Yes, I have seen the seminal nineties horror/sci-fi/conspiracy thriller/cult series The X Files, but I’ll leave that for later, as we witness how creator/writer/director Chris Carter killed the thing he loved.
For now, all you need to know is that we’re in Canada and it’s very snowy. You’d be forgiven for thinking we were in Antarctica. FBI Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) is no longer Agent but Doctor in a hospital run by Catholics, in particular nasty priest. When a FBI agent goes missing and a psychic paedophilic priest (did they just pick ‘p’ words at random?) Father Joe (Billy Connelly) keeps having visions of her, the FBI asks Scully to contact her former partner Agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny), who is in exile. Ooh, that’ll be a bit awkward, won’t it, because they probably haven’t seen each other for ages. After all, it’s been six years since the show ended. Mulder’s got a beard just to show that.
Oh no, turns out that they’re actually live-in partners? In the TV series Mulder and Scully were famous for keeping their romantic tension but not acting on it, but turns out Scully’s gone all domestic. Except they seem to talk like they haven’t spoken for ages. And they have all the chemistry of a couple who know the marriage has died but carry on because it’s more convenient. We see them lying in bed together but even then it looks like they bunked up as friends.
Of course, Mulder agrees to come out of exile and Scully goes with him to chat to/scold the priest. Don’t worry though, it’s not 108 minutes of Creepy yet Nice and yet very Boring Priest. There’s some gay Russians (like a Roger Moore Bond film), organ harvesting, animal experimentation and some DIY surgery inspired by Frankenstein. Dr Scully’s annoying sickly child patient also links in, in some form of Six Degrees of Separation, where unrelenting elements of grimness merge together to form one horrible dirge.
If the messy plot doesn’t convince you that this is a badly written film, let’s take a look at some of the dialogue. Anderson gets the ‘best’ lines: “Your stubbornness is what made me fall in love with you. It’s also the reason why we can’t be together”. Wait a minute, I thought you were a live-in couple? “No. No, I can't ask you to [give up]... But I can tell you I won't be coming home tonight”. “I don’t want that darkness in my home”. Sounds like he’s treading mud into the carpet rather than chasing the paranormal. Since when did sceptical scientist Scully (I like my alliteration too) become the most annoying wifey type EVER? For a show that subverted gender stereotypes by making Mulder a sensitive dreamer who wanted to believe that the truth was out there, this is a death knoll.
So, the non-initiated will be all at sea, whereas the initiated will be thoroughly disappointed. I am sort of glad that there isn’t any more of the government conspiracy to cover up aliens, as aliens are pretty dated now and that was always the less interesting part of the show, unless you’re a die-hard fan. The film does attempt to do one of the things the show did, which is to compare the monstrous aspects of humanity (in this case paedophilia) with supernatural forces (psychic powers being a popular one). However it’s clouded over by the crude treatment of religious figures as either paedophiles or ignorant disbelievers of science.
Most viewers of the show kind of wanted Scully and Mulder to get together and in a way, this seems like the only reason for the film’s existence. Everyone watching will soon regret that desire. Whilst I can believe that after ten years of will-they-won’t-they they might take the plunge, I can’t believe they’d want to settle down as a boring middle-aged couple, or that they’d still call each other ‘Mulder’ and ‘Scully’ now they’re in a relationship. Even in the TV series, they used first names sometimes. It’s just creepy, done solely so casual viewers will know whether Mulder is the man or the woman (in Twin Peaks, Duchovny kind of both).
The problem may be that it’s just too long since we’ve had Mulder and Scully together as a partnership. Anderson and Duchovny look like they did the film solely as a reunion and excuse to work with each other again, which is perhaps why the romantic chemistry falls flat. What was subtly built up over the course of ten years cannot be translated into a 108 minute film.
In conclusion, all people should avoid this film. It’s like a very boring parody of the show, a piece of fan fiction that should have been banished to the very edges of the Internet rather than shown on the big screen.