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Children of the Corn (2023) features a standout performance by Kate Moyer as Eden and boasts beautiful cinematography that captures the bleak ambiance of a town overtaken by a fanatic cult of children. Nonetheless, while the film excels in these areas, it falls short in it’s storytelling.  This reimagining of Children of the Corn fails to reproduce the spine-chilling terror and suspense that cemented King’s original narrative as a horror classic.

Let’s start with the very confusing opening scene. We see a strange and possibly possessed young man walk from the cornfield into a daycare, where he proceeds to kill the adults within. The law enforcement officers in the town decide to pump a hose full of gas sedative into the building to stop the killer.  Why they think this is a good idea is never explained.

Of course, the plan accidentally results in the deaths of all the innocent children inside. It’s a strange moment that quite frankly just doesn’t make sense. Why would the adults risk the children’s lives in order to possibly neutralize one teenager? Unfortunately, this kind of questionable storytelling continues throughout the film.

The original film showed how the children were able to overpower the adults. In the 1984 version, a scene in a diner shows most of the patrons being poisoned or attacked by the children.  The story quickly moves on with the Children of the Corn assuming control of the town. However, in this 2023 remake, the adults remain and are simply overpowered by the children and locked up in the small town’s jail. It strains credibility to believe that not one adult could overpower the little girl leader, Eden, or any of her followers. This execution of a major point in the movie made it feel a little silly to me.

Stephen King’s novel was a terrifying cautionary tale about the dangers of religious fanaticism and a devious demon dwelling in the cornfields. The creature’s ability to manipulate the children through their religious beliefs and fanatical devotion brought a sense of realism to the story, making it all the more frightening.  It’s easy for us as a viewer to understand how religious extremism can cause people to act in violent and erratic behavior.

The 2023 movie, on the other hand, focuses not on religion but on the destructive consequences of greed-driven behavior. The townspeople use dangerous chemicals on their fields, hoping for a windfall of wealth due to a bountiful harvest these chemicals may provide, but ultimately, these toxins backfire and begin to destroy the town’s fields. This angers the creature known as He Who Walks Behind the Rows, and leads to the town’s ultimate unraveling. While this deviation from the original story may be an attempt to offer a fresh take on the horror classic, it falls short of delivering the same level of fear and intensity that made the original story so effective.

Kate Moyer as Eden

Despite its flaws, the new Children of the Corn movie still has its strengths. Kate Moyer delivers a phenomenal performance as Eden, the little girl leader of the cult, and the cinematography is simply stunning. The desolate and eerie atmosphere is palpable and adds a layer of tension and foreboding to the movie. Horror enthusiasts may still find the visually captivating scenes and the intense performances worth watching, even if the storytelling doesn’t quite live up to expectations.

Admittedly, many of my qualms with the film stem from my constant comparison to the source material. A new generation of viewers who are not familiar with the original movie will likely not be as critical as a horror fan of the 1984 classic.

Children of the Corn will hit theaters on March 3rd before making its way to Shudder on March 21st.

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