The New Mutants follows a group of young people that possess volatile mutant abilities that led to trauma when they first manifested. After being placed in an inescapable facility in order to control their powers, the lead doctor appears to be more than she seems, and strange and frightening occurrences around the facility lead the group to fear for their lives.
The New Mutants Review
There is always a morbid curiosity surrounding movies that are leaking rumors about troubles behind the scenes, reshoots, delays, and directors on hot water/being fired. The New Mutants hits most of these fronts, turning into such an outright debacle to the public that it was frankly a surprise that at no point did Fox just call it quits and eat the losses. I mean, sure, there was a "finished product", but to continue to try and hit the right release date just made things worse and worse. It got to the point that even the morbidly curious, like me, had lost interest.
As a horror fan and a comic book fan, the adaptations that try to tackle source material in this meshing of realms always draw my attention. Unfortunately, it seems to be as hard to succeed as video game adaptations. It makes sense. It's a rather niche crowd. The hardcore fans want something R, but is the fanbase large enough to warrant the R rating, relying on their tickets alone? Probably not, so they drop it to PG-13 and throw a little more budget at it in hopes of pulling in a good portion of the teen crowd that sees "superhero" on the poster.
This is a problem that befell films like Alien vs. Predator (which you could lazily claim was based on a comic book) and to an extent Venom, in which the violence is neutered and the reliance on effects-laden action sequences and its popular cinema icons remove all terror, tension, and substance. I actually enjoy quite a few moments of both those movies (my feelings on AVP is a massive can of worms I should probably visit some time soon), and AVP2 is proof that just making it R isn't enough to set the bar higher than your much-maligned predecessor. But these films are panned for a reason. And I would argue that it is, ironically enough, fear. It's fear to trust a fresh direction, smaller budgets, and unique visions. This fear holds back films like At the Mountains of Madness getting made and films like The New Mutants getting bludgeoned with mainstream tropes until whatever the original attempt was hardly exists.
I mean, some films just don't have it. And it's hard to know if The New Mutants was a victim of studio interference or if it was just doomed from the beginning. I often praise the innovation of horror directors and crews. They must try to achieve so much with so little. And while this doesn't always work, when it does, it's brilliant. The New Mutants may have been best off working through a small budget with its claustrophobic setting, turning into a real horror movie along the way. The goal was for it to be truly horror, and while it has some decent moments, it inevitably feels too much like an emo take on superheroes rather than a horror tale that happens to have comic book characters at its core.
To this point my soap box has dominated the review with very little critique of the film itself...Well, you can gather from that that perhaps I agreed with the majority of people that didn't care for the finished product. The writing is bland and predictable, the characters have no depth despite the dragging moments in which backstory is delivered with futility. The graphics, with the exception of a few moments, are wasted on a project claiming to be horror oriented, as the effects budget is haphazardly tossed around like a blockbuster hero team-up. The film feels like a weak X-Men entry when it isn't trying to be horror, and when it is trying horror, it feels like it was painted by numbers.
The New Mutants isn't bad enough to be "so bad it's good" and it isn't close to good enough to find redeemable qualities worth having the thought, "well...so-and-so might enjoy it." As has befallen a number of films over the decades, this movie tried to appeal to a wider audience and therein lost all of its audience. It was predictably forgettable, and I frankly don't blame myself for taking so long to get around to dealing with it.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 7/10
Horror Quality: 4/10
Film Quality: 3/10