While Fox's X-Men movies have something of a mixed track record, the studio has shown some serious daring in recent years. Fox took a major chance by putting out R-rated comic book fare like Deadpool and Logan, and the gambit paid off. Both of those films achieved great success, with the latter just scoring an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. That risk-taking looks to continue in next year's The New Mutants, which will bring some serious horror to Fox's X-verse. While the film will not be R-rated, a PG-13 rating doesn't mean The New Mutants won't be intense, as director Josh Boone explained:
This movie is probably the hardest PG-13 ever made. I mean, we've pushed it. The horror is pretty dark, but there's also an emotional core, too. If I can scare you and make you cry: that's the goal.
The hardest PG-13 ever is a bold statement. After all, other films like The Dark Knight and Taken also somehow managed to sneak by with a PG-13 rating, and there is a strong case they should have been R-rated. But judging by the first trailer for The New Mutants, the director might be right. If the word 'mutants' wasn't used in the trailer and the title was different, you could easily think that this was just a straight-up horror film. There is an intense foreboding about it, and the trailer feels almost claustrophobic. That's part of what is so interesting about The New Mutants; it is unlike anything else we have seen from the X-verse and possibly comic book films in general.
Having an R rating, which was once to be avoided at all costs, is something of a badge of honor nowadays, especially with comic book movies and blockbuster films. It indicates to a certain segment of the audience that this film is an uncompromised vision that pulls no punches. It is not quite that simple and there can be truly brutal PG-13 movies and tame R-rated movies. The thing about horror films, which The New Mutants clearly is, is that there isn't always a need for the extra leeway. The most intense and frightening horror uses what's on screen to trigger the real terror inside your mind.
It's exciting to hear Josh Boone tell Empire that they are pushing the envelope as far as they can, and hopefully it is as terrifying as he says. But it is also encouraging to hear that this film has an emotional core as well. We want an intense and frightening film, but strong emotion and good characters are what elevate a horror film above just watching a bunch of people running around screaming. These are young mutants going through a traumatic experience as they discover their powers. That provides an opportunity for gore and the overwhelming psychological fear. Ideally The New Mutants delivers on those to give us a super dark and intense film with characters we care about.
The New Mutants was just delayed until next year, with the rumored reason being a desire to make the film scarier. If this is one of the last hurrahs of the Fox X-verse, a terrifying and intense horror film seems like a good way to go. We don't know if that will ever happen again once the Mouse House takes over. The New Mutants is directed by Josh Boone and is scheduled to hit theaters on February 22, 2019.