The 4th in the long running series of the Children of the Corn movies & one that has barely any recognisable references to the previous films (not including a deleted scene that should have been left in).
Grace Rhodes is heading back to her hometown in Nebraska to take care of her old & sickly mother who has developed deep paranoia & refuses to go any further then the front yard. She has reoccurring dreams of being attacked by groups of children & it is affecting her younger children (Graces siblings). Meanwhile nearby a farmer is drawing water form a well where he discovers the body of a child dressed like a preacher, the child comes back to life & kills the farmer.
That night all the kids in town begin to get sick & feverish culminating in seizures & sky-rocketing temperatures. As soon as it begins, it ends but soon after the kids begin to act strange. They stop answering to their names, claim to be children long dead & start killing adults with the long term plan of giving the boy preacher Josiah, a new body to inhabit.
As stories go it’s actually quite an interesting one with some really interesting developments. Linking it to the movies that came before is not really possible (regardless of the children/preacher element) but there was deleted scene where 2 adults talk about the kids referring to Josiah as ‘who he walks behind the rows’. Why they chose to take such a small scene but one dripping with reference out I don’t know.
Regardless of its loose connections to the series as a whole, Children of the Corn 4 manages something many of the other movies failed to do…to be an actual good movie & at times a bit creepy. Imagine if your kid just kept telling you their names was different you every time you spoke to them? There is a great sequence where explanations are given by 2 old ladies & a resulting bleeding photograph.
The children’s transformation into the long-dead kids is done so well & it is easy to believe that as adults we would dismiss the kid’s behaviour as nothing more than high-jinks. By time it becomes obvious there is something more sinister going on the death count has risen substantially & the kids are clearly linked.
When deaths do happen they happen in style & with some imagination, the film is not light on gore. Sometimes the deaths border on silly such as the death sequence in the medical facility but it mostly goes unnoticed as the characters involved are just so creepy (twins!).
There is an additional subplot about a father on the run from the police suspected with killing his wife. She was attacked by a group of kids & his son has vanished with them so he teams up with the heroine to find out what is going on & rescue his son. It’s an interesting addition with an excellent corn-field scene but kind of peters off in the end with an unnecessary ‘haemophiliac’ mention. It also really highlights the lack of parents in the latter half of the movie…
Ultimately what really lets the movie down is the average ending & some cop-out idea that mercury is Josiah’s weakness. Once he is resurrected he is taken down all too easily with a combination of mercury sprinklers & a scythe. He dies, the kids turn back to normal & everyone lives happily ever after…I guess.
A really good attempt that would have scored higher had it not been for the disappointing ending. Managing to do what no COTC movie has done since the first & make the children seem scary & viable threats. Deaths are fun & suitably gory even if they sometimes border on silly. I still think the deleted scene should have been left in & it would have served as a good connection to previous movies in the series.
Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering