Review Date: October 31, 2011
Released by: Echo Bridge
Release date: June 7, 2011
Widescreen 1.85| 16x9: Yes
When they conceived of the auteur theory I think they overlooked one major detail: genre film sequels. The idea is that in spite of the producers, the actors and the crew, the one thing that should stand out in a film is the director. Their obsessions, preoccupations, styles and themes should stand out above story or genre. It's easy to prove this when you look at the greats like Kubrick, Antonioni, or Bresson, but what about guys like Guy Magar (Stepfather 3
, Children of the Corn: Revelation
), Ethan Wiley (House II
, Children of the Corn V
), Irvin Kershner (The Empire Strikes Back
, RoboCop 2
) - guys who have made a career of making sequels to other people's movies. Does the style of Poltergeist 2
owe more to it's director or more to the original film (which itself isn't even considered a product of its director)? Or what of the producer's involvement in Halloween II
, Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2
or Curse of the Cat People
? The continuity, marketability and the interchangeable makeup of horror films and sequels reveal the major prospect of artistic "ownership" when it comes to horror. For analysis, I present the seventh picture in the enduring Children of the Corn
franchise, 2001's Revelation
Distancing itself as much as possible from the farce that Gatlin had become in Part 666
finds us on a different side of Nebraska – the city of Omaha. Yep, the series is returning to the streets that made Urban Harvest such a fan favorite. Kinda. While it’s set in a present day apartment complex, it also harkens back to a rural settlement that existed years ago on the very earth where the high rise resides. Jamie (Claudette Mink
) comes there to visit her ailing grandmother, but finds nothing but a few stalks of corn, a couple creepy kids dressed in their best Amish linens and some cryptic warnings. For those who’ve stuck with the series thus far, we call that The Usual. The building where Jamie’s grandma allegedly had residency is visibly condemned, with not-so-subtle corn stalks growing all over the front entrance. She’s got a notice of eviction on her door, but where is she? Jamie sets to kernel this little mystery.
Despite being in disrepair, the complex is remarkably still filled with people. Jamie befriends one of them, a stripper named Tiffany (Crystal Lowe
), who has no trouble stripping down into her undies in front of her during their introduction. There’s also the stoner, Jerry (Troy Yorke
), who invites Jamie on a barbecue date on the building’s roof (romantic, I know) but never ever makes it down (and it’s not because he’s high, either). Two of the other tenants are a couple of creepy kids who don’t seem to have any traces of a mother and father, and when they’re not standing there vacantly staring at whomever enters the elevator, they’re planting the seeds for the tenants’ destruction, literally. In the most notable kill in the film, the little boy drops some corn kernels in a bathtub, causing stalks to grow out and asphyxiate Tiffany while she bathes. Somehow, I don’t think this is the “moral cleansing” that He Who Walks Behind The Rows was talking about…
While Mr. Rows is not in this film, there’s a priest instead that helps to provide some exposition (Michael Ironside
, identified simply as “Priest”). He points Jamie to an old photograph that helps to explain her grandmother’s absence and some of the origin of all this corny horror. As Jamie gets closer to solving the case, so too does Detective Armbrister (Kyle Cassie
, Hellraiser: Hellseeker
, Lost Boys: The Tribe
), to whom Jamie had filed a missing person’s report earlier. Armbrister is going to have to get a whole lot closer, though, because the kids have all returned, and they’ve got Jamie trapped in the apartment and led by child preacher Abel (Sean Smith
) are ready for another sacrifice.
Director Guy Magar, although responsible as the writer and director of his own universe in Retribution
, is probably best known as directing the inferior but still serviceable second sequel to The Stepfather
. He brings that same workmanlike approach to the Corn
franchise here, and delivers a film that's, you know, not bad. Visually it's got kinetic camera work with some Dutch tilts and roving steadicam and an infatuation with darkness. Like in that atmospheric, smoky opening of Stepfather 3
, the night seems to come alive when Magar is at the helm. Performances, not so much.
Also like Stepfather 3, the acting seems to be all over the map, with nobody acquitting themselves rather well. Michael Ironside is totally wasted, and both interpretations of that assessment probably apply. His character really seems to have no purpose, and other than brooding silently in the shadows he really has nothing to do. Better is the spunky Canadian Crystal Lowe, who seems to have made quite the career for herself in getting naked in thankless roles between this, Wrong Turn 2
and Final Destination 3
. She adds some jubilance (and boobilance) when the middle bit of the film starts to, um, sag. Claudette Mink in the lead is adequate, but again like the rest of Magar's approach, nothing special. Finally, the kids are almost all non-threatening, although the main baddy at the end does have a couple scary moments with a digitally manipulated low voice. As a Guy Magar film, this seems to fit the bill with Made for TV performances contained within flashes of low budget visual style.
As much as this is Magar's film though, I'd argue it is equal parts S.J. Smith’s. his only other credit is the deplorable Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation
, and while this is much better, the same idea of having a female naive initiated into the dark underbelly of an urbanity brought on by repression and tragedy still applies. The themes and arcs of both films are so similar you wonder if they were both derived from the same script. They do both represent his only credits. Even the evil seems similar, in that both seem to be subconscious fears manifested as organic objects. The corn stocks that bleed when punctured in Revelation
seem a lot like the throbbing tentacles in that bloody apartment mess in Initiation
This film works better than Initiation though, because while Brian Yuzna was more concerned with reprehensible depravity, gore and sexual smut, Magar at least tries, and succeeds, at the more classical tropes of horror with some well-staged deaths and setup and release storytelling patterns. There's also a degree of wit in the storytelling, like how the ghostly children that occupy the apartment transfix themselves on a game of SEGA's The House of the Dead
. It ain’t high art, but Magar at least treats the material with respect, and the story is unique enough to at least tread water compared to the six films that came before it.
fans, too, should find a degree of freshness to this entry. After the mess that is Isaac's Return
s jumps away from that entry's jumbled attempt at continuity and also breaks from the usual Corn
formula. Rather than the usual reversal of power idea where kids terrorize adults with religious fervor, Revelation
instead functions more like a ghost story. While the end wraps up too quickly, leaving some of the more intriguing points unanswered (why the hell does Ironside's character tease that vintage photo the way he does?) it still has enough mystery to it to string us well enough from kill to kill. Like The Gathering
, this is a more mature approach at the Corn
template, and for those who grew up with the series (and probably grew past it, too) this is a solid entry. Is it Guy Magar's film or S.J. Smith's? Probably both, but the main point is that it's a watchable one, and as The Final Sacrifice
and Isaac's Return
has taught us, that's not always a given in this franchise crap (crop?) shoot.
Lensed by Danny Nowak (Hard Core Logo
, The Big Hit
is a slick and stylish looking movie. The Corn
films have all surprisingly had a mostly polished look, and this one might be the best looking. That said, this transfer isn’t. Another interlaced transfer from Echo Bridge, Revelation
looks fairly soft. Part of the problem is that the camera is so kinetic and active here it introduces movement that exacerbates the interlacing and softness of the picture. The film has a relatively low bitrate, and it’s evident during the closeups and static shots, where detail is lacking. Colors, though, are vivid and accurately represented here. Shadows and blacks tend to get a little muddy, hampering many of the moody scenes in the apartment. I’d love to see what this film would look like with a better transfer, but as it is it’s just about serviceable.
Despite being made in 2001, Children of the Corn: Revelation
is only presented in two-channel audio. Stereo is all you get here. The music is smooth, dialogue is clean, and effects register tack sharp. The end, when the bass would normally kick in, is relatively flat, and that final explosion is pretty pedestrian in 2.0. But whatever, it sounds clear and that’s all you need to get through this field.
Looks like Jamie’s grandmother wasn’t the only one evicted. No extras here, yet again. It’s kind of sad, and surprising, even, that Corns 2-7
have no extras whatsoever.
After the muddled and incomprehensible finale of Isaac’s Return
, the fact that there’s a strong story here is, well, a revelation. Revelation
, while not having any continuity with the previous films, is a solid self-contained entry that gets the ethos of the series right. The cinematography is expressive, the kids are creepy and like The Gathering
before it, this is a tense, mature Children
entry. The DVD by Echo Bridge is as bland as cornmeal, and it’s got about the same amount of fixings, too. Still, horror fans looking for a little entertainment should find the cob satiating.
Movie - B
Image Quality - C
Sound - C+
Supplements - N/A
- Running time - 1 hour and 22 minutes
- Rated R
- 1 Disc
- Chapter Stops
- English Dolby Digital 2.0