Horror review: The X-Files–I Want to Believe

x-files-2-clips

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, JULY 25, 2008

There was a lot of secrecy surrounding the new X-Files movie. The story line was kept under heavy wraps, and when stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson made the promotional rounds of the TV talk-show circuit, they’d be all coy about the plot, then look embarrassed after showing a lame clip of their respective characters—former FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully—chatting while a longhaired loonie (Billy Connolly) got all psychic on their asses.

But the film’s big secret is out now: it sucks.

It kicks off with an army of FBI agents probing the ground with poles as they march across a snow-covered West Virginia field, following the exhortations of Connolly’s freaky Father Joseph (“It’s here! It’s here!”) until he leads them to a spot where a man’s mutilated arm is revealed. The fast-paced search sequence is intercut with shots of a woman driving along slippery, snow-packed roads only to get home and discover intruders who chase her down, but not before one of them takes a garden tool upside the head.

Those action-thriller aspects are soon usurped by heavy-handed, soap opera–style drama as Scully—now a deeply devoted medical doctor—is shown caring for a sweet boy who suffers from a life-threatening disease. At about this point, Anderson perfects the look of strained concern that will be her stock-in-trade throughout. It comes in handy when she tracks down the reclusive (i.e., bearded) Mulder in his hovel, amongst all his alien-abduction evidence, to ask if he’ll suspend his self-imposed exile and help find a missing agent.

As expected, he grudgingly complies. Next thing you know, the two ex-agents are back roaming the hallways at FBI offices in Washington, D.C., where the fluid camera settles on a portrait of George W. Bush just as the eerie X-Files theme is heard. That’s a portent of subtle comedy to come, but it only manifests through Mulder’s increasingly lame wisecracks.

Apart from the ever-present snow, Canadian content is provided by Callum Keith Rennie, who shows up with a suspect Russian accent as the plot about abductions and harvested body parts unfolds. But that underwhelming story line doesn’t lift the film above the realm of one of the X-Files’ more talky and uninspired TV episodes.

I want to believe this franchise is finished.

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