The Children of the Corn return in the fourth outing of the series that returns it to its roots, rural Nebraska. “Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering” stars the then soon to be famous Naomi Watts as Grace, a medical student who goes back home to help her mentally ill mother (played by horror queen Karen Black) with her siblings.
Soon after she arrives, all the children in town start to get sick with high fever. At first, we are led to believe that Isaac himself from the first film has returned, but we soon find out that it’s the original child of corn that is causing the havoc. The illness affecting the kids is also not the flu like Grace and the old guy from Murder She Wrote thought, but a possession. The kids are being possessed by the souls of children of the corn from yesteryears.
Or so I think. I didn’t quite understand everything.
Like so many horror sequels, especially during the nineties, you could easily remove roman numerals and franchise name and have it as a stand-alone film. There isn’t any real connection to the previous films, except “evil cult kids that kill.” With minimum of rewrites, this could have been a Village of the Damned (1995) sequel.
It is interesting to show that the wickedness that follows the He Who Walks Behind the Rows cult has been a lingering problem for the past century, but the film doesn’t do a good job of it. There was this preacher child, Josiah, who was sacrificed to evil by his mentor so it would stay a child forever. Josiah killed his mentor, the town burned him for it and now he is back, for some reason, even though he has never been mentioned before and wasn’t involved in the shenanigans seen in the previous flicks. I would have liked to see something more grounded, like how the history of the cult evolves in the Poltergeist (1982) series.
The film is decently made for a straight-to-video flick. Watts is good and obviously meant for bigger and better things. Karen Black is best when she plays a character with more power or straight up damsel-in-distress, the insanely sad agoraphobic mom isn’t a part where she is going to shine.
Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering is an okay watch, but it’s hard to recommend it unless you are a big fan of straight-to-video 90s horror flicks with some gore but mostly drama and tension brought on by dream sequences or if you are a Naomi Watts completionist.