“The New Mutants” – Movie Review

Well it’s finally here! It’s been through reshoots, the Disney/Fox merger, a global pandemic, New Mutants is finally being released in theaters, nearly 2 ½ years after it was originally slated for release. Can it live up to all the hype, or has all the waiting given everyone an unrealistic expectation. Let’s take a closer look and find out!

The five different times it was supposed to be released…

(Spoiler Free Until the End)

Disclaimer: If you’re planning on seeing this in theaters, do your best to maintain social distancing to protect yourself and others. The only reason I went was because my group and I were the only people in the entire theater. Obviously had it been too crowded, I would have canceled the tickets and not attended. When it comes to theatrical releases, Halloween Year-Round will only do movie reviews if there is a safe option like this. And we strongly encourage everyone else to follow the same standards of caution and safety.

The Next Generation
The film begins with Dani (Blu Hunt) being suddenly woken up by her father, who tells her they need to run for their lives right now. They hightail it through the woods, as something chases them.

After hiding in a tree, Dani wakes up again in some sort of medical facility where she’s greeted by Dr. Reyes (Alice Braga). Reyes explains that this is a facility for adolescent mutants who simply need help and guidance with controlling their powers.

During the daily group sessions, Dani meets the rest of her fellow “new mutants”: the quiet and sensitive Sam (Charlie Heaton), the outspoken and rebellious Illyana (Anya Taylor-Joy), the laid back and somewhat cocky Roberto (Henry Zaga), and the meek and very kind-hearted and religious Rahne (Maisie Williams).

They make for a great ensemble!

All together, they make for an interesting and incredibly diverse cast of characters; diverse not just in nationality, but in personality.   Overall the five teens have great chemistry and banter with each other, especially given how they’re confined to this facility together.

The only minor issue with their back and forth is that after Dani arrives, the other four have some pretty exposition-heavy dialogue with each other, even when Dani isn’t in the room. One would think that since they’ve all been here together for a while, they would have already had these conversations about themselves, but the audience needed to hear it too.

As a Marvel Movie
Much like Logan, which was a Western, and Deadpool, which existed as a raunchy comedy, New Mutants toys with genre by going into horror. It’s a lot of fun to see the mythos that we already know about mutants in this new scenario.

New Mutants works really well as a standalone, even more so than the aforementioned Logan and Deadpool, probably because it relies on very minimal connection to the rest of the series.

In a lot of ways, their facility feels like the darker, mirror version of Xavier’s mansion.

Now to be fair, there is a slight, but very direct reference to another very popular X-Men movie, so while New Mutants exists on its own, it doesn’t forget where it comes from. And we can fit it in nicely into the overall franchise.

As far as the superpowers go for the titular new mutants, they range from a bit cliché like fire and supers speed, to downright badass with matter manipulation, lycanthropy, and Dani’s fear-related ability that you probably don’t want spoiled.

As a Horror Movie
To be fair, New Mutants isn’t quite a horror movie, it’s more a comic book movie that dabbles in teen horror. But that doesn’t mean that the suspenseful tone and scenes of terror are any less effective.

It gets creative and disturbing with its horror imagery.

The sad fact is, all five teens are in this facility for a reason, mostly involving some sort of incident that would have led to an arrest, had Dr. Reyes not snatched up them first.

Thusly, they all live with figurative demons that seem to become literal demons as their nightmarish flashbacks begin to manifest in the real world.

And it’s in these scenes that the horror really shines. It would have been so easy to just explain all of their backstories via dialogue, but it’s far more effective to watch their terror unfold as their tragic and horrific pasts come back to haunt them.

It’s a bit reminiscent of this really great Netflix horror movie, Before I Wake.  It was directed by Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Haunting of Hill House,  Doctor Sleep).

Spoilers Ahead – You’ve Been Warned!!!

The Legacy of New Mutants
Perhaps in some other timeline (one that hopefully doesn’t involve a global pandemic) New Mutants was released back in 2018, and its sequel was coming out now or soon, finally giving X-Men fans a cinematic version of Mr. Sinister.

Personally, he was always my favorite villain, even over Apocalypse!

To no one’s surprise, Dr. Reyes has more nefarious intentions throughout the entire movie. She keeps referring to her “superior” and the facility that he runs, promising the teens that they can be transferred there when she deems them ready.

All along, we’re led to believe the person she’s referring to is Charles Xavier, but upon seeing her practices, it’s quite clear that none of what she’s doing would ever be sanctioned by the kind, gentle, loving Professor X.

Even from the very beginning, it’s pretty obvious that Reyes is hiding something…

Her actual employer is the Essex Corporation, whom we saw turning child mutants into weapons in Logan (we even see some of that footage again as a direct reference).

He and the Essex Corporation were first hinted at in the post-credit scene of X-Men: Apocalypse. And there was originally supposed to be another post-credit scene in New Mutants which introduced Jon Hamm as Mr. Sinister himself.

This would have been really cool to see, but after the lukewarm reception of Apocalypse, as well as the Disney/Fox merger, it seems that Fox’s X-Men franchise ends with New Mutants. And it’s a shame because Sinister is such an iconic villain in the comics and it would have been awesome to see him get used.

This won’t be the last we see of director Josh Boone in the horror genre however. He’s the showrunner and director of the upcoming Stephen King adaptation The Stand on CBS All Access.

Ultimately, New Mutants works as both a comic book and horror film, but because it’s a mix of both, you probably have to be a fan of both to truly appreciate. If you’re only a fan of one of those genres, it may feel like something is missing.

It doesn’t quite live to the all the anticipation of the 2+ years we had to wait for it. But that would have been an impossible task for any movie to achieve.

And given how truly awful Dark Phoenix turned out to be, at least the Fox X-Men franchise can end on a better film like New Mutants!

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