Children of the Corn (1984)

It’s hard to believe that a movie as weak and poorly made as “Children of the Corn” inspired a franchise that continues nearly forty years later. Other than the Stephen King distinction and the vaguely interesting story, there’s nothing much to go on here: The plot is repetitive and uninteresting, the characters are barely developed while the acting is weak, and the special effects are laughably bad. Admittedly, there’s an unmistakable dread running through the proceedings that’s largely thanks to the effectively malevolent presence established by the possessed children (in particular, Courtney Gains makes a strong impression as Malachai), and the infamous opening massacre still packs a punch, but otherwise, it’s just long-winded and boring. By the time the movie limps to its underwhelming climax, the audience has long checked out, which is a shame because there’s plenty of room for a fascinating parable about the dangers of religious zealotry running through the story’s DNA. Instead, screenwriter George Goldsmith does a perfunctory job of adapting King’s short story, adding no verisimilitude or depth to the thin narrative, while director Fritz Kiersch establishes a moderately effective atmosphere but seems lost when it comes to momentum or audience involvement.

Rating: ★★ (out of 5)

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