Originally supposed to be released on April 13, 2018, the long-delayed superhero/horror mashup The New Mutants finally received a theatrical release as one of the first new movies to play in theaters since March. Sadly, it's mostly a misfire.
Five mutant teenagers (Blu Hunt, Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Henry Zaga) are imprisoned in a secret facility that's inexplicably staffed by a single doctor (Alice Braga). In fact, it's never explained why the mysterious organization that runs this facility is happy to have just one person watch over five mutants with highly dangerous powers. Watching the film, you get the feeling that they just didn't have the budget for a supporting cast. Off the top of my head, I think there are nine speaking parts, and two of those only have very brief appearances in a single scene.
The film is almost entirely confined to a single location, too. Now, that's not always a bad thing. 12 Angry Men and The Shining have proved that you can make great art with limited casts and settings. However, director Josh Boone's The New Mutants just feels like a mishmash. There are elements of Firestarter, The Breakfast Club, and The Babadook merged with what sometimes feels like a PG-13 riff on a David Cronenberg body horror film. The youths must learn to get along while being subjected to invasive medical tests and a series of terrifying apparitions from their pasts that are becoming increasingly real. However, none of the horror set pieces are memorable.
I'm glad that The New Mutants finally got a theatrical release. Filmmakers and crew spend too many hours working on a film to see their efforts languish on a studio shelf indefinitely. I just wish it would've been better.
** Stars (Out of Four)