Honestly, this series was ripe for a reboot. The sequels had been wondering aimlessly, and this thing needed a remake the kind of shake stuff up. I’m far more tolerant of remakes when the source was originally a book anyhow – we’re just seeing a new take on that original source material.
It starts off well enough, with a good looking font – some nice production values, and the quite frankly brilliant sound of children singing “bringing in the sheaves” under the tent of a revival meeting. It sets the tone and lets us know right away that we are back into rural, vaguely religious horror.
It’s bad news though when we are five minutes into the movie and I find myself really hating our ingénue. She’s a spoiled snob (or brat. I really can’t decide which is the more accurate adjective) and the bickering between her and her husband immediately sets my nerves on edge. However when the car hits a child coming out of the cornfield, I can see we’re sticking close to the original but updating it with modern brutality. The blood has been laid on far more heavily in this movie then what we seen in a long while. Malachi in particular manages to be even more terrifying here then he was in the original film – and that’s no small feat… Isaac’s right-hand man was always the creepiest of our corn children.
Much to my surprise, I find myself digging this. It feels so much less like the direct video director that dimension insisted on turning out for so many years, and more like the fundamental remake that we saw in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The horror is natural, with outsiders intruding into the corn children’s community – it doesn’t feel forced the way the previous sequel or two did. It doesn’t feel like we’re trying to shoehorn the corn children into our modern day era. The ominous messages written on every wall and floor in the church, scribbled on buildings and in the town – they come off as eerie rather than contrived. The setting of 1975 – almost 10 years earlier than the original film, adds to the isolated atmosphere. It’s a low tech time where vanished communities could still haunt us more effectively. It’s more than just competent filming and effective framing – there is a care in the production of this film that is lacking from most of the other sequels.
It’s not the eerie slow burn the original was. This is more brash with a greater action edge than strictly horror influence. It moves at a rapid pace – and this ends up being to it’s benefit. I never got bored, I never got distracted – I couldn’t believe how quickly this film passed the time. The first of these films since the original to have a running time over 90 minutes (though it does have a good five or six minutes of credits so it’s actually more like 88 minutes) and that worried me – but I felt like this one flew by quicker than any of the others.
I really like this one. I was actually surprised when I looked up on IMDb and saw such scathing reviews of it – and I have to wonder how much of that is playing from nostalgia for the first film. To me this is the literary adaption – I don’t hate Christopher Lees Dracula just because I happen to enjoy Bela Lugosi’s. I shake my head at the people who scream in outrage that this is the worst atrocity ever committed to celluloid – these folks obviously haven’t seen any of the other entries in the series. This is a highpoint for me, and a refreshing renewal, contrasted with the sharp decline that we got in the fifth and sixth instalment of the series. I can see myself watching this one again and again – possibly even more often than the original.
Of course, there is still one more to go… And when I see that dimension extreme logo – i’m filled with trepidation.