A bunch of us saw The X-Files: I Want to Believe last night because, well, we wanted to believe. I, for one, wanted to see if the dynamite chemistry between Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny still had the old magic, and in that particular case I was not disappointed. The movie would have made for one of the better stand-alone episodes of the original series. Having entered the theater with modest expectations thanks to the many bad reviews and poor box office showing, I can say that I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the storytelling and filmmaking. There were some issues, sure — Mark Snow’s iconic theme was probably the only part of the score that was not distracting — but the performances and most of the technical aspects were entirely satisfactory.
There was, however, something about this movie that surprised me in a very unpleasant way.
Now, the religious subtext in The X-Files is nothing new to fans of the show. Scully’s Christian beliefs were a major part of the show. I tended to only pay enough attention to that stuff to make sure I wasn’t missing part of the larger story arc. The theme is carried over in the new movie, which finds Dr. Scully working at a Catholic hospital. In a slight twist, it is now Scully who chafes under authority as she clashes with her hospital superiors over a patient, suffering from a rare and fatal brain disease, who reminds Scully of her long-lost son. I have no issue with this subplot, and in fact enjoyed the several great acting moments it provided for Gillian Anderson. I do, however, find myself rather grossed out by what seems to be the Catholic message the film provides.
A central character in the movie, Father Joe (played ably by Billy Connolly), is a convicted pedophile. For some reason the reveal of this fact leads to dry one-liners from Mulder. Throughout the course of the film we are forced to feel sorry for Father Joe, and eventually come to the conclusion that he has performed his penance and received absolution from God for his sins.
On the other hand we have the villains, about whom I do not want to go into too much detail lest I spoil the film. I will point out, however, that the two main villains are, for no reason that relates to the plot I can see, homosexual (married in Massachussetts, no less). Without giving too much away, I can tell you they are revealed to be perverted in the extreme. They are X-Files villains, after all.
So, what did we learn? We learned that we should forgive the child-molesting priests, and that homosexuals are filthy perverts who will stop at nothing to satisfy their obscene lust.
Oh, and it turns out that after all those years of chasing aliens and ghosts and things that go bump in the night, all Mulder and Scully really needed was a vacation. The End.