Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering (1996)

There’s no denying that “Children of the Corn 4” is the strongest entry in the series so far. Part of the reason why it works is because, well, it doesn’t quite feel like a “Children of the Corn” movie: The characters are reasonably well-developed, there’s an unmistakable sense of encroaching tension that dominates the proceedings, and there’s an ominous atmosphere that never lets up. The connection to the series seems incidental at best, with nary a mention of He Who Walks Behind the Rows, while the feverish malady that gradually overtakes the children is much more engaging than the children simply turning evil as they have in the past entries because it forces the narrative to focus on prevention and the inevitability of contagion. It’s a shame that leading lady Naomi Watts is rather weak in a pre-fame lead role that she seems lost in because a stronger performance would have enhanced the movie’s low-key efficacy, but as it is, it’s a reasonably effective little chiller that’s stronger than one might expect.

Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)

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