It would be foolish to expect much from a movie called Children of the Corn: Genesis, and having seen the film, I don’t recommend it. It is quite inexplicably the eighth film in the Children of the Corn franchise, not counting the original 1983 original short film Disciples of the Crow and the 2009 Made-for-TV remake. So I’m sympathetic with writer/director Joel Soisson, who had the unenviable task of making the film feel “new” without taking the story to space or “the hood,” where many Straight-to-Video horror sequels have gone before. His attempts to turn Children of the Corn: Genesis into a hybrid of the original storyline and the classic Twilight Zone episode “It’s a Good Life” are perhaps noble, but the end result is a dull sequel with just a few occasional breaths of genuine life. One of them was stolen from Bad Boys II. Literally. Like, it’s the same footage and everything.
Children of the Corn: Genesis begins with a brief, tacked on prologue of the original massacre that befell the adults of Gatlin, Nebraska in 1973. Without it, and a few corn-related dream sequences, you’d be forgiven for thinking the film had nothing whatsoever to do with the rest of the franchise. Like the first movie, it begins with a young couple’s car breaking down on the side of the road. They turn to a dilapidated farm house for help, and find an old man called “Preacher,” played by The Untouchables’ Billy Drago, and his Ukrainian mail-order bride Helen, played by Hostel II’s Barbara Nedeljakova. They’re creepy as hell but mighty helpful, letting our heroes Tim (Tim Rock) and Allie (Kelen Coleman) use the phone, stay the night and help themselves to a quick over-the-pants rubdown courtesy of Preacher’s obviously stifled wife.
What follows is a standard “Are They or Aren’t They?” mystery, in which both Tim and Allie debate whether their benefactors are misunderstood yokels or demented maniacs keeping their child locked up in a muddy shed. By the time the fit (finally) hits the shan, they’re trapped in the house by a telekinetic force that may or may not be the couple’s abused, all-but-unseen child. There’s an element of creepiness in this concept that Soisson speaks eloquently about in the DVD’s lone special feature, an interview with the director, but he doesn’t display as much prowess in actually putting his ideas on the screen. The horror is at turns uninspired and outright goofy, as when a police officer comes to the house and falls prey to an unexpectedly hilarious psychic assault. It’s the highlight of the film but it also makes the rest of Children of the Corn: Genesis pale in comparison. Soisson obviously has a knack for lively horror but the majority of the film is so deathly serious that it undermines what could have (apparently) been a fun supernatural spook story.
The film culminates in a “WTF” action sequence using stock footage that appears to have been taken from one of the bigger action sequences in Bad Boys II. Soisson explains the stock footage in the special features and although he doesn’t specifically cite the film it came from, the possibilities are limited. The editing successfully makes the sequence look like a part of the original production, but the contrast between the randomly excessive climax and the low budget one-location-wonder that preceded it is more jarring than a pickle factory. Also, the location of the footage – an urban highway – makes the events thoroughly implausible, since it’s probably more likely that the fire department would reach the scene before a random redneck did, and that there would be plenty of witnesses on the surely gridlocked highway to prevent the ensuing events from falling under the authorities’ radar. It is, however, almost heartening to think that the cinematic trickery of Ed Wood, Jr. is alive and well in the present day, although that may just be my nostalgia talking.
Children of the Corn: Genesis arrived on DVD a short time ago from Dimension Extreme with a pleasing audio/visual presentation and just one, aforementioned special feature. It is, however, highly informative and provides about as much behind the scenes information as this barely popped sequel probably needs. If you’re a fan of the Children of the Corn franchise… Wait, you’re a fan of Children of the Corn franchise? Really? Wow. Okay. Well, there have probably been worse films in the series so far, but there have definitely been more entertaining ones too.
CraveOnline Rating (Film): 2.5/10
CraveOnline Rating (DVD): 4/10