Written and Directed by: Joel Soisson
Starring: J.J. Banicki, Dusty Burwell, and Kai Caster
Reviewed by: Brett Gallman
“I‘m not the one who insisted on coming inside...”
“Really, then why am I pregnant?”
“Really, then why am I pregnant?”
It’d be easy to start out this review by bemoaning the depths the Children of the Corn series has sunk to, but let’s face it: it’s been toiling in these depths for almost twenty years. As recently as two years ago, it was subjected to a made-for-SyFy remake, but now Dimension has returned to shepherd the series back to its natural home: the direct-to-video market. Even though no one will admit it, they’ve only done so because they’ve got to keep producing something to hold on to the franchise rights. Obviously, you need to do some seriously adjusting of your expectations regarding Children of the Corn: Genesis--perhaps even more so than usual when it comes to this series.
A brief prologue takes us back to Nebraska circa 1974, where a young soldier returns home to find his entire family has been slaughtered by a bunch of kids. After he tumbles down a flight of stairs, we jump to present day California, where Tim and Allie (Tim Rock and Kelen Coleman) find themselves stranded when their car breaks down. Seeking help, they stumble upon a preacher (Billy Drago) and his Ukrainian mail-order-bride (Barbara Nedeljakova) living in an old shack. Since they’re several miles away from civilization, the couple will have to stay the night with these two weirdos before help can arrive the next morning. That’s assuming they actually make it through the night because the preacher has a potentially demonic child living in a shed that wants Allie’s unborn baby.
Or something like that. That’s pretty much what I gathered from the various moments of exposition, which is basically what most of Genesis amounts to. If our two leads aren’t bickering at each other, then they’re interrogating their two captors for information. This means you’ve got to sit through a very bored Billy Drago mumble everything just to have the movie make any sort of sense. In fact, not much happens for about an hour, as some vaguely ominous events pop up throughout the night before the movie decides to become a third-rate Omen rip-off (with a dash of Final Destination tossed in), by which point I really didn’t care because neither of our leads is particularly compelling. I did get a chuckle out of their argument over whether or not Tim boned Billy Drago’s Ukrainian wife; that already sounds ridiculous, of course, but it’s even stupider when you consider the context. See, the infidelity is alleged to have occurred in the kitchen while Allie and Preacher were about three feet away in the adjacent living room…which is not separated by a door at all. And it all supposedly happened in the span of about two minutes.
It’s possible that it didn’t happen at all; one of the angles here is that the malevolent entity (which ends up being “He Who Walks Behind the Rows”) causes psychic visions and shit, which is supposed to breed mistrust between the two. At one point, Tim slams the pregnant Allie up against the wall during one of their arguments, which only caused me to dislike the guy even more. Plot-wise, all this mind fuckery amounts to very little; in fact, I was thinking this might be Children of the Corn by way of The Evil Dead, with all kind of crazy shit assaulting our leads as they get trapped inside this house. Instead, the night ends up being about as intense as a late night infomercial as the two comically ponder their fate. Are they dead? Are they dreaming? When Drago wonders if he’s “in the grip of evil,“ I wanted to assure him that it’s not quite that bad--in reality, he’s just in the grip of a terrible horror movie.
Allie actually does find herself dreaming that she’s in the middle of a cornfield being terrorized by children wielding sharp implements of death. With the exception of the prologue, this is about the only time the movie lives up to its title; in fact, it’s so on the nose that it throws in a corpse that’s been impaled by an ear of corn. Otherwise, I think fans of the franchise will be pretty much disappointed that this doesn’t even have the common courtesy to really resemble Children of the Corn. I mean, most of the action doesn’t even take place anywhere near a cornfield, as the lack of budget keeps everything situated inside Preacher’s house and the yard, so it might be more accurate to call the big baddie “He Who Walks Behind the Outhouse.” Likewise, there’s really only one child that has any bearing on the plot, and he spends most of the time hanging out in a shed while everyone talks about him. Who’s supposed to be the evil one, again?
I guess it’s him, the child of the corn (only there’s no corn). Obviously, this movie lives up (down?) to its expectations as a Part 8 that feels like it was produced in the span of a week on a budget that would probably net you nine pizzas at Little Caesars. It’s hard not to feel a little bad for everyone involved, particularly writer/director Soisson, who incidentally gets help from make up effects man and fellow victim Gary Tunnicliffe, who was similarly charged with the task of quickly writing Hellraiser: Revelations so Dimension could also hang onto that franchise too. I can’t say with certainty that this is the worst Children of the Corn yet, as I’ve not seen the remake; that I’m actually so morbidly curious to find out for sure speaks volumes about this one, I guess. Even the DVD for it is unimpressive--the transfer is fine (if not unremarkable), but the audio track is really flat. The only extra is a conversation with Soisson, which isn’t nearly as helpful as the film’s subtitle track, which is necessary due to both the low audio and the copious amount of Billy Drago murmuring. These subs often alert you that crickets are chirping, which pretty much sums up the whole flick. Since this basically feels like an investment in the future, I can only hope the coming installments are much better. Trash it!
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