Let’s recap a few endings, here:
Movie 1: There are still kids alive in Gatlin, and a couple who aren’t married take the two normal children off with them.
Movie 2: The couple (though not the kids) are mentioned but never seen, and the remaining kids kill everyone in the next town over. A reporter, his kid, and their respective girlfriends all drive away. Most of the kids live.
Movie 3: At least, one of the kids lives, because he has been around for every major slaughter in Gatlin, because I guess there have been a bunch. His adopted brother lives, as does his girlfriend, but his foster parents are dead, and so are her parents. The evil corn, however, is about to go worldwide.
What we have here are called “dangling plot threads.” If anyone actually cared about any kind of continuity, this movie would trying to tie all these different stories together. But since the only elements anyone seems to think are important are children and corn, well, no one is going to make an attempt.
And I still have no idea what year it is.
What I can tell you is, even the movie doesn’t know what its title is. The box, and the DVD information, say this is “Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering.” But the movie itself, as the credits roll, insists that it’s just: “Children of the Corn: The Gathering.”
I realize that kind of thing is nitpicky, but isn’t that why we’re all here?
As our story begins, an older woman is standing inside her house. There’s a boy outside, who holds up his hand. It has a cut in it. He says one word: “Help.”
The kindly matron invites him in, then tells him to go sit down. She goes to the medicine cabinet to get cut-fixing stuff, and knocks over a glass, which shatters in the sink. She is not harmed by this glass in any way.
I find it sad that the movie is desperate to get us to jump this early on in the flick, but can’t afford a black cat to come leaping out at us.
She goes back to the kid and sticks a thermometer in his mouth because he felt hot to her. He starts to tend to the wound, not noticing the sweat dripping off the kid’s brow, or the blood coming out of his mouth.
The kid stands up, the thermometer falls out of his mouth, and it shatters on the floor. She’s gonna need to call a HAZMAT team, get rid of the mercury.
The kid falls over, revealing other bloody patches on his shirt. The woman backs up. The kid starts to turn into… something-or-other. A monster-type thing, I guess.
The woman runs. The monster attacks.
The woman wakes up. Wow. Dream sequence. At the very start of the movie. Perhaps it’s that corn, the stuff that was going bad? Could it be?
The credits roll, and remind us that this series is still, they totally swear for serious, based on a short story by Stephen King.
Eventually, the credits stop rolling over black, and start rolling over footage of a woman in her 20s driving through country and city roads in her car. She reaches the place where the lady who has bad dreams lives, and says, “Welcome home.” To herself.
She greets the bad dreams lady, and we learn our new friend is named Grace. Bad Dreams Lady is her mom.
Then the movie just starts whipping characters at us. We meet Grace’s sister and brother, who are both WAY younger than she is. By maybe 10 years. The kids are named Margaret and James.
Also in the room is “Doc,” who seems to have no other name, but who happens to be sitting with mom when Grace comes in. Doc asks Grace to walk him out. Then we get a flash-cut of mom’s nightmares, because this movie is supposed to be scary, and not a family drama. (Note: These flash-cuts happen CONSTANTLY in this movie. I refuse to mention it every time it happens, because this thing would be twice as long. If you really want the same effect, convince a friend to sneak up behind you and yell BOO at you once every three minutes or so.)
Doc and Grace talk. Mom is scared to go past the end of her walkway. They need to try and fix that. And Grace doesn’t have any money coming in, so Doc says she can have her old job back, working for him.
Jane and Rosa Nock, two women who appear to be about 107 years old, also drop off something in Mom’s mailbox. They’re nice old ladies, it seems.
Later that evening, some dude we’ve never seen before walks through a large field of sorghum. No, I’m kidding. It’s corn.
He takes a drink from a bottle filled with hooch, and heads into what appears to be a barn. He breaks into a well in the barn, and brings up a bucket of water. Inside the well is a dead dude, who opens his eyes when the water bucket goes by.
The drunk guy takes a drink of water, but it turns into bugs. So he starts to walk away.
Only he dropped his hooch. So he tries to reach it, but it fell behind some farming equipment.
In the well, the dead dude starts to climb the wall, but then fades out of existence.
In the barn, the drunk starts climbing under the farming equipment. Watch out for falling things made of blades, my friend.
He reaches the bottle, and rolls over. There’s a kid there, with some light burns on his face. The kid slams a scythe through some portion of the dude’s anatomy, but it’s tough to tell which part.
The kid tells the man that “he” will send angels to those who drink strong drink. Then the kid waves his hands around a bit, and a pitchfork, a shovel, and machete, all of which are tied up over the dude’s head on a rafter, fall and impale the drunk in various body parts.
Then he takes a scythe and chops into the guy, as the movie cuts away.
To where? To Grace, who is putting Margaret to bed, while talking to her brother James about Charles Manson.
Margaret confesses that she likes Margaret better than mom.
Grace talks to Mom, and Mom recounts the dream she had about the boy. Grace tells mom to take her medication.
In the barn, the freaky kid-demon-thing collects some blood from the now-very-hacked-up drunk dude. He draws a cross on his hand using the blood. The cross starts on fire. The Demon blows it out.
Margaret moans in her sleep. Grace cleans up the house, complaining that no one there seems to know about recycling. Margaret goes to see Grace. She has a fever. Mom finds Grace. James also has a fever.
Grace’s friend comes to visit. They talk about a bunch of stuff that may or may not be important. But the movie doesn’t bother to tell us the friend’s name, even though we learn she works at a school now.
The next morning, Mom takes the papers to the end of the walkway. Burn-boy is standing in the corn, watching her.
Grace goes to work at Grand Island Community Clinic.
Um… Gatlin, anyone? We appear to have forgotten about it.
Grace tries to get a kid named Michael to stick a thermometer in his mouth. He says no.
The phone rings. There’s a parent with a sick kid on the other end.
Grace looks around the waiting room. There are a ton of sick kids there.
In an actual doctor-place, Doc talks to a kid who has the same thing all the other kids have, plus hemophilia. Wow. That’s going to be a nauseating sequence, when we get back to that kid.
Doc decides to keep the really sick kids at the clinic overnight.
Later that evening, we get a shot of a bottle of pills, and learn that Mom is actually named June, and also yes, they really do live in Nebraska, so at least they got the STATE right, if not the city. That has to count for something, right?
Oh, and her prescription is “Sleeping Pills.” Way to do research, you chucklehead screenwriters. You could have at least made up a drug name.
June takes a pill. Then she takes two more.
Night falls. Demon Kid, who is in the barn again, says, “Come to me.” Then dead drunk guy starts on fire.
We get shots of various kids moaning in their sleep.
At the clinic, Doc and Grace take temperatures. They have four kids, who all have a temp of 103. They’re hot blooded, as the doctors have just checked and saw. (Ye cats, that was a long way to go for a joke.)
The feverish kids call out to their parents in their sleep.
All the kids’ temps keep going up.
Doc tells Grace to prep an ice bath. She does.
Demon-kid does a flashy thing.
Moms everywhere stick their kids in ice baths.
Grace has a vision of Margaret in a bath full of blood.
Margaret kind of flies up in the air and calls to Grace. She falls back on the bed and goes to sleep.
All the kids’ fevers break.
Grace goes home to get some sleep. She walks into her room. There’s someone in her room, and also Demon-kid, who does some freaky stuff and then vanishes.
Grace wakes up. Yet another dream sequence. Fun.
Doc says he’s going home to get some sleep, and tells Grace to keep an eye on the kids.
The next day, Grace and Doc send all the kids home.
June walks to the end of her walkway, saying a Hail Mary. Demon-kid is in the corn. June looks around, but doesn’t seem him.
That night, hemophilia-kid (his name is Marcus) is told to go to bed. He turns off the TV, and sees the reflection of the Demon-kid.
Marcus’s mom goes to tell him to turn off the TV, and he says he won’t be able to go when they move the next day. He opens the curtains to the patio door, revealing three kids who have white makeup on their faces. Are they dead? Demons? No idea.
Mom screams, and someone attacks her with a scythe, first cutting off her fingers and then slashing her up a bit. She screams, but Marcus just stands there, and dad is trapped in another room and can’t help.
Dad finally breaks in, but the scene is over.
Grace puts Margaret to bed, and sees some marks on Margaret. But Margaret claims she wasn’t playing with fire or poison ivy. So Grace leaves.
Back at Marcus’s house, the sheriff grills Marcus’s dad, Donald, about what happened. Marcus, meanwhile, climbs a nearby fence and walks off into the corn. The sheriff gives chase.
The sheriff walks around for a long while, to build tension. And because filming walking around is super-cheap. Finally, the sheriff says he’s going to count to three, and if Marcus doesn’t show up, Marcus is going to be in big trouble.
Marcus doesn’t come. Then Marcus does. He tosses the sheriff a burlap bundle. The sheriff opens it. It’s the drunk guy’s head. The sheriff freaks. Then Demon-kid (at least I guess it’s him, it’s hard to tell, given the only-semi-competent way the flick is shot) jams a scythe through the sheriff.
The sheriff dies.
Demon-boy walks off.
Marcus’s dad goes running through the corn, and finds the sheriff. He keeps on running.
At Grace’s house, Margaret looks for Grace. Grace feels her head. When she pulls her hands away, Margaret has wounds all over her face.
Grace wakes up. She was asleep on Margaret’s bed. Grace sits up. Margaret stabs her. Grace wakes up AGAIN.
Marcus’s dad, Donald, goes to the Nock sisters and says he needs a place to hide. It seems they’ve “heard” about his troubles, though I have no idea how, since they just started like an hour ago.
Regardless, they take Donald in.
The next day, Grace takes some blood from Margaret. She also tries to put some ointment on Margaret’s rash-thing. It hurts Margaret.
Doc shows up, and offers to help out, but Grace blows him off.
Grace drives Margaret to school, so they can listen to the radio and hear the Donald story.
Night falls. Doc goes to leave the office. A mom is there with her twin boys, who are acting all freaky. Among other things, they say that their real names aren’t their names.
Doc says they’re “pulling mom’s leg” and says he’ll keep them overnight, so their mom can get some sleep. Mom leaves. Doc verbally confronts the kids, but they still claim to not be who they are.
The confrontation continues. Turns out, the boys are using the names of a real set of twins that lived in the area years ago. They were killed by their dad. Doc says he’s going to recommend a vigorous spanking for the kids.
June tells Grace that she’s taking the pills, but things just keep on getting worse. The dreams, that is.
Meanwhile, Doc and the twins hash things out the only way they can be hashed out in a horror movie: with violence. There’s a locust. And the kids (including the evil unexplained kid) appear and disappear. It ends with bloody streaks on the door and Doc lying dead on a gurney.
Later that night, Grace goes to the clinic. She looks at a paper and gets all concerned. Then a gurney starts rolling around. Grace prepares to freak out and run. But she gets pulled into a room by Marcus’s dad, who we all pretty much forgot about. He wants to know where the kids are.
There’s some intense verbal sparring that comes out like so: Marcus was “infected” with something, and the blood tests Grace gave her sister don’t make any sense. All the kids have some kind of disease, and Marcus’s dad is of the opinion that what happened to Marcus is going to happen to all the other kids, too.
Dad leaves. Grace stands there, trying to figure out if the plot is too complicated, or nonsensically simple.
The next day, Grace takes more blood from her siblings. Then she drives them to school.
There’s a kid there dribbling a basketball in slow motion, so that it’ll be freaky. Grace goes to open the door for Margaret, and Margaret pulls out one of her teeth and says, “I’m not Margaret.”
At home, June looks out the window and sees a kid coming out of the corn. It’s a little girl. She knocks on the door, and shows June a wound on her elbow. The scene continues as an exact replica of the one at the opening of the movie, only the kid is a girl instead of a boy.
Well, that’s what happens until she gets downstairs, and sees that the girl is now the boy from the start of the movie. She runs out the door, to the end of her walkway, and then stops. The kid breaks a window in her door with a scythe, and she decides that to run is a good plan. She gets into her car and drives away.
Elsewhere, Grace drives her sister and brother to the hospital. Parents are lined up outside with all their kids.
Grace goes in and takes charge, even though she’s not a doctor. For some reason, she knows that Doc is gone, even though she doesn’t have, say, a note from him. Or his corpse.
She deputizes her friend from earlier in the movie as her new nurse.
Grace tells her friend that Margaret is spitting out blood and teeth. In answer, her friend spills an envelope of teeth into Grace’s hand. Grace tells her friend to take blood from the kids, give them gauze to chew on, and to find the Doc.
Out by a barn, Jenny sees her son, James, and pulls over. She goes into the freaky, freaky barn. She calls to James. She walks around.
Something that looks like a wet rope grabs her and drags her towards a pitchfork. The camera cuts away.
Back at the hospital, Grace takes another look at the blood tests and says that they appear to be mixed with “something dead.” She decides to take Margaret to Doc’s to figure out where he is.
Oh, and all the kid’s medical charts are missing. So there’s that.
Grace and Margaret are in the car, ready to drive away, when Donald, Marcus’s dad, shows up again, this time with a shotgun. He tells Grace to leave the kid behind, because he and Grace have “someplace to go.”
Grace tells Margaret to stay with Mary Anne. Which is the name of her friend.
Out in the corn, kids are walking. And not talking.
Grace and Donald go to visit the Nock sisters. They give Grace a picture of traveling preachers. It’s an old picture. The boy in the picture, who was born “of sin” to a young girl.
The preachers took him in, and he became Josiah, The Boy Preacher. It seems he was good at what he did, and made the preachers rich. The only thing was, the preachers would come back, year after year, and the boy was still just a boy.
Wow. That almost ties in with established mythology. That and the fact that it’s the harvest moon.
Back at the hospital, Mary Anne drops a blood sample, and the blood comes out of the test tube and… I can’t really tell. It looks like the blood is vanishing, but it’s unclear what, exactly, is going on.
The Nock sisters continue to talk about the boy who stayed a boy. It seems the traveling preachers did everything in their power to keep him young. Kept him from sleep. Fed him quicksilver. But none of that worked, so they abandoned him.
Er… what now? I thought they did something to keep him young. Kind of a black magic thing? No? That’s right, I’m watching this movie, right now, and typing, right now, and the sisters here have opted to change their story. The boy did NOT stay a boy, after all. The preachers abandoned him, and so he killed them with a scythe.
In turn, the town dragged the boy out into the cornfield and burned him. It seems he screamed way longer than he should have. The next morning, the Nock sisters collected all the bones and ashes of the kid and sealed them up in a well.
Now, Josiah is looking for a “like child,” and once Josiah finds that kid, well, it’s game over for everyone. He’ll take over all the kids.
The Nock sisters tell Grace to “take back the child.”
And who’s the like child? Margaret. Who isn’t Grace’s sister at all. Nope. She’s Grace’s daughter.
At the hospital, Mary Anne is experimenting with the blood samples. Which suddenly all pop their corks and overflow.
Mary Anne tries to run away, only to be attacked with various medical implements. And then killed by a flying scythe.
Grace and Donald make it to the hospital, and Grace runs through the halls calling to Margaret. There’s blood everywhere. Donald sees Mary Anne’s blood experiment, and tries to figure out what was going on. Turns out, the blood is afraid of “quicksilver” – which is actually mercury. There was mercury in Margaret’s filling, which is why her tooth fell out.
Donald asks where the supply closet is.
Back with the Nock sisters, one of them tells the other that “it’s time.” She continues: “Your boy’s come home.”
Out at the freaky barn, kids are gathering, and saying, “I bring him my flesh,” and cutting themselves and bleeding into what looks like a tub full of water.
Grace and Donald throw a bunch of stuff in a vehicle and make tracks. Donald breaks open thermometers and dumps the Mercury inside them into some shotgun shells.
At the barn, Margaret says that the “boy” is going to use her soul to lead them. Then she leans way over the tub o’ water and blood.
Marcus cuts himself, and sits around bleeding. Because, duh, hemophilia.
There’s a lot of shock cuts and chanting, “We bring him our flesh.” A hand reaches out of the water and blood and pulls Margaret under.
Donald and Grace get to the barn. They have two red shells, with mercury in them, and a bunch o’ black shells, which Donald says he “hopes” they don’t have to use to shoot children.
They go into the barn, and see Marcus on the floor. They slip around to somewhere else.
Margaret comes shooting out of the water.
Grace fills up the water tank outside the barn with a compound that has mercury in it. Donald goes to get Marcus. I have no idea how he’s going to accomplish this.
Grace goes back into the barn, carrying the shotgun.
Lucky for Donald, no one is looking at Marcus. So Donald grabs him and runs.
Then all the kids leave. For some reason. Grace calls to Margaret.
Donald takes Marcus to his truck and tries to stop the bleeding. All the kids surround his truck and start doing some damage.
In the barn, the evil kid attacks Grace. So she shoots him. He doesn’t like it.
Outside, the water tank is building pressure. Not quite sure how or why.
Inside the barn, Grace finds one of Margaret’s ribbons. And Doc. Who is still very dead.
Grace reloads the shotgun with black shells. The evil boy attacks. She shoots. He falls. She goes to pull the chain on the sprinklers. He attacks. She falls. She shoots the water tank. It sprays him. His face melts off. The sprinklers fire up.
Grace knocks the evil kid into the tub of water.
Outside, the kids who were attacking Donald’s truck vanish. Marcus wakes up. Donald says he’ll be all right.
Inside the barn, Grace pulls Margaret out of the tub of water, and gives her CPR. Margaret wakes up. She’s okay!
A few days later, Margaret, Grace, James, Donald and Marcus stand over June’s grave. They get ready to part ways. James gets into Grace’s car, and sees a locust, which lands on the window. He stares at it, all freaky-like. We’re supposed to get worried, but then he swats the locust and says, “Let’s go.”
The End? Yes, the end. Well, not really. Three more of these things to go. Let us hope one of them remembers HE WHO WALKS BEHIND THE ROWS. Which this flick did NOT.