Why has Fox Mulder turned into beardy Good Will Hunting-era Robin Williams? Why is Dana Scully still refusing to accept the existence of ‘weird shit’ after a decade of staring it in the face? What made Scots comedian Billy Connolly think taking on a role as a paedophile priest was a good idea? Why is this movie even here, seven years after the TV show finished? The truth is out there. But it’s not in the film.
Directed by show creator Chris Carter, this is a morbid, jumbled mess of a thriller. Billed as a standalone piece in the style of the early X-Files episodes, in fact it’s more concerned with the almost unbearably tedious tug-of-war relationship between Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson), who are still seeing each other at the start of the film, even though you might not realise it until Carter cuts to them in bed together 40 minutes or so in.
Plot-wise, convicted paedo-preacher Father Joe sees ‘visions’ which locate grisly evidence in a missing person case. The Feds bring our bickering duo in to deduce whether the disgraced clergyman really is getting messages from above, or whether his knowledge comes from him being involved in the crime. As things progress, we discover that this no ordinary abduction case. Actually, Scully discovers it, using Google.
As set-ups go, this would make an average TV episode at best, and stretched out over a feature, it lacks suspense, it lacks spectacle and aside from a couple of early Mulder wisecracks and an incongruous George W Bush gag, it’s thoroughly depressing. Duchovny and Anderson look tired, their arguing grating, while the twist itself is diabolically lame. By the end we’ve learnt virtually nothing, except that Mulder and Scully still call each other by their surnames even though they’ve been shagging for years. Did I want to believe? Actually, an hour in, I wanted to leave…