Initially started as a short story by Stephen King in 1977, Children of the Corn has become one of the longest running film franchises in Horror cinema. First hitting the big screen as a feature film in 1984 with the original Children of the Corn, 1992 brought the surprising sequel Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice. From there it has been an ongoing direct-t0-video series much like Hellraiser. Excluding the 2009 version of Children of the Corn, there have been eight installments in the franchise, the last being 2011’s Children of the Corn: Genesis. That was until Tuesday, March 13, 2018 when Lionsgate released chapter number nine in the form of Children of the Corn: Runaway.
Some might be thinking, “Do we really need another Children of the Corn sequel?” A valid question, since many of the sequels left a little something less to be desired. Nonetheless, since the name was acquired by Dimension Films prior to Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice, sequels have been dished out relatively consistently through the years. In that time, various writers, producers, and directors have taken on Children of the Corn, but Children of the Corn: Runaway is the first film to have the same writer return to the cornfield when Joel Soisson signed. Having worked on Children of the Corn: Genesis, at least Soisson is relatively familiar with the material. Additionally, Soisson has quite a lengthy résumé in Horror – from producing 1986’s Trick of Treat to writing Dracula 2000 and beyond.
All this in mind, Soisson teams up with Director John Gulager (Feast 2005, Piranha 3DD 2012) and offers a brand new story with Children of the Corn: Runaway. Much like previous sequels, there is little to no connection in the stories, so even if you have missed the last eight films since the original Children of the Corn, you will not be in the dark. This time around, the story follows Ruth (Marci Miller: Most Likely to Die 2015, American Fable 2016), a young pregnant woman who escapes the murderous child cult. Ruth, changing her name to Sandy to protect herself and her child Aaron (Jake Ryan Scott: American Horror Story series, Bunnyman Vengeance 2017), bounces from town to town for nearly 13 years.
Living out of a truck, Sandy and Aaron are all one another have as they scrap for food and shelter. Now at 13 years of age, Aaron is a grown boy and seeks some sort of stability in his life with hopes of attending a real school. As a result, due to their truck unfortunately being compounded by the police, they end up stuck in a small Oklahoma town. Still apprehensive of settling down anywhere, due to the fear of an evil following her from her time in Nebraska, Sandy keeps her guard up with everyone she meets. From the kind-hearted mechanic named Carl (Lynn Andrews III: Cry 2013, Undying 2017) who gives her a job at his shop and a place to live, to the extremely friendly waitress at a local diner named Sarah (Mary Kathryn Bryant: Hellraiser: Judgment 2018, Camp Cold Brook 2018), Sandy does not know who to trust. Will her past finally catch up with her, or will she at least find a safe haven for her and Aaron?
A well-written story, Children of the Corn: Runaway is a compelling watch that explores the love between a mother and her son. Yes, at times it seems to move a little slow, but if you look past that, the plot is intriguing enough to keep your interest. More dramatic than horrific, you can feel the emotional attachment of Sandy and her son and she will stop at nothing to protect him. As a viewer, you only see glimpses here and there of exactly what she experienced as a child in that godforsaken Nebraska town thanks to flashbacks. That said, in many ways, the story of Children of the Corn: Runaway acts as a metaphor that many of us are looking to outrun past events in our lives, only hoping they do not return to haunt us.
As far as the Horror aspect of the film, it has its creepy moments mixed in thanks to solid cinematography and soundtrack. Assisting in this is an unknown pretty girl in a yellow dress played by Sara Moore (I Can Only Imagine 2018, Wildlife 2018), acting as the killer in many scenes. Who is this little girl? Is she a figment of Sandy’s imagination, or something more? That is for you to decide when putting all the pieces of the puzzle together with Children of the Corn: Runaway.
Featuring a talented cast of actors who do a fine job with their roles, no one mailed it in and there is a strong connection between the characters and the audience. Those looking for a little more incentive to check out Children of the Corn: Runaway out, the beloved Actor Clu Gulager (Killers 1964, The Return of the Living Dead 1985) takes on a small role as diner customer Crusty. By the way, Clu is the father of director John Gulager, just in case you were wondering.
Some may write-off Children of the Corn: Runaway as another subpar sequel in the Children of the Corn franchise, but honestly, it is really not that bad at all. Nicely shot, perhaps a little slowly paced, it does enough to strike curiosity and make you think after viewing it. The bottomline is you need to remove yourself from any idea that it will be like the original film and really look at it as a stand-alone Horror flick. For these reasons, CrypticRock gives Children of the Corn: Runaway 3 out of 5 stars.