Saturday, October 10, 2009

Children of the Corn

2009 **1/2

This is Isaac. The rest of the pictures in this review will feature his stupid hat.

Our story opens as Burt and Vicky are driving across Nebraska. They're married, but they're reeling towards divorce. She's a nag and...well, maybe he's an insensitive prick. It's hard to tell because Vicky is insufferable, so it's hard not to side with Burt. While she's in the middle of pissing him off, he takes his eyes off the road for a second, just long enough to run over a little boy. Burt checks the body, Vicky hysterically goading him, and discovers that the boy's throat had been cut. Burt wraps the boy in blankets and stows him in the trunk of his car. They head for the closest town, Gatlin, and find it deserted. They note, with mounting discomfort, that everything in town is 12 years out of date.

They're being spied upon by children. There are a lot of them and they're carrying sickles, scythes, hammers, axes. On Isaac's command, they wait for Burt and Vicky to separate and then they make their move.

The chain of events that happen over the rest of this movie, and of course, the chain of events that made it possible for a group of kids to wield such sharp, pointy things with no adult supervision seem worse the more you think about it. This is a movie in which we see kids get killed, and these are kids that killed their own parents. And they haven't been bothered by anyone about it in 12 years, so that means they had to kill off some cops while they were at it. It's a premise with bite. The Stephen King short story on which it was based is a fine and scary piece of work.

And yet, **1/2. If you're looking for reasons why, look no further than little Isaac in his goofy black God-sombrero.

He's played by Preston Bailey, who plays Cody on Dexter. He's great on that. He's really, really bad in this. The picture up top may illustrate why. He's pretty much lifeless in the role, and this is one role you can't be lifeless in. He's the prophet ruler of a fervent cult of Old Testament devotees in a forgotten rural town. These kids have moved into the second generation since killing off every adult in the entire town, and they continue to live a life of stolid ritual out in the middle of the corn. So they obviously take themselves seriously. The leader of this crew would have to be a hissing, proselytizing ball of fire. In this role, Preston Bailey is flat, monotone, wooden - in no way discernable from the star of any 3rd grade play in any elementary school in the universe.

That's problem A-number one with the SyFy remake of Children of the Corn and it's devastating to the quality of the movie.

Not helping matters is Vicky, played by Kandyse McClure -- you'd know her as Dualla from Battlestar Galactica. In Battlestar, she's spunky, likable and sincere. In this, you want to start hitting her with a frying pan and just never stop. In her defense, it's really just the role -- she's a tantrum throwing priss and about half of her lines are taunts towards Burt. Remember what I said in my review of the Mist about how little fun it is to watch a movie about people arguing? It's that times ten here. I got a nice screenshot of Burt slapping her across the face, but of course they weren't standing near Isaac at the time, so I can't post it. But here, here's another picture of Isaac's hat.

I was pulling for this one. Children of the Corn was one of the stories I'd usually skip over when I was reading through the book in high school, because it was too long and I have a depressingly short attention span when it comes to books. I finally read it earlier this year and found it to be one of King's most unnerving stories. I've only seen the original movie and one of the sequels, I can't remember which. I found both to be steaming piles of dog poo. The original, made in the neutered 80's, happy-ed up the ending. This one at least remains faithful to the spirit of the short story. Unfortunately, it's not very well written and the acting is very uneven. This was a missed opportunity.


Catfreeek said...

SyFy movies are the worst. It's not that they're just plain bad, if that was so it would almost be better. Its like they are trying to be good and some even teeter on the edge of good but they never quite make it.

JPX said...

They will never cast a better Isaac than the ugly kid in the original COTC film, he was one homely dude. Unfortunately when I see that a movie comes from the SYFY channel I already assume that it will be terrible (hence my "Alligator" review last year). The problem is that SYFY can't show gore and there's no profanity so its ridiculous to attempt this kind of "horror" movie on television. SYFY should make some ghost story movies.

PS. I hate the new "SYFY" name.

50PageMcGee said...

there are some pretty graphic happenings -- compound fracture of the forearm, kid gets run over by a car.

the problem isn't with television-applied limitations. SyFy *could* be making good movies. the problem is, they hire shitty directors and shitty writers to make them.

DCD said...

What about the kid you played Malaki? (I just realized I have no idea how to spell that name) Talk about Fugly!

Octopunk said...

Oh my god, that hat! It looks like something you could buy in Toontown.

I always liked the original story, but the first movie missed the boat and I've never gone back. I'm happy leaving that to other 'thonners, as I am the Leprechaun series, heh heh.

I like this: " in no way discernable from the star of any 3rd grade play in any elementary school in the universe." I hope that's a function of lousy directing, because I want anyone with anything to do with Dexter to prosper.

Johnny Sweatpants said...

That hat is refarted. I want to take it off Isaac's head and beat him to death with it. Haven't seen this and I never will thanks to your description of the annoying wife. Another great review!