I guess that final sacrifice wasn’t so final, eh?
The number of issues raised by the last couple of films has sort of piled up, so let’s see if we can sort through them before we get going here.
First: What happened to Burt and Vicky and the kids? I presume they’re still alive and well somewhere, right? Or perhaps not? Did another family member ever come and get the kids?
Second: What about all the kids from the two towns filled with dead parents? I presume John (and crew) “got their story out” into the world and let them know there were a few dozen kids who needed new homes. And a whole lot of treatment.
Third: Whatever became of John, Angela, Dan and Lacey? Even the two guys who were related to each other barely knew each other. And while they were all thrust together by these horrible circumstances, it’s doubtful they were able to keep things together.
I think there’s probably a solid drama in there somewhere. A sort of Lifetime movie wherein this tossed-together family tries to make it work after all they’ve been through. Or perhaps a CW series.
(Okay, this is freaking me out, because it kind of sounds like a good idea.)
There’s one final issue: He Who Walks Behind the Rows.
Rows didn’t seem to be dead, which would mean that the cleansing fire didn’t exactly do its job. That means that the creature, whatever it is, is still out there in the corn, and whoever comes to deal with it is probably going to have some serious problems.
All in all, despite the somewhat lackluster source material, there are a lot of interesting directions this could take. And it chooses?
Looks like none of them, as we open up in, naturally, a corn field.
A sign welcomes us to Gatlin, population 123. And then the movie welcomes us to a trailer home, and a drunk guy, who is calling out to someone named, “Joshua.”
Dude’s carrying a sickle, by the way. And it’s dark. So I doubt this dude wants to give Joshua a pony.
We see a kid running through the corn, and also the dude, who is walking through the corn, chopping it down with the sickle.
Joshua (I guess) ends up in front of a scarecrow, and another kid, Eli steps out from behind it. Eli knows the older man is drunk, and tells Joshua to go ahead, because Eli is the only one who can handle the older dude.
Despite the fact that Eli is clearly a few years younger than Joshua, Joshua takes off.
The man comes up, and Eli asks why the man would hurt “my brother.” Eli says he’d never hurt the man, “Even for this.” “This” is a suitcase. Eli walks to the scarecrow, and picks up a book from between its feet. The book is kind of bible-looking.
Then Eli walks away.
The man walks to the suitcase, and then the corn makes its move, attacking the man. It grabs all his limbs, and pulls on them. A cross pops up out of the ground. The corn ties the man to the cross, and then little vines sew up his lips and eyes.
Eli holds up his book, and tells something to “watch over this.”
Joshua comes back out of the corn, and tells Eli they have to go. He’s willing to let the man hurt himself, but not Eli. Eli picks up the suitcase and they go.
Joshua does not notice the “new scarecrow” behind him.
The book sinks into the ground.
In a bus station in Chicago, an older couple named William and Amanda meets their two new foster children: Joshua and Eli.
They’re introduced by their social worker.
Amanda and William take the kids home and show them around. Joshua picks up some glass art, and William asks him to put it down, because it’s very expensive. Joshua accidentally drops it, and William is kind of upset.
But Amanda says it’s no big deal, and that they should all eat.
So they go downstairs, and William brings out one pizza for a family of four. It’s clear they’ve never fed boys before. Two pizzas would be better. Three would not be a mistake.
William is about to eat, but Eli wants to say grace first. So: “Let us give thanks to He Who Walks Behind the Rows. Who protects our crops, and keeps the infidel and unbeliever in the torments of hellfire eternal. Amen.”
Amanda and William are, like, “Whoa,” but they let it go.
After dinner, William shows them the backyard. It’s small, because they live in Chicago, and Eli is non-plussed because they don’t grow corn. Which Eli thought they did.
Turns out that, no, William is a commodities trader. He SELLS corn. Yes, this really will be important.
Joshua sees some kids through the fence and goes to check it out. Turns out it’s a guy and a girl, and they’re playing basketball. Joshua and the other kids don’t understand each other’s native dress. It’s vaguely comical.
William calls Joshua back home, and explains you can’t just talk to strangers.
Upstairs, Amanda unpacks the kid’s stuff. One suitcase is all clothes. The other one is bugs. When Amanda opens it. When William opens it, it’s fresh corn, which William notes is pretty good stuff. Because he sells corn, y’know.
Which reminds me – what became of the poison corn in Gatlin? And who was this dude in the trailer, with the two kids he was going to beat? Did no one go looking for him when Joshua and Eli came around looking for new parents?
I’m a bit puzzled by how the screenwriter thinks the adoption process works.
Later that evening, William and Amanda fool around. Amanda feels a little uncomfortable with it, since there are kids in the house. But they’re clearly both excited to be parents.
They go to check and make sure the kids are asleep, and find Joshua and Eli asleep in the same bed.
Joshua and Eli open their eyes. Joshua is worried he’s screwed things up with the new family already. Poor guy.
Night falls a little more. Eli goes out to the garden, slips through the fence outside, and goes to an old, abandoned construction site. Then he uses his magical abilities to plant corn.
William is lying there, awake, so he puts the moves on Amanda. Suddenly, there’s black stuff on Amanda’s lips. She gets up, and spits it in the sink. Then she’s falling into a hole that Eli just dug.
Amanda wakes up. Dream sequence!
I don’t know that the planting thing required an extra dream sequence to make it creepy.
The next day, William tells his boss that he deserves a promotion. His boss tells him that he’s too impatient.
Amanda gives some new clothes to Joshua. Joshua is happy with his new duds. Or he seems to be, until Eli walks up to him.
When Amanda talks to the boys again, a moment later, Eli explains that modest clothing blah blah blah pious life not nice to poor kids blah. Amanda is confused, but doesn’t want to hurt her new sons’s feelings. So she says okay.
Amanda takes the kids to school, and introduces them to Father Frank Nolan, the principal. He takes them and shows them to their homerooms. Obviously, they stick out a little.
They get to Joshua’s homeroom, and then try to take Eli elsewhere, but he gets all cuh-rank!-ay! about it.
Amanda asks to speak to Nolan outside.
Joshua tries to be sort of apologetic, but really, it looks like an abusive-spouse relationship, where one partner is always like, “No, really, when he’s not drinking, he’s a GREAT guy.”
Amanda and Nolan leave. Eli goes to sit down. One of the kids tries to verbally abuse him. Joshua comes to his defense. A switchblade comes out.
The girl who lives next to William and Amanda comes to their defense, with, “What are you gonna do? Cut an Amish kid?”
The dude says he’s going to cut her, and the boy from yesterday says, no way, that’s my sister, there will be NO cutting today, sir!
The boy and girl are Malcolm and Maria, by the by.
Nolan comes back in, and everyone settles down and goes back to their seats. Except Eli. Nolan tells Eli he has to go to HIS room. Eli complies without whining this time.
Later, the high school kids play basketball. It’s clear Joshua longs to play. Maria comes over to talk to Joshua. She tells him not to taunt T-Loc, the dude with the knife.
Maria tells Malcolm to let Joshua play basketball. Joshua, as it turns out, is really good.
Eli arrives, and a growly voice in his head expresses displeasure over Joshua playing the evil game of basketball. Joshua sees his angry spouse is there, and says he has to go.
That night, Eli accuses Joshua of leaving him, and then “playing their games.” He essentially says, that if Joshua loves him, he won’t play basketball with them.
Montage! Eli talks all crazy to his corn while we see life go on. Joshua starts wearing regular clothes and hanging out with Malcolm and Maria.
Amanda catches Eli sneaking back through the fence. It seems that her plants are dying around the fence-hole.
She goes through the fence-hole, to the abandoned construction site, and finds the huge plot of corn. She goes to steal and ear of corn. She checks it out. It’s pretty good.
As she walks away, another ear of corn sprouts in its place. Evil Corn-Cam starts tracking her. She freaks out and runs. She goes into the building next to the construction site, and bumps into a homeless dude.
Homeless dude is, like, “CORN!” and he goes to the corn patch.
The next night, Amanda and William discuss the corn patch. Amanda wants William to cut it down. William thinks that’s kind of crazy. But he says he’ll look at it.
Homeless dude eats an ear of corn. The corn fights back.
The next day, William goes to the corn patch. He hears someone. It’s Eli, who says, “Boo!”
Eli asks if William wants to try the corn. William tries the corn. It’s delicious. And growing in terrible soil. And Eli grew it in four weeks. He says his “Papa” developed the strain. Eli says he sort of helped.
William tells Eli that the corn is worth a lot of money. Eli tells him, “You reap what you sow.”
I have no idea what Eli means by this. Unless he’s just being literal.
William and Eli head back to the house, while a few corn vines (roots? What ARE those things?) pull the homeless dude’s head under the ground.
Later, Eli wanders the school hallways. He comes to the place where the food is cooked. He’s holding some corn seeds. Kernels? No clue. Regardless, he sets them on a counter, and they turn into cockroaches.
The roaches invade. Silently.
Later, at lunch, Joshua sits with Malcolm and Maria. Malcolm asks why Eli doesn’t join them. So Joshua goes to invite Eli over. Eli wants Joshua to join him, instead of joining “that.”
Malcolm and Maria, by the way, are ethnically ambiguous. So every time someone gets all, “Hey, be careful around those types,” you kind of think, “Maybe it’s just racism.” But you can’t really be sure. It’s weird that way.
Joshua tells Eli that, “That” is a friend, and Eli should make some. Eli says, “Maybe I will.”
In his office, Nolan coughs up a roach. And some vomit. On his bible.
That night, Nolan dreams about the first big killing sequence in part 1. He wakes up, and finds that his bible is spattered with red gore.
The next day, Nolan gives a sermon on Joseph, and his dreams, and how though Joseph’s brothers hated him, and sold him, Joseph’s dreams were accurate. (For those who want to know more, be sure to watch “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat,” or “The Ballad of Little Jo.” Or, you know, READ THE BIBLE. The story is in Genesis.)
Eli talks during the sermon, telling Joshua that Joshua is right, Eli needs to make friends.
Nolan asks if the sermon bores Eli, and he says yes. Nolan invites Eli to do better, so Eli stands up and starts talking. About Joseph. So he starts saying that Joseph was a child, and that Joseph loved the land.
Then he goes off on a pollution tangent. It seems his “adult” brothers polluted things. Strangely, Eli doesn’t mention Joseph’s little brother. I guess that guy was okay.
Nolan figures that’s enough for one day, and sends Eli to his office.
At the office, Nolan says that when Eli is ready to apologize, Nolan will be in his classroom. Eli asks Nolan if Nolan “liked the soup.” Creepy sounds go on in the background.
Punishment note: Eli is sitting in Nolan’s office, arms held out, holding up three or four books on each hand. That looks less than fun.
Out in the hall, Malcolm is all, “I didn’t know your brother was a preacher,” to Joshua.
Joshua says that Eli got it from his dad. Not their dad. As he explains: “I’m sorry, I thought I told you. He’s my adopted brother.”
So… Eli and Joshua, not brothers by blood. So who was the dude at the start of the movie? Joshua’s birth dad, and Eli’s adopted dad? When did the kid get adopted? And where’s mom?
A better question: What YEAR is it? Part 1 came out in 1984, and 2 came out in 1992. But clearly, 2 happened shortly at 1 did. And all the kids that we saw across the two towns (and there weren’t a lot of them – maybe a couple dozen, tops) were pretty old.
Eli is in some version of middle school, so this movie can’t be taking place all that long after the previous one, right? It came out in 1995, which implies three years have gone by. In a timeline sense, I guess it works, anyway.
In her office, the social worker, who appears to be working rather late, makes a call to William and Amanda. She found some newspaper stories about Gatlin, it seems. She leaves a message saying that she has some information that concerns Eli.
Eli, it turns out, heard the message the social worker left on the machine. He goes upstairs, opens his suitcase, and takes out a candle. He lights it. He blows it out.
At the social worker’s office, the lights go out. The social worker lights her lighter, then drops it. She goes to pick it up, and there’s Eli.
She freaks, runs back to her office, and calls the police. At first, she gets a “Thanks for calling 911” kind of message, but then it ends with, “And the unbelievers shall be cleft in twain.”
The social worker lights a cigarette, to calm her nerves or something. Instead, the lighter flares up, and the flames jump into her mouth, setting her on fire, internally. Or maybe it’s just the Mexican she had for lunch. Caliente!
She screams, she turns around, she looks through the window behind her as she dies with her head on fire. Eli is there, laughing. The little scamp.
The next day, Joshua and Eli get ready to head to school. Joshua gets a kiss on the cheek. Eli asks for one as well. When he gets one, he sticks his tongue in Amanda’s ear. Then he says, “Bye, mom.”
Is it wrong that this makes me more nauseated than the head-on-fire from a minute ago?
Amanda calls William, as she’s clearly ready to freak out. William tells his receptionist that she’s in a meeting. When that doesn’t work, he tells the receptionist to tell Amanda that he’s out.
William hangs up the phone, and hands an ear of corn to some dude, so he can tell the dude how awesome the corn is. Turns out he’s talking to someone outside his company. He’s going to use the corn to get what he wants.
Back at the house, Amanda hangs out outside, clearly feeling un-good about what just happened. She decides to take action. She’s gonna cut the ear-licker’s corn down.
But no. In class, Eli is using crayons (in middle school?) to color a picture of Amanda. If you know what I mean.
It’s sad, really. Amanda hasn’t actually done anything TO Eli. Poor woman.
Amanda takes her gardening sheers and tries to cut down a corn stalk, but it won’t cut. She checks the blade for sharpness and cuts herself a little. Yep. Sharp.
Then she turns her back on the corn (bad idea!) and the corn grabs her and yanks her into the “field.” Her shoes fall off, and she gets up and runs. She gets into the warehouse, backs up, trips on a pipe, falls, and impales the back of her head on a water pipe.
Water flows out of her mouth. Then blood.
And back to Eli’s picture. Amanda is crossed out.
Later, we see William, post-funeral. He’s sad. Eli goes to him, and they hold each other. Eli is smiling.
Nolan has a nightmare again, which allows the filmmakers to reuse the footage of the doctor getting stabbed with needles in Part II.
The next day, Nolan sees Eli talking to some kids at school. Or preaching at them, I guess. It’s all ominous and such.
Elsewhere, Joshua and Maria talk. Joshua found Eli’s drawing, which for some reason he took home and stuck under their bed.
Maria says Joshua should show it to William. Joshua thinks William will assume that Joshua drew it. Uh… Why would that be? Because of the broken glass thing at the start of the movie?
Maria then suggests that he could show it to Nolan. Joshua doesn’t want to do that, either. Because after all, he and Eli are brothers.
Maria reminds Joshua that they’re “adopted” brothers. Joshua does her a favor and doesn’t punch her right in the face for being ignorant.
She realizes the error of her ways and starts kissing him. Later, they’re back at her house. There’s more kissing. She starts running him through the bases. Quite literally. Her shirt comes off. He asks about a possible home run.
Malcolm walks in at that moment. He says NAY!
Later, Joshua and Malcolm try to talk it out. Malcolm still says NAY! He doesn’t want Maria involved with a family like Joshua’s. He points out that school is out, and they’re on the basketball court, and no one is there. Where are they?
Why, they’re all watching Eli preach over at the abandoned warehouse-o-death.
T-Loc shows up. Things get tense. Eli pushes him and runs to the corn.
T-Loc follows Eli. Oh, T-Loc. If only you hadn’t randomly gotten angry at Eli again after the passage of several months and decided, out of the blue, that Eli must be stopped.
Anyway, T-Loc ends up on the ground, and the mouth of the homeless man that’s been sitting there all this time bites down on T-Loc’s hand. T-Loc freaks out. He asks for help. Eli says, “Let us pray.”
And now, it’s sermon time again. Nolan, who is clearly losing it now, finishes a lesson on Revelation, and screams out, “Does anyone have any questions?” We get a shot of a bunch of students, sitting there, stone-faced. Including Charlize Theron, in her first film role. You get to see her for half a second.
Suddenly, Eli starts whistling. Just a single note. Everyone else starts doing it, too. Nolan walks out. Eli starts laughing manically. Everyone else follows his lead.
In the cafeteria, Nolan tries to explain to another priest that things are bad. Real bad. Only the other priest points out there’s no smoking, no fighting, and things in general are way better these last few weeks.
Eli sits at a table and preaches about how Noah wasn’t so great, but his kids were pretty awesome.
Which I suppose you could agree with, only the story goes that Noah was 500 years old when he had his kids, and 600 years old when he built the Ark. Which would make his kids about 100.
I guess everything is relative. No pun intended.
Malcolm sits down to lunch with Joshua, and says, hey, it’s cool. Clearly you and Eli are not the same type of people. He asks what happened to Eli’s parents. Joshua says Eli claimed they “disappeared.” Neither Joshua nor Malcolm seem to believe it.
That night, William looks over a paper that says, no lie, “Corn Export Countries” at the top of it.
Joshua heads out the door, and William sort of tells Joshua it’s too late to go out, but it’s clear that he doesn’t care all that much about anything except the corn right now. So he doesn’t chase him.
Eli comes in, and William and Eli talk about the super-awesome corn. Eli is way happy that children will be getting some evil corn.
Joshua walks around outside, thinking about his talk with Malcolm. He goes to confront Eli, asking what happened to his (meaning Joshua’s) father.
Eli says that he made sure dad would never hurt Joshua again.
Joshua stomps off, all mad about his dead dad.
Nolan has another dream sequence, where a bunch of hooded kids traps some parent-looking people in their bed and set fire to the bed. Then the bed is in a corn field. Eli takes off his hood.
Nolan wakes up. He sees Eli. Eli attacks.
Nolan wakes up again. Double dream sequence!
That morning, the UPS guy drops off a package for Amanda. Since she’s currently dead, Joshua signs for it.
He opens it.
Moments later, he goes next door and knocks on Malcolm’s window. Malcolm lets him in.
In the chapel, Nolan asks God for help. Eli is, of course, sitting in the back of the chapel.
In Malcolm’s bedroom, Joshua finally allows the screenwriter to attempt to fill in all the stuff in the movie that doesn’t make any sense.
Joshua’s dad moved them to Gatlin when Joshua was 14, because land was cheap there. Due to, you know, some bad stuff that happened there. Apparently, Dad needed the land to work on his “corn experiments.” No, really.
Joshua pulls out the newspapers – not photocopies, mind you, but actual copies of the newspapers that feature a) Gatlin killings, and b) Eli. The first one is from 1964.
Yeah, that’s right. 1964.
He gives Malcolm some other clippings from the 60s and 70s, while talking about how Social Services keeps “good track of their orphans.” Right. Because Eli here has been walking around as a pre-teen for 30 years, and no one has noticed. That’s great record-keeping.
Point being, there have been a bunch o’ murders in Gatlin over the years, and they all happened on a Harvest Moon.
And there’s going to be a Harvest Moon (gasp!) tonight! They need to go talk to Nolan!
At the chapel, Nolan asks Eli who Eli is. Eli says, “Father. As if you didn’t know.”
Nolan throws a Bible at Eli. Eli grabs it and tears it in half with his bare hands. He demands that Nolan pray TO him. Nolan says no.
So Eli puts one of his crosses on the altar, which shoots a whole bunch of light out of it. This hurts Nolan.
We cut over to Joshua and Malcolm, so we can cut back, so we don’t have to see how Nolan ended up upside-down on a cross. We get some banter, so that the audience can learn that the only way to harm Eli is by harming Eli’s special bible. Which is currently still in a field in Gatlin.
Eli leaves. Joshua and Malcolm arrive just in time for Nolan to die while telling them to get Eli’s bible. Somehow, Joshua remembers that Eli’s bible is back in Gatlin.
A mere 9 ½ hour drive away. Really. I looked it up.
Maria goes to see Joshua. He’s not there. But Eli is.
In his office, William signs some contracts with some dudes. People shake hands.
In his house, Eli pulls out some corn and says it’s time for dinner. Then his voice gets all evil as he informs Maria that her parents are expecting them.
Malcolm and Joshua arrive at Joshua’s old trailer home. They get some sickles and head out into the corn field. Joshua remembers that the bible is at the foot of the scarecrow. But there are two of them. So they each take one.
At Maria’s house, her parents eat the evil corn. Eli and Maria (who is in a trance) tell Maria’s parents they’re going to be the first. First what?
The first people eaten from the inside out by cockroaches.
Back in Gatlin, Joshua and Malcolm play “Digging for Bibles.” Malcolm doesn’t find one.
Joshua does. Unfortunately, his dead dad turns into a living-dead scarecrow dad. Joshua runs. Into Malcolm. Then they run again.
Joshua and the world’s angriest scarecrow duel with sickles. Joshua wins. But he drops the bible.
Malcolm goes to get it, and the corn attacks him. And rips his head off.
Joshua grabs the bible and runs. He takes Malcolm’s car and drives through the corn to another road. He’s on his way back.
Now according to both Mapquest and the movie we’re watching, it takes a REALLY long time to make this drive. 9 ½ hours or so. Joshua and Malcolm were up very early (according to the movie we’re watching) and drove until after dark to get to Gatlin.
And now, also under the cover of dark, Eli is doing his preaching thing in voiceover while kids sneak out of their houses to join him.
Out on the highway, Joshua passes a sign that says Chicago is 70 miles away.
William gets home. He’s all drunk and carrying a bottle of rich-man hooch.
In the corn patch, Eli gives a bunch of kids crosses that join them to He Who Walks Behind the Rows.
Then, some more crazy-preaching by the corn. Although he supposedly cleaned up the school completely, and eliminated all basketball playing, I’m gonna guess there are maybe 20 kids there. Ah, low-budget filmmaking. What are you gonna do?
Oh, and there’s Charlize again.
While I’m pausing: Why do the kids have torches?
William shows up, and Eli tells him that it’s, “Time to rest.” Then he puts a sickle through William’s chest.
William yells out, “Eli!” and falls over.
And here comes Joshua. He tells Eli that he thinks he has to destroy Eli and the bible at the same time. He’s under the impression that Eli is like a worm. It seems that worms have two halves, and if you kill one half, the other half lives.
So. Whoever wrote this thing needs to get on his lawyer about suing J. K. Rowling over the concept of Horcruxes, I think.
At any rate, Voldemort – no, sorry – Eli shoots fire out of his sickle that knocks Joshua to the ground. He goes to shoot him again, and Joshua uses the bible to block the fire.
Eli runs into the corn. Joshua follows. The only problem is, the director forgets to actually make the corn field menacing, so it looks like what it is. About 15 stalks across, with lots of space between the rows. It’s about as scary as walking through a field of puppies.
Out of nowhere, Eli shoots more fire at Joshua. Joshua continues to defend himself with the Horcrux.
Eli now has full-on evil voice. He runs into the corn field with Maria in tow, sickle to her throat. Joshua throws Eli the book. Eli fumbles it, then picks it up.
Joshua grabs the sickle, which fell on the ground, and drives it through both the book and Eli. Eli goes up in a burst of bad animation. The animation hits all the kids. They wake up. The director gives us another shot of Charlize.
T-Loc goes to grab his butterfly knife off the ground, and a huge hand reaches out of the dirt, grabs T-Loc, and pulls him into the earth.
We get some of that classic rolling dirt action. Then the camera looks away. Then it looks back.
And what have we got? A gigantic, badly superimposed, rubber creature. With three eyes. Corn vines (seriously, what ARE those things?) start grabbing some of the kids.
Joshua sees that Charlize is down, and goes to save her. The corn knocks Joshua aside. Charlize dies.
Maria grabs the sickle, and starts cutting vines.
Kids run. Kids die.
Maria takes the sickle and drives it into the puppet’s tail. The puppet turns around and grabs her with its tongue. Maria turns into a Barbie doll. I’m 99% sure this is just a really bad special effect.
Yep, she’s human in the close-up shots.
Joshua, who is tied to a wall, in a standing position, uses his booted feet to pick up a sickle and cuts one of the vines tethering his wrists. Then he cuts his other wrist free.
The creature swallows Maria.
Joshua gets knocked through a brick wall by the creature’s tail. This doesn’t stop him.
Meanwhile, Maria slides down the creature’s throat, and into its tail.
Joshua gets up and hacks off the end of the creature’s tail with his sickle, freeing Maria.
Joshua says, “We’ve got to cut the root.”
Ah. I see. The tail is actually a “root.”
They cut the root. The creature dies. Some of the teenagers survive because of this.
Joshua and Maria start walking away, presumable to call the cops and explain a bunch of dead teens, a hideous beast, and some corn.
A few days later, we see a couple of dudes we haven’t seen before at a shipyard. They open up a crate that just got taken off ship boat. What’s in it? Corn.
One dude turns to another and says, “This is just the beginning. Soon we’ll be shipping all over the world.”
The camera pans back to the corn. Ominous singing occurs. An animated sickle clears the screen.
Good twist right? Gonna be an awesome part IV, where Joshua and Maria go on a worldwide corn destruction spree to save the people of earth.