I was a casual X-Files-viewing type of individual. I watched it sometimes, but not all the way until the wheels fell off. I mostly liked the funny episodes like the vampires one with Luke Wilson (written by the guy that later did HOME FRIES and Breaking Bad) or the one where the guy describes the men in black as looking like Alex Trebek and Jesse “The Body” Ventura, and then that’s who plays them in the episode. I also liked the whole ongoing story about the aliens and the black oil and shit to a point, but I mean I can only keep track of so much, fellas. I lost interest. So I kinda liked the idea of a smaller, more standalone horror movie with the X-Filesers in it, but since nobody ever claimed I WANT TO BELIEVE was any good I didn’t get around to watching it until now.
I never saw the end of the show, but it looks like Mulder and Scully both quit the FBI, and now they live together, though I don’t think anybody knows Mulder is there. Scully is a big time doctor at a Catholic hospital, Mulder is a shaggy beardo who stays in his room surrounded by news clippings and does… I don’t know. Desk work? Maybe he’s a private monster investigator, or working on a novel, or doing a video game review websight or something. Or scrapbooking maybe is what he’s into, it probly said but I missed it.
Then one day an FBI agent (Amanda Peet, SYRIANA) comes looking for Mulder’s help, and he agrees to do it only if Scully comes too. You know, couples should sometimes go out and do new things together. Or old things that they haven’t done since they left the show and Xena was on it or whatever. So that’s how ol’ Muld & Sculls ended up on The Case of the Missing FBI Agent and the Severed Arms and the Dogs and Car Accidents In the Snow and Stuff.
One important note: Peet’s partner is none other than rapper and ride pimping middleman Xzibit. He’s the Scully I guess ’cause he’s always grimacing and rolling his eyes like “oh jesus I can’t believe these fuckin white people” as they keep dealing with their only lead, an ex-priest (Billy Connolly of Head of the Class and BOONDOCK SAINTS fame) who is supposedly a psychic and may or may not be leading them to important locations related to the disappearance. Scully is arguably even more disgusted with having to listen to this guy, not just ’cause she thinks he’s full of shit, but also ’cause he is a convicted child molester. And he voluntarily lives in a halfway house. Good for him, but that means he’s got a creepy roommate around too. Scully left the FBI, that’s not her life anymore, she shouldn’t have to be a guest to two pedophiles, sitting on their pedophile couch. The things she does for Mulder.
By the way, it’s kinda funny that even though they’re a couple they still call each other by their last names. I guess it would be hard to switch after all those years. Just like if you’re on a sports team and everybody calls you by your last name only, they forget there’s anything else to call you.
It’s a very character-driven movie, and deals kinda predictably with Mulder needing a case like this for his sanity, and Scully starting to be unhappy with his obsession, thinking he’s falling for a phony, quitting the case and the relationship, getting pulled back in, all that. The part I found most interesting is actually the part about Scully working at the hospital, fighting with the Catholic bigwigs about the ethics of an experimental procedure that has a slim chance of saving a little boy, but will definitely be painful for him, and how the X-File case influences her decisions. It’s not traditional movie thrills, but that’s why it’s kinda cool. It stands out. (By the way I chose the extended version, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that was a part that was shorter in the original release.)
There’s one funny joke that places this in a specific era: Mulder and Scully go into the FBI headquarters and see the portrait of the president on the wall. Of course that president is George W. Bush, and the eerie X-Files theme plays when it appears on screen. (In retrospect though I don’t get the joke, because it seems like it’s that they hadn’t worked under Bush before, but that wouldn’t make sense since the show ended 2 years into his presidency.)
I enjoyed the movie, but I can see why it didn’t make an impression on the world. It’s kinda in between movie and TV. The best parts are small character things, not summer movie spectacle. It’s got cinematic atmosphere and production values (though still filmed in Vancouver I think), but the horror/mystery part is more like a decent story-of-the-week than a we-are-finally-bringing-these-beloved-characters-back-to-the-big-screen type of idea.
I mean I’m glad it wasn’t another thing where the whole series was building up to it. I like that it’s more intimate. But it doesn’t feel like it would be strong enough for a movie if Mulder and Scully weren’t there. (Or at least if Xzibit wasn’t there.) I would like if it seemed like a real horror movie but these characters happen to be on the case so things go differently than they would if it was just the neighborhood teens trying to convince the adults what’s going on. Imagine if Mulder and Scully had been there for Freddy, or Candyman, or I Come in Peace, or Chucky, or King Kong. They would’ve figured out what was going on faster and dealt with it differently than anyone else. Not Predator though, Predator would’ve probly skinned them and hung them from a tree.
Wait a minute, what about E.T.? Would they have ratted him out? We can only speculate.
Anyway, if this is the end of these characters I’m not gonna cry. But I think there’s potential for them to take more, better cases. Or an Xzibit spinoff called X to the Z Files.
p.s. Some of you probly don’t know that before he was a likable giggling stoner on Pimp My Ride and vehicle-provider in xXx: STATE OF THE UNION Xzibit was a pretty serious rapper, and underrated in my opinion. Check out this great CHILDREN OF MEN style video from Gregory Dark, the director of SEE NO EVIL and BETWEEN THE CHEEKS 2.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.