The X-Files: I Want to Believe (2008) – Chris Carter

The last episode of season 9, and the presumed end of the series before its relaunch in 2016 aired on 19 May, 2002,  six years later Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) are put into action again, and so am I as I investigate the cinematic entries for the Sci-Fi Chronicles book.

Series creator Chris Carter directs from a script he and Frank Spotnitz wrote. They eschew the series arc of aliens, and focus, rather muddily, on a human monster instead. All of it is underscored by Mark Snow’s distinctive music.

They are asked back into service by agents Whitney (Amanda Peet) and Drummy (Xzibit). It seems there is a missing agent, Monica Bannen (Xantha Radley), and a seemingly psychic priest, Joseph Crissman (Billy Connolly), with a dark past may be able to help them.

We catch up with both of them while the FBI is conducting its search. Scully is working at a hospital, and finds herself up against the religious men who run the hospital as she tries to save the life of a young boy. Mulder seems to be happy to remain a recluse in a remote farm house.

Carter still knows how to write these characters, and there are nods and callbacks to all that has gone before, even as Mulder debates with himself (briefly) to join the hunt, under the condition that Scully works with him.

The FBI lets all of the charges against Mulder go (re: the trial in the finale of season 9) and the two of them find themselves back in the midst of things, though, honestly, the case doesn’t feel like enough to pull either of them back in.

In fact Mulder seems to feel the same way, until the revelations of the autopsy, and he assumes a familiar appearance. Scully refuses to believe that Father Joe is a true psychic and his past crimes colour his opinion of him. But what if he’s right?

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Callum Keith Rennie makes an appearance as one of the abductors of the film, and the true intent of their actions, when revealed, is rather frightening, and falls in with things we’d expect to see on the original series.

Speaking of, the film maintains the imagery, feel and look of the series, it’s moody, dark, and filled with beautiful images, and framing.

I think the big thing that upset viewers about this film is that there is no sign of government conspiracy, betrayals, and shifting truths, things that were staples of the series, instead it strives to be a thriller with supernatural overtones, with characters we know and love. If expectations can be set aside, it’s not a bad extended episode of the series, it just wasn’t what the viewing public wanted.

As Scully works to save her patient, the things that are going on in the abduction case mirror the use of science at work. The story races to its climax until she has to come to Mulder’s aid to save the day.

Alongside Rennie there are a couple of other familiar faces; Alex Diakun (who has appeared in a number of X-files, as well as an overdue appearance by Skinner (Mitch Pileggi).

It’s a dark story, doesn’t have all the charm of the original series, but has some nice through-lines from it.

And the truth is still out there.

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