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Children of the Corn Review – A Failed Harvest of One of King’s Earliest Stories

Children of the Corn Cover

Stephen King is among the most accomplished and popular authors working today, with a long career that began by selling short stories to men’s magazine. In 1977 his short story titled Children of the Corn was published in the pornographic magazine Penthouse. There’s something about the strangeness of his stories, often taking readers to the darkest corners of their imagination, that intrigues people. His writings tend to be primed for screen adaptations, not only for their popularity, but for the visceral imagery narrated throughout their pages. Following Brian De Palma’s masterful Carrie back in 1976, the next several decades paved a road that proved to be a rocky one for King’s work depicted on screen.  For every masterpiece like Misery, The Shawshank Redemption or The Shining (1980), we got duds like The Lawnmower Man (1991), Firestarter (2022), and, unfortunately, the latest swing at Children of the Corn. 

The Plot

In King’s short story, Children of the Corn, a young married couple traveling through Nebraska find themselves in a rural, seemingly abandoned town occupied solely by a cult of corn worshipping, murderous children. The most recent iteration acts more as a prequel to that story than a direct adaptation. In a small and desolate Nebraska town, a young girl named Eden Edwards (Kate Moyer) connects with a spirit in a dying corn field. Acting as a sort of messiah, she then recruits the town’s children to join her in a sacrificial mission to kill all of the adults.

Also Read: Mike Flanagan Teases New Project With The Last of Us Star Pedro Pascal

Children of the Corn 2
Children of the Corn (2023)

The Critique

Unlike the Razzies — who nominated twelve year old Ryan Kiera Armstrong for her performance in the above mentioned Firestarter — I have no intention of dragging a child actor through the mud; however, it’s impossible to avoid the topic when discussing a movie consisting of a primarily juvenile cast. The performances here vary in quality (as you’d expect), but arguably the most important role is that of Eden. As the leader of the “corn cult” she’s the most pivotal character and the audience’s ability to let go of reality and immerse themselves in the story hinges on her delivery. This is one — of many — stumbling points the film faces. There’s potential for young Kate, but the material provided to her doesn’t do her any favors. The dialogue is flat, both in its conception and its delivery.

Children of the Corn feels like a made for TV movie. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing; after all, 1990’s television mini series It is highly regarded as a pinnacle achievement in the world of 90’s cable. However, it doesn’t use its cheaply made aesthetic to its benefit. Ironically, Children of the Corn would likely have benefited by leaning into its inherently corny premise.

Stories about killer children can often be tough to take seriously. When those killer children also worship corn, it adds another level to the already layered absurdity. Whether author Stephen King recognized and acknowledged that absurdity, I’m unsure (although I would guess he did); however, it’s essential that a filmmaker have the ability to find creative ways to work around the silliness, or steer directly into it and embrace the campy horror combination that has worked so well for filmmakers like Sam Raimi. Children of the Corn (2023) does neither.

Children of the Corn 1
Children of the Corn (2023)

In Conclusion

Perhaps the story of Nebraska’s corn worshipping youth is one best left to the page. The 1984 film adaptation is not much better than this one, but at least it can be looked at as a product of its time. In the hands of the right director, there’s probably a genuinely entertaining film or limited series to be pulled from the source material, but at what cost? How many lackluster sequels, reboots and remakes must we suffer through to find it? And at that point, is it worth it? Perhaps. For now it seems our viewing experiences must the torture inflicted upon the adults in the story. This corn is rotten.


3 Out of 10

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Written by Joshua Ryan

Joshua Ryan is the Creative Coordinator and Head Film Critic for FandomWire. He's a member of the Critics Choice Association and spokesperson for the Critics Association of Central Florida. Joshua is also one of the hosts of the FandomWire review based Podcast, Cinema Stubs.

Twitter: @MrMovieGuy86 Instagram: @MrMovieGuy86