This article contains spoilers for Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return.
The film: And so we’re back in the Children Of The Corn franchise. For those who may have forgotten, it features a mysterious entity called He Who Walks Behind The Rows, some pretty dumb adults, and a whole bunch of psychotic child cults.
The sixth film is no different and in this film’s tenuous connection back to Gatlin, the town in the original Children Of The Corn, we have Hannah (Natalie Ramsay), whose biological mother was in with Isaac’s crowd back in the day. Hannah heads back to Gatlin to find her. Unfortunately, she kickstarts a prophecy and it all unfolds with a tedious inevitability.
For those who don’t remember the first Children Of The Corn film, Isaac was Psychotic Child Cultist in Chief at the time and I think you might guess from the title that he is back (John Franklin returns to the role, too). It turns out that being possessed by a god has its advantages. He miraculously survived (who’d have thunk?) the first film and has actually been in a coma all this time. How convenient!
The first good thing to note about Children Of The Corn 666 is that it is only 82 minutes long. A Children Of The Corn movie is rarely over 100 minutes, but still, the relief is palpable. The second is that Stacy Keach and Nancy Allen are in it, the next in a long line of people you see in these films and think “surely you had better offers?”
There’s also another Buffy The Vampire Slayer connection in John Patrick White who plays Matt. He appeared in third season episode ‘Beauty And The Beasts’ and joins Greg Vaughan in the somewhat limited Children Of The Corn/Buffy crossover. Of course, Nancy Allen was in the original Carrie and if you’re going to pick a King movie to see her in, pick that one. Do it for me.
Because she’s the main actor of note in this thing, aside from Keach, Allen plays Hannah’s biological mother, Rachel, and gets to swoop around in a natty long leather coat. Rachel is another callback to the first film; she’s the wife of Amos, who sacrifices himself for He Who Walks Behind The Rows.
There are hints towards interesting things like exploring generational trauma, abandonment, and the sins of the mother/father, but as we’ve come to expect with these movies, very little is done to develop these themes.
Kari Skogland has gone on to have an illustrious career in television since directing Isaac’s Return and is attached to the upcoming The Falcon And The Winter Soldier series. She had directed a few things prior to the sixth instalment of the Children Of The Corn franchise, but there’s an experimental nature to the way she frames this story that makes it a little more interesting to look at than your standard DTV affair. The opening of the film is bathed in a golden hour glow and filmed from odd, swooping angles. It’s disorientating and doesn’t always work, but I’ll take any positives at this point.
Most of all though, it’s dull. Skogland injects a certain kinetic energy into the more dramatic moments, but fails to bring low-key moments to a level no greater than pedestrian. Allen gamely gives her all in the role of Rachel, but there’s only so much she can do on her own. It’s a shame she and Keach only share one meaningful scene; it’s automatically the best scene in the film by sheer gravitas.
Elsewhere, John Franklin is suitably creepy again as Isaac, doling out faux Biblical sentences with a knowing grin. The young cast aren’t quite on the same level, but they scream/look sinister as appropriate.
I try to look for the positives in these King adaptations, even when they’re so awful, but lord do the Children Of The Corn films make it difficult. Still, we do get Nancy Allen’s truly excellent coat in this one, so let’s all hold on to that.
Scariest moment: That this is the sixth movie in this franchise. That’s it. That’s the moment.
Musicality: There’s no real score to speak of beyond the stereotypical hum of strings in the background. I still miss the bonkers organ/church choir styles of the earlier films.
A King thing: We’re pretty far removed from King at this point, despite this film featuring a character that was his originally, but in Hannah returning to Gatlin, it plays on a popular King theme: someone returning to the scene of their childhood trauma. Think the Losers Club or Danny Torrance.
Join me next time, Constant Reader, for a visit to The Green Mile.