Since it is October, Jasmine has trying to get me to watch some film adaptations of Stephen King stories. I decided that we start off with watching the 2009 SyFy Channel tv movie of King’s short story, Children of the Corn, which happens to be the only one of his stories that I am familiar with. I decided to watch the 2009 SyFy version as well as the better known 1984 film after seeing the Nostalgia Critic review, which in turn made me want to read the short story they are based on. Of the two film versions, I decided that my favorite is the 2009 one because it is closer to the original story.
Children of the Corn centers around a couple named Burt (David Anders) and Vicky (Kandyse McClure) who travel through rural Nebraska on a second honeymoon road trip and run afoul of cult hyper religious children who kill and sacrifice in the name of a corn god known as “He Who Walks Behind the Rows.” The Nostalgia Critic pointed out to humorous effect in his review of the 1984 version that corrupt religious figures and creepy children of the horror genre and of King’s oeuvre specifically. One of the most interesting parts of the story is it exploration of what children, who are impressionable and lack the emotional maturity of adults, could be capable of if there were no adult supervision and their actions were justified by religion. The cult forms when the young people of the fictional town of Gatlin Nebraska begin blaming a severe drought on the sinfulness of the adult population. Their first sacrificial victim is a policeman; policemen and other authority figures are often seen as objects of resentment by rebellious youths.
The two main characters, Burt and Vicky, are obnoxious and unsympathetic people. Burt is a brutish Vietnam veteran with post traumatic stress disorder. Vicky is a prissy former prom queen who is unwilling and unable to do anything for herself. They are the type of people who peaked in their youth and are unsatisfied with their anticlimactic lives and take out their frustrations on other people. The type of people who go on to raise resentful and badly behaved children. The viewer is tempted to root for the children who are out to kill them.
The Nostalgia Critic also pointed out that the weakest part of a Stephen King story is the climax, the reveal of the monster. King excels at creating a creepy and disturbing set up, which the film captures well, but the ending is a bit of let down. There is in fact a monster living in the cornfield who reveals himself to, spoiler alert, finish Burt off. But as I mentioned in my Crimson Peak review, often the scariest part of a horror story is the human elements. Fear comes from the unknown and Children of the Corn would have been a stronger story if the nature of “He Who Walks Behind the Rows” was left ambiguous since the behavior of the cult children is the most frightening part of the story.
My favorite part of the movie is the scene which is after the credits. There is a subplot about a pregnant teenaged girl named Ruth (Alexa Nikolas) who loses faith in the cult after her lover, Malachi (Daniel Newman), one of the main cult members, is killed along with the other children who are too old. This leads to a disturbing dream image of Ruth setting fire to the sacred cornfield.