With 20th Century Studios release of The New Mutants, the long gestating project introduces a new tone into the superhero genre that we haven’t seen before: horror!
(Unless you count Brightburn, which no one does…)
Set with new characters from the X-Men cinematic universe, New Mutants follows five teenagers that have recently awakened to their powers who live in a hospital so that they can learn how to use them. However, things aren’t exactly as they appear to be as (what seems like) demons begin to haunt the youth. Will they escape from this living nightmare or with they rot in this prison of a hospital?
Directed by Josh Boone, the main focus of The New Mutants is the internal battle of good and evil. For example, each of the five young mutants have all done terrible things to get them trapped in the hospital, whether its killing loved ones accidentally or otherwise. Whatever the case, each character carries a burden of shame for what they’ve done and fear the traumatic awakening of their powers. Each young mutant is at an age of emotionally instability, causing them to crave a path of self-destruction, regret, and shame. This becomes intensified when Danielle the newest mutant on the team, causes all of their fears to become reality. All of a sudden, the repressed fears and shame literally come back to life to haunt them.
Because of their inability to deal with their past, these young mutants allow their fear to become self-destructive and constantly running away from them only makes things worse. In this way, New Mutants best sums up the mental and the physical struggle that these characters face when Danielle references a proverb that her father used to say. Quoting a Native American proverb, he would tell her that, “Within every [person] there are two sides fighting for control of your soul: the good, representing love, trust, and compassion and the evil that represents fear, shame, and self-destruction.” Recognizing the internal struggle that we all face, The New Mutants understands that it is only through facing and fighting our fears that we able to overcome and defeat our personal demons.
The New Mutants makes good use of the setting and characters that they bring to life onscreen. Visually stunning and intriguing, scenes where characters make use of their powers are extremely creative and feel like a full-blown superhero epic. But the best aspect about the film is the way that it incorporates horror, an element that has not yet been incorporated into any superhero cinematic universe. In many ways, Danielle becomes the perfect character choice to develop these new elements. Haunting and terrifying on both a physical and mental level, Danielle’s journey works well and creatively pushes the genre. (After all, what’s scarier than having your fears literally come to life to kill you?) What’s more, setting the film in an old hospital is also an effective narrative choice. Known as a place of illness and where the insane go to die, there’s simply no better location for these new mutants to “get better.”
As a fresh boost into the series, The New Mutants does a great job of blending both superhero and horror genres together. While horror films are best known for low-budget efforts, this entry has the budget of a superhero film and makes good use of their special effects. (Also, to its credit, for the record, you don’t need to know anything about the current cinematic universe to understand the story either.) Worth the time for fans of either genre, New Mutants introduces audiences to a whole new world of film.
The New Mutants is in theatres on Friday, August 28th, 2020.