I was very intrigued by this when I saw the first trailer. A horror movie set in the X-Men universe? That’s hella original, comic book movies are usually action comedies, so the idea of one stepping away from that to create something truly original is exciting. Plus, it’s got Anya Taylor-Joy, who is suitably creepy and usually gives great performances, and would be perfect for this.
That was back in 2017. It’s 2020 now (in case you hadn’t noticed), and has a film that’s been delayed as long as this one ever come out and been thought of as good? Those kind of delays are usually a bad sign, especially with a release as quiet as this one, I know there’s a pandemic, but I have not seen ANY publicity for this at all lately. Maybe one day a film will break that curse, and all the delays will be worth it, but not this film.
It’s hard to pinpoint why this film is a mess, I was going to blame the reshoots, but they didn’t actually get done. The core film just isn’t that good. I don’t know if it is the case but it feels unfinished, some of the CGI is embarrassing for a film with a budget like this. The script is, well it’s kind of bad. The bit about “you have two bears inside you” I think is meant to be deep and meaningful (and lead into the big bad), but it’s SO unsubtly done (they mention the narrative of it at least 3 times in the film, two of which are voice overs) that it comes off as slightly condescending towards the audience. It might as well have a flashing light saying “This is symbolism. DO YOU GET IT?” That’s not the most frustrating thing though. Now I know for a fact everybody in this film can, and have, given great performances. I know they’re incredibly talented performers. So with that in mind I have to say this: what the hell was up with the accents in this movie? It’s like everybody thought they were still in rehearsal and they were trying to figure out who their characters were.
Some of the characters are just as inconsistent. With their personalities changing from one scene to the next in an incredibly frustrating manner. Anya Taylor-Joy’s character in particular seems like two characters in one, the writers never quite sure how to make her character work, should they make her a sweet teen who has suffered hardship? A badass warrior who cares about her fellow mutants, or a massive racist bully? In the end they can’t decide, so make her all three, depending on what the plot needs.
On the plus side, the central romance REALLY works. You can tell this because there were moments where the two characters are just sitting next to each other, and you can feel the sexual tension between them. It’s hard to explain how, but it’s definitely there. So when it does happen you’re not thinking “oh God, another romance. how trite. Yeah it’s the first openly gay one in an x-men film (to my knowledge) but still dull”. You want it to happen so you’re glad when it does.
So overall, a film that didn’t have reshoots, but probably should have. And you have no idea how frustrating it is that this is probably the last film I’ll see in cinema in 2020. Just about sums the year up. It’s just disappointing, they had a chance to do something different and exciting, instead it’s so pedestrian I want to run it over with my car.