Thu
Aug 8 2013 3:00pm

Reopening The X-Files: I Want to Believe

The X-Files: I Want to Believe
A Major Motion Picture
US Release Date: July 24, 2008

It’s been six years since the series finale of The X-Files and now there’s this movie. And you’re going to see the movie, that’s inevitable. You wouldn’t say you’re looking forward to it, but you’re going to see it. You’re a fan and all. It’s just, it’s been six years. Not to mention ten years since the last movie, can you believe that? Ten years? The release date of Fight the Future is forever burned in your memory; this one you just know is coming out “sometime this summer.” You don’t see the trailer, you don’t read reviews, you don’t even buy advance tickets. You just end up seeing it, one sticky summer day, in the basement of your least favorite theater in town.

But I’m not saying that expectations are low. Expectations are not low. You might tell yourself they’re low—you might tell yourself that even as you quietly buy the very same snack you bought when you went to see Fight the Future—but you’re lying to yourself. The X-Files has a hold on you. Distant, but deep. A scar except you’d say there wasn’t any pain. And wouldn’t it be great, you think, if this movie just blew the lid off of the tin on which it says what it does? Wouldn’t it be great if you wanted, again, to believe? There’s nothing wrong with that, after all.

So here is the movie. It’s six years later. Scully and Mulder live in the middle of nowhere, together, sharing a bed. Scully works as a pediatrician at a Catholic hospital. Mulder works in a room where he cuts out newspaper clippings and acts surly. The FBI knows where they are, but the FBI has left them alone until now. Now, when an improbably-named agent named Dakota Whitney (played by Amanda Peet with such snap that you forget the character is named Dakota Whitney) flags them down and asks for Mulder’s help. All will be forgiven if he comes in on this one, she says.

The case is: there’s an agent who has disappeared in West Virginia, and a convicted-pedophile-priest who claims he is receiving visions about her whereabouts. Scully convinces Mulder that this will be good for him, to consult on the case. This is nice of Scully, except it doesn’t last. Within like thirty seconds of Mulder being On the Case, Scully gets very skittish about the whole thing, starts making a big deal about how this isn’t her life anymore and she doesn’t want the darkness in her home etc. etc. etc. Scully is also really not okay with the pedophile priest. AND she is dealing with this thing at work, where she wants to do some stem cell therapy on one of her patients but the hospital administrator priest is not into it.

Basically, Scully has a lot going on. Much more, I would argue, than Mulder. Mulder is just, sort of, happy? Happy. Returning to the FBI invigorates him. He shaves his beard, he banters with the psychic, he gets flirted with by Amanda Peet. He’s not inactive—he does plenty of running around in the snow—but the movie very quickly shapes itself around Scully, and her crises of faith. This is apparently the first time their relationship has been tested since they ran off together, the first time Scully has had to reckon with the fact that she’s been living with a man in hibernation, a man who still believes that he can’t be fully alive unless he’s mucking around with pedophile psychics and serial killers.

So it’s good, then? An intimate film about faith and darkness, a rumination on love and loyalty? Ha ha no of course dammit no, sorry. There’s still this case. This gruesome, dull, problematic case. See it turns out that the FBI agent’s kidnapping is one of many, and that there is a rogue bunch of Russian/Eastern European-types who have been doing a brisk organ trafficking business. One guy cuts up the bodies, another guy transports the organs. But! The guy who cuts up the bodies is really sick, so the guy who transports the organs has sort of reorganized the whole operation and now what they do is keep the sick guy alive by sewing his head onto new female bodies.

Oh but why would the Organ Transporter go to so much trouble to keep his Body Cutting friend alive? Because they are not just friends, they are married to each other. And furthermore, Body Cutting Guy is one of the altar boys who was abused by the psychic-pedophile-priest, back in the day. Yep! Just take that in for a second! Given the opportunity to portray two homosexual characters, The X-Files goes with a murderous (literal) axe-grinding creep and guy who was abused by a priest and now is a gender-confused Frankenstein. Take that, The Celluloid Closet!

Also Skinner shows up, but only in the last twenty minutes. And by then it is just, there are all these body parts and the women are being kept in dog kennels and yeah okay fine Scully saves Mulder and then Skinner cradles him in his arms. Then Mulder and Scully reunite, he promises to walk out of the darkness, and in a post-credits sequence you see them in a boat, in bathing suits, in bright sunlight, but. It’s too late! The hope is gone! Except for one hope—my hope, my last hope—which is that they keep rowing. And never, ever stop.


Meghan Deans is grateful to all of you for reading this series. Thanks! If you miss her, visit on Twitter or Tumblr.

15 comments
Steven Halter
1. stevenhalter
It had the form of a monster of the week episode, but the monster wasn't really compelling as far as monsters go. It seemed like they weren't quite sure what they wanted to do.
jeff hendrix
2. templarsteel
The title should've been X-files: I don't want to Believe
RobinM
3. RobinM
I have never seen this movie. After this recap I'm glad I still haven't watched it. I had a problem with the plot being about a bent priest and a murder. I didn't care, no alien invasions or intersting monster of the week. I'm glad Mulder and Scully are happy in the middle of nowhere, but did they stop the aliens or what?
Alicia Dodson
4. LynMars
I am fairly certain I saw this movie. I recall some of the early scenes of Mulder and Scully playing house and the hospital stuff...But I really don't recall much of anything about it. The plot synposis seems vaguely familiar. But man. Nothing.
Liz J
5. Ellisande
I didn't watch it in the theater so I asked for the DVD for christmas that year. They got me Fight the Future by mistake, but I didn't care enough to try to exchange it or see it later, since by then I'd already heard it was pretty disappointing.
RobinM
6. Gilbetron
This movie was agonizingly frustrating. I guess it was nice to see these characters in some kind of action again, and I appreciated the emphasis on aspects of Scully's character I always liked and wanted to see more of... but this movie is really very boring and *doesn't have anything to do with anything.* How on earth this movie could have been conceived after the promise of an imminent alien invasion... well, it's just beyond me. Chris Carter seems to have grown too weary of the alien conspiracy mythos to continue with (perhaps justifiably so), so the decision was made to just ignore it. And that was absolutely the wrong decision. Also, I would have liked to have seen Doggett and Reyes somehow incorporated into this, as they had become distinct presences on the show. The movie just ignores them also. It ignores a lot, which is its greatest sin.
Keith DeCandido
7. krad
My title for this was always The X-Files: I Want to Give a Damn (But I Really Can't).

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Kristen Templet
8. SF_Fangirl
I never saw this movie despite being a very obsessed X Phile during the early years. I quit watching the tv series the last season or two and couldn't care about this movie which was simply not terribly good. Because really if they were going to spend the money, the best place to spend it after the actors was a good script.
Jack Flynn
9. JackofMidworld
I thought I'd seen this one but, once I started reading, I realized that I hadn't. I wanted to stop reading but, much like a bile-man trapped by an escalator, I couldn't. And now I'm glad that I didn't see it, since, if I had, I probably would've gone out LOOKING for an escalator to get eaten by.

This is the reason I'm glad they didn't try to make a Millenium movie, though.
RobinM
10. AlanHK
@9: There was plenty of story left to tell for Millenium. But X-Files ran out of steam 2 or 3 years before the finale, which at least tried to wrap everything up. And failed, because the mythos was just completely ad hoc and self contradictory. So this movie was just an extended monster-of -the-week episode, and not one of the better ones.
Ian Tregillis
11. ITregillis
You might tell yourself they’re low—you might tell yourself that even
as you quietly buy the very same snack you bought when you went to see Fight the Future—but you’re lying to yourself. The X-Files has a hold on you. Distant, but deep.

This brillaintly summarizes my own feelings when I went to see this movie. Well said.

Yeah. Totally mediocre monster-of-the-week storyline. I don't mind the notion of the second feature film being a MOTW storyline rather than a mytharc story; often the gems of each season were the unexpectedly wonderful standalone episodes. But this mess... this incredibly apathetic mess...

I read somewhere that Carter & Co. were in a hurry to finish the first draft of this script before the Writers' Guild strike went into effect. I get the impression that they basically went with the unpolished unrevised first draft script. That's all just supposition, but it sort of makes the movie make more sense to me.

Thank you for taking us along on this rewatch. It's been a blast re-engaging with this show and seeing it with fresh eyes.
Jack Flynn
12. JackofMidworld
10. AlanHK - Oh, I agree, I'm just afraid. Afraid or not, if Frank Black makes an appearance, I'll be at the front of the line for the ticket.

Now that I think about it, enough time has passed that Jordan could probably pick up the job...even though I don't think I'd wish Frank's "gift" on my child, if it were up to me.
RobinM
13. QHS
The frustrating thing about this movie is that they went through all the effort to reunite the X-Files cast for a movie with plot that'd be considered a mediocre MOTW episode. Really? You resurrected the brand after six long years for this? It was the final death rattle of fan goodwill.
RobinM
14. Robinn
Whew! I am really glad that I didn't see this movie! I had a feeling it would be absolute dreck. The article and the comments pfove it! Now that I know, I will make a point of never seeing it. I did like Millenium but don't know what to think about a movie.... I don't know if Chris Carter has it in him to write a great movie. The series was far better than the lame movies are! Thanks for the warning!!
RobinM
15. missallen
Oh, I saw this movie. I wish I could have unseen it. I wanted to kick Mulder in the teeth. I wanted to shake Scully out of her addiction to Catholicism. I wanted MOAR SKINNER, the sexy one...

I also wanted a plot that made sense and an end to the tomfoolery of the last 2 seasons of the X-Files. I got none of the above. so sad.

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