The long-awaited and many-delayed “New Mutants” shows us superpowered teenagers through a unique lens: horror.
The film, directed by Josh Boone of “Fault in Our Stars,” stars a well-rounded cast of actors portraying the titular New Mutants, newly awakened mutants in the Marvel Comics universe who are kept in a facility for study by Cecilia Reyes, played by Alice Braga, the mysterious doctor who claims to be helping the young mutants with their powers. The mutants consist of Danielle Moonstar, played by Blu Hunt, an orphan with unknown powers, Rahne Sinclair, played by Maisie Williams of “Game of Thrones,” a mutant with the ability to transform into a wolf, Illyanna Rasputin, played by Anna Taylor-Joy of “Split,” a mutant with the ability to manifest her imaginative persona as a powerful warrior, Sam Guthrie, played by Charlie Heaton of “Stranger Things,” a mutant with the power to blast off like a rocket in any direction and Roberto da Costa, played by Henry Zaga, a Brazilian mutant with the ability to control solar energy. The mutants work through average teenage problems as well as the underlying mystery of the facility they seem to be trapped in. As strange things start happening, the mutants begin to question their doctor and also uncover the secrets hidden in the hospital.
Unlike most films, the movie benefits from the genre-blending, this film being a blend of horror, superhero fiction and teen coming of age. Each of the characters face a very real struggle that many teenagers go through even if some of their struggles are just heavily extrapolated metaphors. For example, da Costa struggles with his powers due to fears of hurting others. This fear comes from the way his power was first activated: in the throes of love with his former girlfriend. Any time he begins to get down to business with someone, his body starts to heat up uncontrollably. This is a clear metaphor for sexual insecurity that many young people go through. This is why this movie works. It presents very real scenarios and dresses them up in superhero guise.
Another asset this film has it is kind of smashes the typical heteronormative teen love story by very naturally placing two of the main female characters together romantically. By contrast, this relationship is much deeper and more explored than a similar budding heterosexual relationship. This is a very direct contrast to most media where the heterosexual relationship is explored fully, and the gay relationship is normally just for shallow representation’s sake.
The acting in the movie is just perfect. Even though the actors are all above the age of 23, they clearly bring in real world experiences from their formative teenage years to pad out their characters’ personalities. That’s the making of good actors that they can make us believe they are younger than they are.
Ultimately, “New Mutants” is a feel-good movie. It’s unique use of horror blended with teen drama is refreshing and as one of the first movies out after a long period of theatres being closed, it’s a great first outing. “New Mutants” receives an A rating.