Josh Boone directs Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy and Alice Braga in this superhero horror where five young mutants are incarcerated in an asylum.
An orphan of the Fox / Disney merger and a film publicly batted around for its reshoots, delays and obsolescence – it is difficult to expect much from the first superhero horror movie since Constantine. The tragedy of The New Mutants is it has seemingly delayed Josh Boone’s career for half a decade. In its quieter and finest moments the movie displays Boone’s strengths from The Fault in Our Stars; excellent shot framing and sensitive portrayal of imperfect teenagers. He makes his avatars human and his camerawork full of life. Especially in scenes that feel like accidental survivors of a nastier, bolder production. For example: Williams and Blu Hunt’s midnight romantic rendezvous in a graveyard will mean a lot to teenage viewers, the fact the graves appear to be the final resting place of hundreds of unnamed teen mutant former inmates is both unremarked upon and unsettling. The female actors shine here and Boone know exactly how to make their introductions, interactions and moments of anti-heroic transformation feel iconic. Shame it is in the service of a half-hearted release. Clearly on paper and in intention, The New Mutants is a horror movie in the mode of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 or The Lost Boys. The bursts of terror imagery are strong flavoured but few and far between. You could only say there is one sustained sequence of full fat creepiness. Leaving us with a lot of preamble where the characters are set-up then left idle, then a rushed finale where they “team” and face down their most pressing nemesis. The first half takes its time and never fails to be engaging despite not a lot happening, the second half skips and skims over a lot of action without really settling on what it desires to deliver. Every generation needs its The Monster Squad or The Craft or Jennifer’s Body. If I was 10 years old I’d love the imperfect but ominous The New Mutants. This is going to be a gateway film for nerd kids to explore material darker than the Spider-Man or the Deadpool flicks they are spoonfed. As a 40 year old I’m just glad the talented Boone, Taylor-Joy and Williams can move on without the eventual form of this Frankenstein’s monster being too embarrassing to their careers. It is serviceable but disposable ultimately.
Check out my wife Natalie’s Point Horror blog https://cornsyrup.co.uk
We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here https://letterboxd.com/bobbycarroll/list/the-worst-movies-we-own-podcast-ranking-and/