Nomadland, More Adults than Children or Corn, and Sassy Waitresses: Is Children of the Corn: Runaway (2018) Worth It?

This is part of the Horrorathon for the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO). 

The tenth Children of the Corn movie was released a full seven years after the ninth entry. Unlike many of the loose sequels, this entry follows one of the corn cult children as an adult. In this movie, Malachai’s pregnant girlfriend Ruth really did burn down the cornfields and flee Gatlin, only to realize getting out of the corn cult isn’t going to be that easy.


The movie begins with a flashback of a very pregnant Ruth burning down the corn field before pulling over to give birth to her and Malachai’s son. She vows to herself that He Who Walks Behind the Rows can never have her son since He had taken everything else from her.

13 years later, Ruth and her son are essentially modern day nomads in order to avoid the corn cult.

When their truck is impounded till she can produce verification she owns it, they are stuck in a very rural town. She sees a man named Carl is hiring a mechanic, and after his initial reluctance to hire someone with no experience or references on sight, he takes pity on them and hires her.

Probably the same look Carl’s actor gave the script

Carl walks with a limp and shares his own dark past – his wife and daughter were killed in a drunk driving accident. Immediately, there is sexual tension between Carl and Ruth. We know this because he sees her bending over in shorts to work on a car, and throws pants at her a minute later.

I wonder if a man wrote this script!

At the local diner, Ruth flips out and grabs a child’s wrist who she thinks is raising his hand to attack her. This upsets the other customers, but a kind waitress named Sarah sticks up for Ruth and tells the other diners to pipe down.

Aaron gets upset and leaves the diner, implying Ruth is prone to outbreaks like this thanks to an incredible amount of post traumatic stress disorder from her role in what happened in Gatlin. Ruth also seems to see visions of a girl in a yellow dress no one else sees.

If making me feel like I’m about to be bullied on the playground = scary, consider me shaking in my boots!

Carl tells Ruth and Aaron about an abandoned house they begin squatting in. Ruth tries to enroll Aaron in school, but encounters a Dolores Umbridge-like principal who just rattles off bitchy, racist things like it’s her job including, “we need proof of parental status”, “if you want to shack up with that colored boy that’s your business”, and “we don’t need your little circus of crazy here” (To be honest that last one is a pretty funny line delivery).

You know she’s stern because she has lil cross earrings

Carl and Ruth decide to have a drink together, and they give in to their obvious sexual tension and almost sleep together. But when Aaron walks in on them in the living room Ruth immediately kicks Carl out and apologizes to her teenage son for having a romantic interest?

The next day, Aaron is playing with a corn husk doll. And we all know once corn dolls of any kind start appearing…

Ruth becomes so distracted from her job she forgets to put the cap back on a customer’s car after an oil change causing their car to break down. Carl fires her. Things are really going south now because the slow motion basketball dribbling from Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest and Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering is back!

Unfortunately for Carl, he gets a visit from the perpetually bored looking yellow dress girl. She takes him by surprise and beats him to death with a wrench in a surprisingly long three minute sequence of Carl continuously trying to crawl and get away from her.

Later, Ruth sees what appears to be children giggling and dismembering a dead animal and decides she has had enough. She takes Aaron to the diner and implores Sarah to take him out of town while she takes care of something. Obviously Sarah, practically a total stranger, asks for more context. Ruth explains she is from Gatlin “where all those kids went crazy and murdered their parents.” In fact, Ruth tells Sarah she was one of those kids. She explains the cult has been following her and Aaron, and she knows there are members of the cult in this town.

Sarah eventually agrees to take Aaron to Tulsa. Or does she? She doesn’t because SHE is actually the cult member that’s after them. This is revealed in the best moment in the entire film. A drone zooms in on Sarah and Aaron hanging out on top of a water tower, looking down at corn fields instead of leaving town.

Sarah: Up here I’m struck by the perfection of it all…if you are quiet enough you can actually hear the corn growing.

Aaron: We’re not going to Tulsa, are we?”

Sarah: Nope.

*takes off nametag*

Aaron: Didn’t think so.

Children of the Corn: Runaway Getting Corny With It

Ruth, believing the mean school principal to be the cult member, murders her and her family in a fugue state. She thinks the little girl in the yellow dress has killed them…but then she realizes much to nobody’s surprise that SHE is the little girl. She’s been envisioning herself as a child doing the killings, and when Sarah snaps her out of her fugue state, the little girl disappears and Ruth is the one covered in blood.

Sarah has brought Aaron to see what his mom did. Ruth begs for her son to flee, but he stabs her to death instead. In the final moments, children are seen flocking to a church where Aaron is now a dead ringer for Isaac, giving a fire and brimstone sermon about the sins of adults and the importance of He Who Walks Behind the Rows.

At the back of the church, Sarah smiles on.

Random Notes/Analysis:

  • I love that this movie actually features a grown up cult member as the protagonist, and doesn’t shy away from her role in the murders. It even hints in an early flashback that she slit her own mother’s throat!
  • I love the way the movie built the reveal of Sarah being a cult member. She goes from appearing to be a kind, sassy waitress who puts people in their place to someone who upon further reflection seems mean-spirited and a bit malicious.
  • In a fun little nod to Ruth’s name, while she is driving she briefly hears a creepy preacher reciting Ruth 1:16–17 (“Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay…where you die I will die, and there I will be…”) – implying she will never be free of He Who Walks Behind the Rows
  • On that note, the end credits include a creepy, almost snuff film-like series of grainy black and white clips of the different actors. It ends the girl in the yellow dress (aka Ruth’s inner child) being held by what appears to be He Who Walks Behind the Rows’s giant corn husk
  • This one shares a lot of DNA with The Descent – Ruth and Sarah have similar looks, both are being pushed over the edge of sanity by a supposed friend, and both suffer from extreme PTSD
  • Heteronormativity is not preserved but as the mean principal insinuates, the stigma against Ruth as a single mom somewhat conflicted with the aggressive heteronormativity of previous movies. Basically she was in a no-win situation

Is It Worth It?

Although it is superior in terms of plot to a lot of its predecessors, it is still a direct to video Children of the Corn movie. So nobody really needs to watch this. I do think it had some genuinely creepy moments, but it didn’t quite come together in a satisfying way.

And this is the LAST Children of the Corn movie that is available to watch (there is an eleventh one that got a limited release in theaters last year, but hasn’t been distributed otherwise). So next post will be a recap. Which one did I think was the worst? Which one is the…least worst since best seems like too strong of a term? Soon I will figure that out.

One thought on “Nomadland, More Adults than Children or Corn, and Sassy Waitresses: Is Children of the Corn: Runaway (2018) Worth It?

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