The New Mutants follows a group of adolescent mutants in an Asylum as they attempt to come to terms with their burgeoning powers and understand the motivations of their captor, Dr Reyes.
The film has had a slew of negative reviews from critics proclaiming it to be the worst X-Men film in the series – this isn’t the case, Dark Phoenix, The Last Stand, Apocalypse and Wolverine are worse, but it is a case of wasted potential. The idea of making the film a horror film sets it apart from the other X films, in the same way Logan is a western.
The film focusses on five mutants: Maisie Williams’ Rahne, Anya Taylor-Joy’s Illyana, Charlie Heaton’s Sam, Henry Zaga’s Roberto and Blu Hunt’s Danielle. Blu Hunt anchors the film as a Native American mutant who sees her family wiped out and needs to uncover the secret of what happened.
The film plays on some interesting ideas, and it’s not afraid to delve into the darker territory that the asylum setting allows for; it’s a clear riff on A Nightmare on Elm Street 3, and that works well. It’s when the film tries to be a superhero film that it fails – more on that later. In her lead role, Hunt is absolutely electric, showing both vulnerability and strength in equal measure as her mutations manifest. Her burgeoning relationship with Williams’ Rahne is quietly moving, and shows the teen angst element that the film is aiming for.
There is also an interesting look at abuse, manifesting with Taylor-Joy’s Illyana and her history with strange Slender Man-like creatures. The backstories and mutations slowly revealing themselves work as things pile on top of each other. The scenes that work best are the Breakfast Club style ones in which the cast are simply teens interacting with one another.