Dani Moonstar (Blu Hunt) loses her parents in some strange and horrific event one night. She awakens in a secret facility led by Dr Reyes (Alice Braga), where several young mutants – because yes, this is the X-Men universe – are either being helped, or held prisoner – or both? They are a danger to themselves and others, they are told, but if they prove themselves here, they can go and be X-Men with Professor Xavier. However, Dani doesn’t have powers, isn’t a mutant – or is she?
Teenage angst and rivalries, unmastered mutant abilities, all pale into insignificance as the institute soon becomes visited by the pupils’ worst nightmares…
There was a chance to do something really interesting with this movie, taking mutant powers and placing them into a full-on horror movie rather than the same old superhero action we’ve seen time and time and time again. Indeed, some of the horror imagery is done well, and could have been quite chilling – if not for the mishmash of everything else thrown on top of it, the sheer amount of stuff that isn’t explained well enough to make much sense, and the total blehness of the ending. No spoilers, don’t worry, but it didn’t do a single thing for me except perhaps induce boredom.
It’s a real shame. The cast is decent, including Anya Taylor-Joy (The Queen’s Gambit), Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones), and Charlie Heaton (Stranger Things). Alas, all three are trying to act with degrees of terrible accents, helping nothing. Nor does the script really allow for much character exploration or development, just assuming – what, we either know these characters from the comics (nope) or can read enough between the lines (hmm)?
The setting itself goes for spooky-ish, but instead just feels oddly empty. An institute with a single member of staff? How is she really controlling five powerful kids, then? Who does the cleaning and pool maintenance? It’s nothing major, but just adds the feel of lazy world building.
And then yes, that ending – all too meh on top of already not great.
Bonus marks for at least trying to do something different, swiftly removed for failing to follow through at all. But at least it’s not as bad as either take on the Dark Phoenix story.
Released: 4th September 2020
Viewed: 20th November 2020
Running time: 94 minutes
My rating: 4/10