Movie Name: Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering
Studio: Dimension Films
Release Date(s): October 8, 1996
MPAA Rating: R
Grace Rhodes (Naomi Watts) is forced to return home when her mother’s agoraphobia and nightmares begin to grow worse. Forced to take care of her mother (Karen Black) and her brother James (Mark Salling) and sister Margaret (Jamie Renee Smith), a strange illness suddenly sweeps the town causing only the children to get sick. When Grace learns about ties to a preacher boy named Josiah (Brandon Kleyla), she discovers that her hidden past might be tied to the illness.
Directed by Greg Spence, Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering was the first straight-to-video film in the series and followed Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest in 1995. Like most of the sequels, it was not well received but did feature some cast members that have since gained fame like Academy Award nominee Naomi Watts (who went on to bigger and better things starting with Mulholland Dr. and The Ring) and Mark Salling who now stars in Glee as the mohawked Puck.
The movie is an improvement over the previous film Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest, but really has no ties to the Children of the Corn series other than the name. Gatlin and He Who Walks Behind the Rows are never mentioned. In fact, other than some cornfields, corn really doesn’t play into the movie. A deleted scene did mention He Who Walks Behind the Rows, but there are no connecting stories to link any of the other films.
The special effects are pretty minimal in this movie, but as opposed to the previous film, there wasn’t much need for big special effects. There are a couple of little jumps in the film, but for the most part, the movie is more suspenseful and somewhat gory than a screamfest.
I thought it was interesting to see the parallels between this movie and what would become the movie that really shot Naomi Watts to fame. Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering kind of mimics The Ring. It does predate the original Japanese film Ringu (1997), but it did come after the original book by Koji Suzuki in 1991. Both stories have creepy prophetic kids killed and thrown in wells. In the case of The Ring, Naomi Watts pulls the kids from the water in both films…plus there is the whole strange mother thing in this film and in The Ring. I doubt it was planned, but the similarities are surprising.
Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering isn’t the worse horror film you’ll see, but it is a bit dull at points. With a convenient (and cheap) four movie Blu-Ray, seeing a bunch of these Children of the Corn movies could be a fun way to spend the weekend with friends if you are looking for bad movies…plus there is the weird “star” quality of Children of the Corn that seemed to get more future celebrities for their films. Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering was followed by Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror in 1998.