Last night an F.B.I. agent had arrived home at her West Virginian cabin when she became aware she was not alone. Her dog was barking, and she noticed someone's breath in the air around the corner of the garage, so as she advanced, she grabbed a tool from the wall and prepared for a fight... Today, the F.B.I. are looking for her, and have enlisted the help of a disgraced priest, Father Joseph Crissman (Billy Connolly), who claims to be a psychic. As they scour the surface of a frozen lake, the priest cries out and the agents find a human arm in the snow - could they need outside help with his case? A certain pair of ex-F.B.I. employees?
When a new X Files movie was announced, some eyebrows were raised as the television series it was based on had finished to what was largely indifference some years before and it was not as if there were many outside of the fanbase who were clamouring for a new instalment. Yet when it arrived, the reaction was of disappointment, as if the warm memories of the show had led viewers to expect something better than what they ended up with, the most common complaint being that this film strongly resembled a weak, feature length episode.
And they were right, it did resemble a T.V. episode, only it wasn't an X Files story, but a lot more like something out of creator Chris Carter's other series, Millennium. The main characters from the televsion series, Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson), were no longer part of the F.B.I. and were brought in as consultants in this, much like Frank Black was on the other show. There were references to the original, the odd line about Mulder's sister here or the sharpened pencils in the ceiling there, but if you had seen the previous film which was far more a connection between two seasons, you would be met with a very different beast here.
We first see Scully at the hospital she works at as a doctor, and she is struggling with a case that involves a boy dying of a rare brain disease. To distract her, the Bureau contact her and tell her they want to see Mulder as she is the only one who knows his whereabouts, something she agrees to do; it's an agent who is missing after all. Mulder, well, we're not sure what he's been up to all this time, but he is living in the middle of nowhere, collecting newspaper clippings and still with that poster bearing the film's subtitle on the wall of his office. For a man who was being hunted by the authorities the last time we saw him, he is surprisingly eager to join the investigation.
What may have let down audiences here is that the mystery seems like almost an afterthought, as what Carter and his co-writer and producer Frank Spotnitz are concerned with is the conundrum of faith. Although the series' sceptic, Scully was nevertheless a believer in God, and it is she who is most tested with that age old question, if God exists, if God is good, then why does he allow such awful things to happen in the world. Theological debate is the order of the day, so a group of Russian Frankensteins that bring this to the fore are given pretty short shrift when the plot prefers to tax the worries of Scully when confronted with Connolly's paedophile priest, the epitome of the conflict as a man who has committed unforgivable acts yet still believes he has a God-given gift to help the desperate. Alas, as with much of the X Files, none of this is really cleared up by the end, leaving you to make up your own mind. Music by Mark Snow, which does include the famous theme. Keep watching the credits for a little treat.