Most of the reviews of The X-Files: I Want To Believe have decided that it is on a par with a low quality standalone episode of the series, stretched needlessly to feature length. What intrigues me about this is that film reviewers tend not to be all that TV literate, and so I wonder if they really spent that much time exhaustively watching The X-Files. This film turns out to be something a little odder than this glib assessment; it is a mixture of paranormal investigation and Before Sunset.

What we get is Mulder and Scully acting like an old married couple, bickering when an old flame re-enters their lives. They have moved on, her to successful doctoring, him to wild man in the woods giving Grizzly Adams a run for his money in the shaggy beard stakes. The old flame returns, in this case the FBI needing their help on a paranormal case, and their cosy status quo is threatened. It becomes a weird relationship drama, showing us a how these characters have grown (or not) in the intervening ten years, throwing up new conflicts, weird work related jealousies and old reminiscences.

Your sci-fi, X-Files loving fan is not going to see the film just for that, and truth be told (for it is out there), the actually plot that this is framed by isn’t that promising. There is a missing FBI agent of whom visions are seen by a psychic paedophile priest – played with worrying conviction by Billy Connelly. Psychics were ten a penny in the old X-Files, and don’t call for big special effects. This is where I think most of the reviewers walked out. Its not that the film gets that much more exciting, it is as downbeat and snowbound as much of the series was. But the story does get more whacked out later, it progressed to organ harvesting and then full on body transplantation. And hints at an interesting question (Beware, spoilers a head – literally).

Premise 1: Our bad guy is “married in Massachusetts” to his boss, a man with a rare blood type.
Premise 2: Our bad guy is procuring bodies with the same blood type so they can do a full body transplant, head on to new body.
Premise 3: The boss, the guy who wants the transplant, was buggered by Billy’s priest at a young age (this appears to be why Billy has a psychic connection with him!)

What is never mentioned, and obliquely left out there for the viewers to notice (something I haven’t seen a reviewer do yet), is that all the living bodies, abducted and procured for the transplant, are female. Is the film subtly making a point about abuse, sexuality perceived to be based on childhood experiences, homosexuality? How does the bad guy feel about swopping his boyfriends body with a girls body? Did he abduct women for his own physical preferences (he does scope them out in a swimming pool first). It comes out with none of this openly, and all the above facts are mentioned briefly or left for the viewer to observe. And yet this brief bit of subtlety reminded me of one of the few things I liked about the X-Files. Sometimes it would trust its own audience to work stuff out for itself.