20 Years On: “Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering”

Sequels, no matter when they come out don’t always look like they should’ve ever been a thing. The story was never there, and no matter what actors are in the roles, a decent and watchable film isn’t possible. Yet, somehow you allow yourself to watch because there’s something slightly entertaining, even if others don’t see it that way.

The Dimension Films film “Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering”, doesn’t provide much beyond a creepy story that does nothing for the genre it’s included in.

This horror film stars Naomi Watts (upcoming “Shut In”, “Allegiant”), Brent Jennings (“Modern Family”, “Murder in the First”), Samaria Graham (“Girlfriends”, “Providence”), Jamie Renee Smith (“Sorry, Ari”, “Chasing Life”), Brandon Kleyla (“The Road to Canyon Lake”, “Free Enterprise”), William Windom (“Just (Short 2006)”, “Yesterday’s Dreams”), and Karen Black (“Five Easy Pieces”, “The Great Gatsby (1975)”).

The film was directed Greg Spence (“The Prophecy II”) and written by Stephen Berger (“The Cold Equations”) and Spence (“The Prophecy II”).

The film originally opened on Oct. 8, 1996.

This is why horror films interest me. Some are just great, others okay, and then there are the ones that outright suck. Yet, for the many that are terrible, I still find something that makes me want to watch them. This film is that example. The reason to watch this, let alone own, isn’t just because it turned 20 yesterday. No, it’s because I’ve always found something interesting about this film and jumped when I got the chance to buy it. I sort of regret it, but at the same time, of all the “Children of the Corn” films I’ve seen, this is a step up. It’s still terrible, but it’s a more enjoyable film than many of the others. I’ll take that over a film that simply sucks.

There’s barely a story. There’s barely any interesting characters, yet, there’s hardly a reason to look away. This is a film that offers little, but can make it more fun than it should’ve been.

Primarily it’s what qualifies for horror, that makes this film one you probably won’t want to take out until it’s over. If you flat out choose not to watch it, that’s one thing, that’s different, but if you start watching it, then you’ll probably get in enough to stick around, or tune it out completely and leave it playing in the background . I did that here (watched it), and discovered that what I thought was a much better film, really wasn’t. The horror wasn’t there. It was gory and had semi-creative deaths, which always excites me, especially as there’s not much else going for it. Then there’s the overall creepy and eerie factor. It was there. Evil children don’t need much work to make people feel unnerved, certainly if you’re an adult, and that’s what we got. There was also a slow build up of what the hell was going on. A sort of mystery, if you can even call it that. I was once again, a bit on edge or something else. It just got under my skin a bit more than even the original film can do. For that, I’ll always take this film over the other sequels. It allows for this film to be far more bearable than it deserves to be.

After that, well, you’re clinging on to the actions of characters who aren’t really there. They’re paper thin and offer nothing to make the film any deeper than the superficial cuts on the creepy children’s hand or arm in Black’s dream and reality, which ultimately leads to her demise. I guess, if there’s anything positive about the character’s and actors, it’s the fact that they’re kind of awesome. Watts has moments, and is Watts, so that alone is exciting, and Graham had some bad ass moments. She was clearly the smartest person in the entire film, but sadly couldn’t showcase it long enough to be a survivor. Jennings just took charge and wanted to figure out what the hell was going on. More so than other parents, which itself is strange, he cared about his kid. He wanted to save his kid. That alone makes him a winner in my book! Past that, eh, the character’s, Black’s and Windom serve the purposes of the story. That’s it. If you know who these two actors were, then that could be a slight plus for you, but for the film, not much.

So far as the rest of the film, its story and the actors or anything else, it was your typical sequel. Think “Friday the 13th” and “Nightmare on Elm Street” sequels. They’re bad, somewhat enjoyable, but absolutely unnecessary. As many other problems that this film suffered from, including having character’s make terrible choice after terrible choice, and just be dumb, it was a film in name only. The original film at least gave the corn purpose and a reason for only children being in Gatlin, but this film didn’t do that. There was an attempt at explaining why this was happening, but it was pretty terrible. The corn was then also just to show corn. To sort of tie it to the series. It’s one of the reason’s I hate sequels, especially as the film series continues to age.

The horror sequel, seldom worth it and yet impossible to ignore. Why is that? We don’t expect anything good, especially if there are multiple sequels that already prove this, but keep running in. Maybe it’s just for mindless gore and badly executed scares, which stood no chance of being scary at all. There’s something simple about that idea. Or we just continue to hope that a sequel in a long running series, which never should’ve been a thing to begin with, will actually be a worth follow up to the previous film as well as the original film itself.


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