Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Ghoul Versus X-Files: I Want To Believe (Part 1)

To find the truth, you must believe.”

In my previous review, I talked about how I was an obsessed X-Files fan back in the day. I was rabid about the show and my house was pretty much a shrine to it from books to magazines to toys, I even had the not-so-bad FMV PC game they put out. Like all love affairs, it came to a crashing halt with one party feeling betrayed by the other. Before I talked about how the fifth season of the show is where things started to go wrong, but it wasn't bad by any means. You could just see the cracks starting to form. As the years went by the cracks grew worse and worse until they gave way to the Doggett that was the eighth season. Disaster. I meant to say Disaster.

That's when I jumped ship and never looked back. I mean that too, I never saw another episode ever again. I've never even bothered to look up how one of my favourite shows of all time ended because I just quit caring completely. This also means I never saw the second X-Files movie when it came out in 2008, but judging from the box office receipts no one else did either. It's safe to say everyone was still watching this little indie film that came out the previous week that I'm POSITIVE you've never heard of, I think it was called the Dark Kite or something like that. It had a circus clown in it doing magic tricks with pencils, it was pretty freaking weird and has faded into the obscurity of time. Let's just hope this movie is Doggett-free because it's now time for A Ghoul Versus X-Files: I Want To Believe!

Our film starts in Somerset, West Virginia with a woman driving along a snow covered road to her house. As she parks her car, she hears her dog barking like crazy and discovers there's someone right outside. She gets attacked by a bald man, using a garden too to slash the hell out of him. A second man appears and she tries to run away but he catches her. Hey, that guy is Leoben from Battlestar Galactica! He sure is a fan of kidnapping women, isn't he?

All of this is cut with footage of the FBI searching the area for the woman, led by a gangly looking man with long gray hair. The agents are being led by Amanda Peet and Xzibit, and I'm already cringing. Amanda Peet is quite literally one of the worst actresses in Hollywood, and Xzibit, well... I'm already trying to suppress making endless Pimp My Ride jokes. The old man falls to the ground, declaring “it's here”. The agents start digging, finding a black bag with Baddie’s severed left arm in it. We know it's his because we see the slash marks from the gardening claw on his hand.

We go to a Catholic hospital where Dana Scully is now working apparently. I did absolutely no research before I watched this, last I knew (as of Season 7 of the show) she was still working for the FBI with her new partner Agent Debacle. Doggett. I meant to say Doggett. She is updating everyone on the status of a young boy she is treating, who is dying of a very rare disease. After the meeting, Scully is talking to the boy and his parents when she is interrupted by Xzibit, who is looking for Mulder. Scully tells him she no longer works the FBI and has no idea where Mulder is. Xzibit says “well, if you COULD contact him it might save the life of an FBI agent”.

She returns home, where we find she's living with Mulder. He is holed up in the patented Room Full of Crazy where he's cutting out articles on the paranormal to pin to the wall. To really drive this scene home, Mulder now has a Crazy Hermit Beard. I have to take points off for not having a red string connecting several of the articles or having articles circled with his notes written next to them. We learn Mulder is wanted by the FBI with absolutely no explanation WHY. Oh, it's going to be THIS kind of movie is it? What did Mulder do? If the FBI is looking for him, why wouldn't they search Scully's house? The FBI can catch the guy who hacked Scarlett Johansson's cell phone but can't catch a guy living with his most well known associate?

Scully tells him the FBI wants his help and will drop all charges if he agrees to help them solve a case. He says the FBI can cram it with walnuts as they put him on trial for bogus charges and tried to discredit his work, and I'm immediately finding this “standalone movie” harder to follow than the one that had five years of insanely complex back story to deal with. She wants him to do it, worrying about how his isolation is affecting his mind. He again refuses, Scully saying she'll tell the FBI his answer and leaves. Wouldn't her telling the FBI this tip them off that she just might be in contact with Mulder? It's kind of insinuated that the FBI is happy to have Mulder out of their hair so they aren't trying too hard to find him, but you can't tell me some young agent wouldn't try to crack this case to make a name for him or herself? Huh. That would have been a better movie than this one.

As she closes the door, Mulder sees a picture of his sister Samantha pinned to the back of it. Sighing, he tells her he'll do it but on one condition. I assume this condition is that Scully comes with him because we're never told what it is. They arrive at Washington D.C. where they wait outside an office. There's this very weird shot where they look at pictures of George W. Bush and J. Edgar Hoover while the X-Files theme plays. Suck it Bush and Hoover... I guess?

Xzibit has them enter the office, where they meet Amanda and get the low down. The woman that Leoben kidnapped is Monica Bannan, an FBI agent. A ex-Catholic priest and convicted pedophile (original!) named Father Joe called them and said he had a vision of her, leading them to the severed arm. They go to Richmond, Virginia where Joe lives in a “dorm” for habitual sex offenders where they police themselves. What?! Who the hell would allow that? The law in this movie is less competent than the police in Max Payne.  Mulder does get a good joke in though probably his only one in the entire movie, when he advises “to avoid the activities room”.

They meet with Joe, who Scully treats with outright hostility as he molested 37 boys. DAMN! Oh, and just to be sure his character is a walking exaggerated stereotype he has an Irish accent too. Scully thinks he's a fraud on top of being a monster, so leaves. Mulder asks Joe to show them how his visions work. The FBI and Mulder take Joe to the crime scene, pulling into the wrong driveway on purpose. Joe senses this is the wrong house, walking to the right one. He has a vision of her abduction, ending with him crying tears of blood. I want to point out how wretched the acting from Joe and Amanda is in this scene, it's WORSE than soap opera bad.

Back at the hospital, Scully learns her patient is being moved to a different hospital because the higher ups thinks his case is hopeless. She goes to her office and starts crying- really? Scully? One of the toughest and strongest women in television history is reduced to tears? Are we sure Chris Carter wrote this? This movie's making me mad. What else is going on? Leoben kidnaps a young woman he was stalking at a swimming pool. Boring, let's change the channel. We join Mulder and Scully in bed- oh, I guess they're a couple now? It wasn't that clear earlier in Mulder's Room Full of Crazy. Scully can't sleep because she's upset about the little boy, whose name is Christian. No way that name's going to be used in a clumsy religious allegory later on. Or right now, as Scully says she's mad at God for making Christian suffer. Oof. This is going to be a looooooooong movie. Mulder thinks Scully is so attached to Christian because their son left them with an emptiness that can't be filled.

WHAT?!? Mulder and Scully had a kid? Scully was revealed to be infertile as a result of experimentation the Syndicate did on her, so was this an adopted kid? Or did some more medical mumbo jumbo happen to her so she could become pregnant again? What happened to the kid? How did they think non-fans wouldn't be curious about this stuff? But instead we focus on Scully telling Mulder she reviewed the medical report on the arm, learning it had traces of animal tranquilizers in it. PleasebeDexter, pleasebeDexter...

You'd think she would have told him this earlier, seems it might have been important with time ticking on the missing woman. Mulder mentions Joe heard barking dogs in his vision, wondering if its the same kind of tranq you'd give to a dog. They get a call that Joe had another vision, arriving at a barn a few hours later. As they arrive Amanda shows concern for a cut Mulder incurred while shaving his epic beard off. It's made pretty obvious from the dialogue Amanda is infatuated with Mulder, alas the acting doesn't pull that off like it was meant to. This is still probably my favourite part of the movie because of the look Scully throws Amanda when she touches Mulder's face.

This was always one of the best parts of the show, how not-so-subtlety jealous Scully would get whenever a woman would show interest in Mulder. Joe's vision shows him they'll find a body, just not that of the missing agent. As the agents search the area, Mulder and Scully get in a fight over his believing Joe. He acts like a total asshole towards her, and this is so out of character I'm fighting the urge to hit fast forward on the remote.

Digging in the area, they agents hit ice and Xzibit calls off the search. The entire movie he's been portrayed as not believing in any of this vision crap and his patience is fast running out. But once again, the acting isn't strong enough to convey this. He's LIGHT YEARS ahead of Amanda though. Earlier Joe made a reference to “looking though dirty glass” from his vision, which Mulder realizes is the ice. Examining the ice closer, he sees a woman's frozen head inside. Far up above, Leoben watches them dig. Xzibit calls for an extraction of the ice as Mulder walks by Scully without saying a word, because he'd SO do that. Joe tells Scully to “not give up”.

Leoben drives to a fenced off building, which has a dog kennel inside it where the woman he kidnapped is locked up inside one of the pens. She can see there's a lab inside with Russians doing science-y things. We also catch a glimpse of Baldie lying on a table. At the hospital Scully argues with her boss over Christian's relocation, as she wants to try a highly unconventional stem cell therapy treatment. These hospital scenes all feel like padding, but only because they're padding.

At the FBI building in Quantico, Virginia agents work on the ice block they removed from the wilderness. Mulder leaves Scully a message that they've found 11 limbs in the ice so far, and that some are years old. They're from men and women, but do share one common trait: all have the animal tranq in them. Come on Dexter, it's not too late to make this movie awesome...  Some time later we see the FBI searching over the car of the woman Leoben kidnapped, one Cheryl Cunningham. Mulder finds her medic alert bracelet sitting in plain sight that apparently no one else saw, probably because they're all idiots. They're able to retrace her steps to the swimming pool she visited for a completely pointless scene that I think was supposed to be funny but, um, I didn't laugh.

Scully performs the first in a series of procedures on Christian. Afterward she meets with Mulder, who tells her about Cheryl and the fact she swam at the same place as the missing FBI agent did. I can't even remember what her name was since the movie has moved her to the back burner. Scully thinks it could be a black market organ scheme, Mulder wanting her help with it. She refuses, which leads to another argument and I guess break up. They're talking in such flower language with ridiculous metaphors it's hard to tell. I wonder if Carter wrote this on purpose to stick it to fans who wanted Mulder and Scully together, to show how bad it'd be?

At a different hospital, we see Leoben works as an organ delivery man and that's the least dirty way I could find to phrase that. Bow-chicka-WOW-WOWWW! The police stop him and question him in regards to the organ smuggling theory, which goes nowhere. Scully goes to see Joe, asking what he meant when he told her not to give up. He replies he has no idea, and THEY have a fight. This movie is pretty much people yelling at each other and using the fanciest multi-syllable words they can think of to do it. Joe quotes Proverbs 25:2 at her (“It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but the honour of kings is to search out a matter”), which absolutely will NOT be important later on. Luckily for people who hate really bad acting, Joe suddenly has a seizure to put this scene out of our misery.

Mulder arrives at Joe's Pedo-dorm just in time to see him being loaded into an ambulance. Amanda shows him a picture of Leoben, who was released by the police because they didn't have any evidence to detain him. Xzibit shows him a picture of Leoben's husband, who is the bald man we saw at the beginning of the movie as well as being one of the boys Joe molested.

Click here for Part 1!