Movie Reviews 178 – Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering(1996)

Children of the Corn IVThis fourth installment in the Children of the Corn series comes as something of a surprise as it is given the star studded treatment, but sadly it doesn’t have a story to give the actors anything to chew on.

Aside from B-movie grande dame Karen Black and fixture character actor William Windom, the star is none other than Naomi Watts as Grace, a woman forced to take a break from her medical studies so that she can return to her rural hometown to take care of her ailing mom (Black). Her deteriorating mom is having psychological issues trying to take care of the other two young children in the family. While there, the local doc (Windom) is happy to temporarily rehire Grace in her old job helping out at his clinic. Quite fortuitous as it turns out since the very next day all the town kids come down with a serious fever. She can barely keep up with the sudden patient influx when the fever breaks for all the kids almost as quickly as it came.

But not all kids are unscathed. A family about to depart town for a new life is turned upside down when the mother is suddenly torn to shreds with only her son in the room as the father (Brent Jennings) tries to break down the door, helplessly hearing the carnage. The cops see the father, Donald, as the only possible suspect even though the son is the one who makes a break for the corn fields as the father pleads his innocence. When the boy makes the break, the father and cops hunt him down only to have the cops share the fate that the mother did hours earlier. Knowing that once again the father will be the likely suspect, he nabs the boy and makes his getaway.

Meanwhile at the clinic Grace can’t understand the weird blood sample readings she’s getting from the kids and the doc seems to have disappeared. When Donald bursts in insisting that Grace follow him, he brings her to the home of two elderly women who tell them the strange (and convoluted) old tale of a onetime child preacher named Josiah that used to perform annual revival sessions in town. Only when the citizens realized that something wasn’t quite right with the boy they took matters into their own hands, and killed him. Now Josiah is trying to return from the dead, but to do that he needs a child ‘just like himself’. Turns out that Grace has a secret of her own and that secret fulfills Josiah’s current needs.

While the script is universally week, Black’s character in particular is completely wasted here. The movie has very little to do with any other Children of the Corn movies so far, with nary a mention or chant of “He who walks behind the rows”. Too bad the story and script suck as the acting from the stars and even minor roles is better than the other Children of the Corn movies thus far.



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