aka: Children of the Corn 4, Deadly Harvest
Director: Greg Spence
Starring: Naomi Watts, Jamie Renee Smith, Karen Black, Mark Salling, Brent Jennings
In a sleepy midwestern town… A horrifying evil is about to rise again!
Grace Rhodes is traveling to her hometown of Grand Island, Nebraska to take care of her sick mother who has become paranoid and never leaves her house. The ill state of her mother also puts Grace in the care for her younger siblings James and Margaret.
She gets her old job as an assistant at Dr. Larsen’s clinic back and she starts to notice that all the children in the town is getting a strange fever. The fever comes from the spirit of a dead preacher and it turns the children against the parents and the main target of the preacher is to use the body of young Margaret as a vehicle to resurrect himself back to life.
Children of the Corn: The Gathering is the first sequel in this series that creates an own world that seems separated from the first three films. There’s no talk about he who walks behind the rows in this film, but it does keep the same type of premise and tone as the previous films.
I actually have some nostalgic feelings towards this film because I used to rent it from the local video store multiple times. Horror basically sucked in the 90’s, so this was one I kept going back to during 1996 and 97. Looking back at it now I can see what attracted me to it at a younger age, cause the scare scenes actually work very well and they make full use of the flashy quick scares that would become common and even hated a decade later.
What I also notice now is that the story and all other parts of the film is not as strong and as a movie it is not very good, even though they tackled the scare scenes very well. The film also sports a good cast with Naomi Watts in the lead as Grace. The legendary genre actress Karen Black plays her paranoid parent and the duo is excellent in this film. I would also like to say that young Jamie Renee Smith did a great job as Margaret. As any horror fan will know, a poor performance by a child actor can ruin any horror film and that’s thankfully not done with her performance here.
This was the debut film directed by Greg Spence and I’m surprised that he only went on to direct one other movie after this, which was The Prophecy 2 (aka. God’s Army 2) with Christopher Walken. He shows an eye for horror here and it sucks that he didn’t do any more. Considering he spends these days as a co-producer on Game of Thrones, I’m sure he is happy with where he is at these days. He makes this film look good, the pace is great, the story is lacking and the character development leaves a lot to be desired but it sure isn’t the worst directorial debut I’ve witnessed.
Children of the Corn: The Gathering is a good direct to video sequel. It is the best sequel in the Children of the Corn series and the last one that I actually liked. The scare scenes work great, Naomi Watts is good in the leading role and you can’t ask for much more than that.