61 Days of Halloween- Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering

Naomi Watts and Mark Salling in Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering (Dimension)

Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering is an absolute dud. If it wasn’t for some of the performances this film might rank lower in the annals of the franchise than it does. It is seriously sluggish throughout and never gets anywhere fast.

The most notable thing about this film is that two of its more prominent players have gone on to bigger and better things and you can see why Naomi Watts and Mark Salling (Glee) are so much better than the parts they play and the film they’re in that they scarcely lift it up but merely make their portions of the film somewhat tolerable.

To get a sense of the issues that this film faces there is yet another noteworthy performance in this film and it is that of Karen Black. It’s actually a shame to see someone like Karen Black in a film like this and it made me think of the Family Guy joke about her just a little bit different, not as an obscure reference but in an obscure film.

This also one of the films in the series wherein the child prophet (Josiah played by Brandon Klayla) is missing through a large majority of the film. Rather than write him scarier he’s disfigured with bad prostheses and doesn’t invoke as much fear as he should, however, he is behind the eight ball due to his screen time.

This film also suffers from the fact that it’s the one that does the most to try and absolve the children of being evil. The corn and its disease plays a major role in this film and though some of the hospital scenes are the better ones in the film it’s a perpetuation of an unfortunate development in the series that thankfully dies after this film.

While this film does only somewhat better in juggling a blossoming romance and a horror story it misses the boat. The problem is romances are exciting and new and you “have” to watch the courtship and have it detract from the reason you’re watching the film, to be scared. Yes, it could help you connect to these characters and raise the stakes but it also introduces a lot of artifice and room for easy exposition, life stories as exchanges and so forth. Whereas in the original, the remake and the latest installment one of the stronger elements in all of them is that the couples have an existing relationship. They have a history they talk, debate, bicker and fight and you learn about them in a more subtle way and have a better chance of rooting for them because they are together and want to get out go on a honeymoon, have kids and what have you. Marriages, and/or committed relationships have more permutations, interest and conflicts than star-crossed love stories.

The other huge issue with this film is indicated by the subtitle, The Gathering. There’s not much more to it than that. It’s likely if not the most, one of the most anticlimactic films in the series. In the other ones, even those that aren’t good, at least deliver a compelling climax, in conception anyway.

I frequently write about the last image, shot and/or scene of a film being very important. After a film such as this one you want that scene to something quick and simple and hopefully not open, I’ll grant it that this one wasn’t an open end but still kind of a gimmicky one but unfortunately fitting considering what preceded it.

3/10

Review- Glee: the 3D Concert Movie

Chris Colfer and Lea Michele in Glee: The 3D Concert Movie (20th Century Fox)

Perhaps the only real preface that this needs is that this concert film, perhaps more so than most, is really geared towards the fans of the show. I’m not sure how it would translate to someone who doesn’t watch it regularly. For the record, I didn’t see the first season and do not care for the term “Gleek” in general, therefore, I will not refer to myself as such despite watching the show.

So, basically, if you like the show you’ll likely enjoy this, if you don’t like the show you won’t care for this because this has a lot of the same pros and cons as the show does. What disappoints in a new and surprising way are some of the technical elements of the film.

The cinematography of the concert scenes is trite and facile and doesn’t engage you at all. A further problem is few and far between are the times where you get a true sense of depth which is an issue in a 3D film on an aesthetic level and on a value level since the poorly shot 3D is costing you extra money.

The editing within songs during the film and of the film as a whole is also a bit uninspired the pattern is quickly and easily decipherable and not very creative in the least.

What is not a given that takes this film a slight cut above things like the Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana film and the Jonas Brothers are the interstitial segments where fans of the show discuss what it has meant to them and how the show has made a difference in their life. We learn a little of their story and also of the positive impact that the show is made. Aside from the focal stories there are random interview snippets and of course the four-year-old Warbler wannabe who is hilarious.

Another aspect that lends this film a bit of a dynamic element is that for the most part you see the actors offstage staying in character, which leads to some very humorous moments throughout. This fine line between documentary and narrative makes the film a little more interesting than it otherwise would be.

The songs that are chosen are great and are performed very well and due to the concert nature of the performance are not overproduced. You get to see Lea Michele, Chris Colfer and Amber Riley really sing without exorbitent amounts of affectation. It also showcases Mark Salling who is likely the most underrated of the show’s performers. The concert’s set list is a bit like the show, however, it’s at times a bit unbalanced and skewed towards a few performers but eventually everyone in the film does get their moment.

While it can’t even be called the best film of its subgenre this year it is as mentioned before better in terms of overall content than those in the past few years. It’s light enjoyable fare that will definitely please fans if not necessarily create new ones.

7/10