Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Children Of The Corn IV: The Gathering (1996)

Children Of The Corn: The Gathering is a pretty terrible movie, saved from the bottom of the barrel by at least two great actresses in main roles and some fleeting moments of impressive imagery.

Karen Black plays June Rhodes, a woman who just can't bring herself to move beyond her garden path nowadays. Fear grips her and she can't seem to get to the root of the problem. She's taking medication, she knows that she should be making progress, but nothing seems to improve. Her daughter, Grace (Naomi Watts), comes home to help her, hopefully, along the road to recovery, but before you can say "He Who Walks Behind The Rows" it turns out that the local kids have all started to turn into evil little shits and all adults must die. Or something like that.

It's hard to care about a movie that feels so slapdash. In some ways, this is better than the third movie, but it loses the sense of fun and suffers from a lack of Screaming Mad George (as does any movie that doesn't feature work from Screaming Mad George).

Director Greg Spence, who co-wrote the screenplay with Stephen Berger, puts everything together in a standard movie shape, but he doesn't ever really manage to heat things up at all. There aren't any decent set-pieces. At all. Even the finale fails to muster any excitement. Perhaps the concept was already stretched too thin by the end of the first movie, of course. Indeed, why Stephen King gets a credit on each film is beyond me. If he fought so hard against The Lawnmower Man  then I can only assume that he just doesn't know that these films exist.

Fans of Karen Black will enjoy her performance here, she gets a fair amount of screentime and does the hand-wringing, nervous nellie act very well, and fans of Naomi Watts will have fun seeing her "slumming it" before she became a Hollywood darling. As for the rest of the cast, William Windom is good as the local doc, Brent Jennings is a father alarmed by the violence that he witnesses in his household and young Jamie Renee Smith, Mark Salling and Lewis Flanagan III play some of the affected children.

Despite having no reason to actually exist, this film almost manages to be watchable, mainly thanks to Watts and Black. The fact that it falls short is thanks to Spence and Berger.


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