In addition to their well-publicized sins, you can also accuse the Weinsteins of being poor stewards of 1980s horror franchises. Amityville: The Awakening had some merit and a name director, but they turned it into a punchline by streaming it for free on google. Likewise, Hellraiser: Judgement might have been something, but it was under-funded and ultimately copped out at the very last minute. In this case, we’re just talking about a bad movie. You can hear the sound of a franchise expiring during John Gulager’s Children of the Corn: Runaway (trailer here), which releases today on DVD.
We’re getting pretty far afield of Stephen King’s original short story, but Runaway still invokes his name. Its rather surprising how much children and corn has already passed under the bridge. The story was first the inspiration for one of the earliest “Dollar Babies,” “Disciples of the Crow,” which managed to get some distribution by being in the right place at the right time. There was the proper 1984 Hollywood adaptation that many fans have a nostalgic affection for, probably because they remember seeing it in drive-ins or second-run theaters that no longer exist. There were seven subsequent sequels and a Syfy Channel reboot, which this film follows chronologically, so yes, this is a straight-to-DVD sequel to a Syfy original movie. Adjust your expectations accordingly.
Ruth, formerly known as Sandy, has been on the run with her newborn son, since she left the cult and set fire to the cornfields in Children 2009. Aaron is now a surly pre-teen, who doesn’t understand why his mom is so paranoid. Like it or not, they will have to spend time in a dusty Oklahoma burg, so Ruth finally considers putting down some roots. She even gets a mechanic job with Carl, the gruff but charitable filling station owner. Unfortunately, there is an angelic little cult-member girl who occasionally kills adults when the movie really starts to drag.
And does it ever. This is one of the dullest horror movies you could ever hope to see. It devotes an unfathomable amount of time to Ruth and Aaron ordering food at the local diner. Seriously, there are time when it feels like we are watching corn grow. Yet, whenever the ever so petite “Pretty Girl” carves up another victim, it just looks utterly ridiculous on-screen.
Frustratingly, both Marci Miller and Lynn Andrews III have talent and they spark off each other quite well in their scenes together as Ruth and Carl, but they really don’t have anyone or anything else to work with here. The story makes little sense and the supposed twist is glaringly obvious. However, Gulager has a couple of big aerial shots, so there’s that.