Children of the Corn: The Gathering (1996)

*. Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest was a bit of stupid fun that I’ll admit to being fond of. But that’s the only mulligan I’ll give this franchise. Now, back to our usual programming.
*. The Gathering is the fourth film in the series, or IVth, but the number doesn’t appear as part of the title on screen. The thing is, these movies don’t present any kind of a through narrative, no matter how incoherent, so it’s hard to think of them as sequels (and thus in need of numbers). They have certain similarities — a cult of homicidal kids who worship some kind of pagan corn god — but they’re more like separate episodes riffing on a theme. Which, I would add, starts to make the credit “Based on the story by Stephen King” quite a stretch. This movie is not based on King’s story, even at several layers of remove.
*. Oh, Karen Black. To have gone from Five Easy Pieces and Nashville to this (and House of 1000 Corpses still to come). But at least she’s kept working. I salute her.
*. And hello Naomi Watts. She was still doing hard time here, waiting for her big break. She says she only got paid $5,000, which must have been in violation of some kind of minimum-wage law given that she carries the whole film. In any event, if you’re looking for a bright spot in the proceedings, she’s it.
*. I don’t think I want to add anything more. This isn’t even interesting. Ideas and plot points are introduced in a clumsy way that just screams at you that they’re going to be used later. The evil wizard, for example, is allergic to mercury. And the one kid is hemophilic. And Karen Black is agoraphobic. Though this last point, curiously, doesn’t play much of a role in the story. I think something got left out.
*. One guy gets cut in half but that’s the only semi-interesting bit of gore. The rest of it is just tedious. I couldn’t wait for it to be over. Don’t bother, unless you’re a die-hard Naomi Watts fan.

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