April 20, 2019

The X-Files, I Want to Believe: Heads Up

Posted in movies tagged at 1:05 pm by Jenn


Summary: In Somerset, West Virginia, a woman comes home to her dog, who’s barking frantically. Meanwhile, a group of FBI agents searches a snowy area. The woman, who’s wearing a medical-alert bracelet, gets out of her car, not seeing someone pass behind it. Two of the FBI agents, Dakota Whitney and Mosley Drummy, tell the others to give some space to a man named Father Joseph Crissman, who’s out ahead of the pack, looking for something.

The woman sees footprints in the snow behind her tire treads and realizes someone’s in her house. Crissman runs out ahead of the pack as the woman grabs a garden tool to use as a weapon. She slashes at her intruder, cutting his face and hand. But there’s another man with him, and he chases her out into her yard. As he tackles her, Crissman tells the FBI agents to dig in a certain spot in the snow. They find the severed arm of the first attacker.

At Our Lady of Sorrows Hospital, Scully, now working as a doctor, does a teleconference with another physician about a young patient. The other doctor reminds her that there’s no cure for the boy’s condition. Scully tells the boy, Christian, and his family that they’ll run more tests. Drummy shows up, asking how they can get in touch with Mulder. Scully resists putting them in contact with each other, but Drummy needs help saving another agent.

Scully goes to a house in a secluded area and chastises the person living there for not having more security measures. It’s Mulder, and he’s still wanted by the FBI for escaping his death sentence, but he’s not too concerned about being captured. Also, he grew a beard, and it looks awful. Scully tells him the FBI wants his help, and has even offered to drop the charges against him if he’ll work with them.

Mulder thinks the FBI should be asking for his forgiveness, but Scully believes that’s what they’re doing. She tells him a psychic has come forward with some possible evidence. Mulder thinks the FBI is lying to draw him out. He’s not interested in helping, even if it means saving an agent. Scully points out that one of them could have been in this position of needing help.

She continues that she worries about Mulder, who’s been isolated for so long. He tells her he’s fine, with his sunflower seeds and the articles and photos on his walls and the pencils in his ceiling. Scully says she’ll turn down the case for him, but after looking at a picture of Samantha, Mulder realizes he needs to help. He just has one condition: Scully has to come along.

The two are picked up by a helicopter and flown to D.C. They meet up with Drummy and thank him for the ride, but he says he didn’t send the helicopter. They go into the FBI building and Drummy leaves them in a hallway. Mulder locks eyes with another agent for a few moments (she’s played by Vanessa Morley, who played Samantha as a child), and Scully looks at a picture of then-President George W. Bush (cue the theme music).

Drummy takes Mulder and Scully to a meeting with Whitney, who thanks Mulder for his trust. Mulder doesn’t think that’s important if the agent they’re looking for is dead. The missing agent is Monica Bannan, the woman from Somerset. Though she’s been gone a few days, Whitney thinks she’s still alive. They found the arm about ten miles from Bannan’s house, with blood matching blood found in her garage.

Crissman has tied the two scenes to each other, but Mulder doubts he’s reliable since he calls himself a psychic. He called six hours after Bannan’s disappearance to tell the FBI he had a vision and knows she’s alive. Mulder thinks the FBI should be surveilling him. Whitney reveals that Crissman is a convicted pedophile, which…really makes their dependence on him sound even worse.

Whitney and Drummy take Mulder and Scully to the dorm where Crissman lives with other convicted sex offenders. How has any angry local not firebombed that entire building? Scully immediately tears into Crissman, asking what he was just praying for. Does he think God’s listening to him and will redeem his soul? Crissman asks if she thinks God listens to her prayers, like, she’s not a child molester, dude.

Crissman says he has to believe God’s listening; otherwise Crissman wouldn’t have visions. Scully notes that they might not be coming from God. Mulder gets the discussion on track, asking what Crissman sees in the visions. Crissman sees everything that happened in the first scene, and though he doesn’t know for sure that Bannan’s alive, he feels that she is.

Mulder asks for a demonstration, but Crissman would like Scully to leave first. Scully taunts that he might be seeing things as a way of trying to distract people from who he really is. She goes outside, trying to avoid Crissman’s roommate, and gets spooked when Mulder sneaks up on her. He applauds her for challenging Crissman, just like in the old days.

Scully looks at the case file and asks how Crissman could lead agents to the arm without having a single guess about Bannan’s abductor. She thinks Bannan’s dead and Crissman is a fraud. Mulder allows that she could be right, but there’s still the possibility that Crissman really is a psychic. They’re going on a field trip so Crissman can show Mulder his skills.

Scully decides it’s time for her to bow out of the case – this isn’t her life anymore. She’s done “chasing monsters in the dark.” She also thinks Mulder’s done enough and can leave the case. He wears her down without much work, and she agrees to come along to Somerset. In the car, Mulder gives Bannan’s ID to Crissman, who says he has no idea who Bannan is.

Crissman asks how Mulder got involved in this case. Mulder tells him about the X-Files and how he wants to believe in the paranormal. “His sister was abducted by ET,” Drummy says. Crissman guesses she’s dead. He starts feeling something and realizes they’re going to the place where Bannan was attacked and abducted. But when they get to her house, he says they’re in the wrong place.

As Crissman goes inside, Whitney tells Mulder that he could have recognized the house when they pulled up because it’s been on the news. Maybe he wants to atone for his sons. While Whitney knows they need to consider him a suspect, she wants to keep an open mind. She admits that she’s not very popular with the bureau right now, since she called on Mulder for help. Mulder’s like, “Join the club.”

Whitney asks about Mulder’s past dealings with psychics; she looked at the cases and is impressed. Mulder makes sure Scully gets some of the credit. Crissman falls to his knees in the yard and tells the agents that Bannan tried to run, but the attackers were able to grab her. She’s in pain, but Crissman doesn’t know where she is. “I can’t see!” he says, distressed. Drummy thinks he’s making it all up. Then Crissman starts bleeding out of his eyes.

Scully goes back to her actual job and checks on Christian. He’s distressed by the way a priest, Father Ybarra, is looking at him. This movie doesn’t make the Catholic Church look very good, does it? Scully chastises Ybarra for looking at Christian’s chart, but he thinks part of his job is overseeing how his doctors are treating the patients. He thinks there are other facilities that are better for Christian; here, his suffering is just being prolonged. Scully goes to her office and cries a little.

A woman goes swimming in a pool, not realizing she’s being watched by Bannan’s second attacker. On her way home, she speeds up to pass a snow plow, which forces her off the road and into a hay bale. The driver is, of course, the second attacker, and this woman will be his second abductee. In the distance, dogs howl.

Since Mulder and Scully’s current relationship hasn’t been made clear yet, here’s a scene to confirm that they’re together. They’re in bed, talking about Christian and how there’s nothing Scully can do for him. She’s lying awake, cursing God for being cruel. Mulder asks if she thinks God’s losing any sleep. She guesses that he thinks she’s struggling with this patient because of William. He offers to take over the God-cursing for a while.

Scully criticizes Mulder’s scratchy beard, then tells him that the arm Crissman led the agents to had traces of drugs on it, one used by people who’ve undergone radiation, the other an animal tranquilizer called acepromazine. Now Mulder’s the one who can’t sleep. He remembers that Crissman heard barking dogs during one of his visions. Scully reminds him that Crissman is a phony, but Mulder thinks there has to be something to him crying tears of blood at a crime scene.

Drummy and Whitney call just as Mulder’s about to shave his ridiculous beard. No, Mulder, don’t stop shaving! Scully will fill you in on the call later! Anyway, Crissman is leading Whitney and Drummy to a barn, and fortunately, Mulder shaves off the whole hairy mess before he and Scully join them there. Whitney says that Crissman led them to the exact same site as before. He’s convinced they’re going to find a body, though he still insists Bannan is alive.

A search hasn’t turned up anything, and it’s been hours, so Drummy calls it off. Crissman tells Mulder that he had a vision of a face, but it’s not clear. It’s like he’s seeing it through dirty glass. Mulder asks Scully for her input, but she reminds him that this isn’t her job anymore. She regrets getting him involved in the case. She thinks he’s back on his Samantha obsession. Scully says firmly that Mulder can’t save her. He tries to ignore her, calling for the searchers to come back.

The search reconvenes, and again, Crissman picks a spot in the snow and digs. At the same time, the second attacker (okay, I’m sick of calling him that; his name is Janke) takes a bag out of his snow plow. Drummy complains that they’re trying to dig through solid ice, but Mulder thinks this is the “dirty glass” Crissman saw in his vision. Janke watches the search from a hill, leaving just before the searchers find a head under the ice. As they head off to get equipment to pull up the head, Crissman tells Scully not to give up.

Janke goes to some sort of kennel facility, where his second abductee is being kept. She’s taken to a lab where the first attacker is lying on a gurney. At Our Lady of Sorrows, Ybarra is holding a staff meeting, where he announces that they’re sending Christian to hospice. Scully’s late to the meeting, so she misses out on being the only person to object to the decision. Scully says they can treat Christian with stem cells, though it would be a tough procedure. She thinks she gets to make the decision, since she’s Christian’s doctor, but Ybarra pulls the I-talked-to-God-and-he-said-no card.

Mulder calls Scully from a lab, where he’s seen Bannan’s medical-alert bracelet in a photo. He leaves Scully a message (“Scully, it’s me”) telling her that the head in the ice doesn’t belong to Bannan. Also, it was down there with at least 11 other limbs, all removed in the same manner as the first attacker’s arm. There’s no pattern to the victims, but they had the same drugs on them as the first arm.

Mulder tells Whitney that he’s pretty sure they’re dealing with a serial killer. Whitney’s more concerned with the fact that they’re no closer to finding Bannan. Crissman has a vision of the second abductee and thinks she was taken by the same people as Bannan. Mulder asks for a car and a list of people who have disappeared over the last three days.

The second abductee’s car is found and she’s ID’d as Cheryl Cunningham. Drummy thinks she crashed her car, walked for help, got tired and cold, and passed out. Mulder disagrees and has Crissman sit in the car to see if it sparks anything for him. It’s a crime scene, and he could be accidentally destroying evidence, but okay. He doesn’t get anything, so Whitney and Drummy think they’re done with him.

Mulder finds a medial-alert bracelet like Bannan’s, which makes him think there’s a connection to her case. The agents find Cheryl’s bathing suit in her trunk, and when Whitney smells chlorine on it, the agents decide to head to the nearest pool. The guy manning the front desk is no help, so Mulder heads off into the women’s locker room.

Scully prepares Christian for his treatment, and he notes that she looks scared. She performs some sort of brain procedure, then gets a visit from Mulder. She tells him the treatment consists of a series of radical, painful procedures, which is why no one wanted to do it before.

Mulder changes the subject to his case – he learned that Bannan and Cheryl were both members at the pool, and both have AB negative blood, a rare type. Scully immediately thinks they were abducted for organ harvesting. Since she knows the world of hospitals and transplants, Mulder thinks she can be helpful again. Scully thinks Mulder’s done enough by breaking the case and can back off.

Mulder says they’re close to solving the case and can’t stop now. She says again that the FBI isn’t her life anymore. She “can’t look into the darkness” with Mulder anymore, knowing what it does to both of them. He needs to look at himself and remember how much their lives have changed. They have a home together, and Scully doesn’t want the darkness to invade it. Mulder says this is all he knows. Scully won’t tell him to give up, but she also won’t support his decision to continue with the case. In fact, she won’t go home if he’s still working it. Mulder just wishes her luck.

Christian’s parents tell Scully that they want to stop his treatment. Instead of putting their faith in medicine, they’ll be putting it in God. Christian’s mother thinks Scully would understand if she had kids. (Oh, come on, show.) Scully guesses that Ybarra changed their minds. She tells them she doesn’t want to give up, because she may have finally found a way to save Christian.

Janke observes an organ harvest at a hospital and is stopped as he’s leaving to deliver an organ somewhere. Robert Koell from the DA’s office in Richmond wants to see his paperwork and license to transport organs. He also has some questions about whether Janke has ever transported an organ in a manner that wasn’t legal. I guess he figures Janke will just come clean right there in the hospital hallway.

Scully goes to Crissman’s to find out why he told her not to give up. He claims not to know anything about her or her job. He just knows that she’s a woman of faith, though not in the same things as her “husband.” Crissman says that the men who live in his building all hate themselves for their appetites and urges. They don’t come from God, but they also don’t come from him; he castrated himself decades ago. Crissman didn’t ask for his urges or his visions.

Scully leaves but stops when Crissman quotes Proverbs 25:2: “God’s glory to conceal a thing, but the honor of kings to search out a matter.” He wants to know why she’s there and what she’s afraid of. Scully asks again why Crissman told her not to give up. He says he doesn’t know. He’s only ever wanted to serve God. Scully tells him he’s free to ask for God’s pity, but he won’t get any from her. Crissman starts seizing, and at first Scully thinks he’s faking, but she quickly tries to help him.

At the kennel, or wherever, a doctor unlocks the large crate Cheryl’s being kept in so he can give her a meal. Suddenly he runs back into the lab, where someone is seizing. Cheryl’s able to escape, but just as she makes it outside the building, an angry, lopsided dog rushes her.

Mulder, Whitney, and Drummy arrive at Crissman’s place as he’s being taken to the hospital. They agents have worked with the DA’s office and consulted with a witness who’s seen Janke at the pool, so he’s their main suspect. Mulder thinks Janke is the man from Crissman’s visions. Scully tells Mulder they’re wasting their time. As he asks her why she’s there, Drummy shows them a picture of the first attacker, Franz. He’s Janke’s employer/husband, and was one of the 37 altar boys Crissman molested.

Whitney and Drummy head off to search the guys’ offices, and Scully tells Mulder his part in the investigation is over. He disagrees and catches a ride to the offices. Whitney keeps him outside as Drummy leads a search team inside. Mulder thinks Crissman led them there. Janke arrives as the agents are searching the offices, and he’s able to leave without them seeing him, but he walks right by Mulder and Whitney.

A chase ensues, but Mulder loses Janke in an underground construction site. Whitney loses both of them, but a helpful construction worker points her in the right direction. There’s running and climbing. Drummy heads back outside, finding the organ-transplant cooler Janke left on the street. Just as he opens it to find Bannan’s head inside, Janke ambushes Whitney and shoves her off the scaffolding. So not only did Whitney not solve her case, but she got killed while failing to do her job.

Mulder and Scully meet up at the hospital, where Mulder hopes to get Crissman’s help with information about Janke and Franz. Scully breaks doctor/patient confidentiality to tell Mulder that Crissman has end-stage lung cancer. Crissman tells Mulder that he had another vision, this one of a man speaking a foreign language. He IDs the man as Janke, but he doesn’t recognize Franz. Scully accuses him of lying.

Crissman realizes that Franz was his connection to Cheryl – his visions were God’s way of getting Crissman to save her. Scully asks if Bannan is still alive, and Crissman says she is. Mulder leaves to look for Cheryl. Scully stops him and tells him she understands why he’s committed to the case. His stubbornness is why she fell in love with him. But Mulder thinks they can’t be together anymore.

Janke returns to the lab, angry about Franz’s condition. Franz is in such bad shape that he doesn’t mind that his severed arm has been replaced with Bannan’s. Maybe he likes her manicure. Mulder returns to the spot where all the body parts were found, sees blood on a toppled “no hunting” sign, and checks out the spot where Janke looked down on the search.

Mulder then heads to a nearby feed store to find out if Janke has ever bought acepromazine there. He spots a snow plow pulling into the parking lot and takes off. Janke comes in without seeing him. Dogs chase Janke’s plow as he drives off, unaware that Mulder’s also tailing him. Mulder starts to call Scully but instead becomes an object lesson on why you don’t use your phone while you’re driving. Janke has noticed him and makes him crash. He uses his plow to make Mulder’s car tumble down a snowy hill.

While doing research on stem cells, Scully comes across experiments done in Russia (Janke’s home country) to create two-headed dogs. She leaves Mulder a voicemail message saying she thinks Franz and Janke have been doing the same experiments, but on humans. She thinks Bannan is alive after all.

Mulder digs himself out of his overturned car as Mulder calls Drummy to tell him she can’t reach Mulder. Drummy tells her it’s not an FBI matter. Scully angrily asks for help, and when Drummy won’t provide it, she asks to speak to someone who’s actually useful. Back at the kennel, Cheryl has been recaptured and is about to become the mad scientists’ next victim.

Janke runs into trouble with his snow plow and strands himself. Mulder finds his abandoned plow and takes some sort of tool out of it to use as a weapon. Janke makes it back to the lab on foot, so he’s with Franz while he’s being prepared for another operation. He tells Franz, “You don’t need this one anymore.” A drugged Cheryl is placed in an ice bath, presumably so her head can be removed and replaced by Franz’s, which is currently on Bannan’s body.

Mulder reaches the kennel but can’t get through the chained gates. Then he’s attacked by the lopsided dog. Janke hears barking and goes out to investigate. He finds the dog half-dead – but also half-alive, because it has two heads, and only one head is dead.

Scully is summoned to the spot where Mulder’s car has been found, and she’s brought along a friend who was only deemed important enough to appear almost an hour and a half into the movie: Skinner. Mulder’s not in the car, so Skinner thinks he climbed out and is fine. He is, and he’s also managed to hide from Janke.

The mad scientists proceed with the head transplant, and security in that place is really lacking, because Mulder is able to walk right into the lab. He demands that the mad scientists fix up Cheryl, but they’ve come too far to stop now – they’ve already removed Franz’s head, which is still functioning even without a body. Janke arrives and starts pounding on Mulder.

Skinner and Scully drive around looking for Mulder as Skinner tries to be reassuring that Mulder hasn’t done anything crazy. Scully gives him a look like, “I don’t even need to tell you how dumb that sounds.” Janke drags a semi-conscious Mulder and a headless Bannan to a shed, where Mulder spots an axe. Scully and Skinner pass a bunch of mailboxes, and Scully sees the number 25-2 on one. She remembers that Crissman quoted Proverbs 25:2. She looks in the box and finds an invoice for medical supplies.

As Skinner starts to call someone about the address on the invoice, Scully hears dogs barking, another part of Crissman’s visions. Mulder’s able to reach the axe in the shed, but Janke has called dibs on it and takes it from him. Just as he’s about to perform his own mad-science experiment, Scully hits him over the head and knocks him out. Mulder sends Scully and Skinner into the lab to save Cheryl, who’s still alive. Once he’s detained all the mad scientists, Skinner goes to the shed to warm up Mulder.

We don’t get to see the rest of the rescue mission, and instead pick up sometime later at Mulder’s house. Scully arrives and announces that Crissman died. The FBI has named him as an accomplice and isn’t mentioning his visions. Mulder thinks he had a connection to Franz, who also had lung cancer. He thinks Crissman died at the same time Scully ended the mad-scientists’ work and saved Cheryl. Scully tells him the FBI won’t listen if he tries to tell them that.

Mulder’s upset that they’re not doing justice to Crissman’s name. Scully’s like, “You mean the child molester?” She wanted to believe him, and even acted on his visions. Mulder asks what Crissman said to her, but she doesn’t answer. He pins an article about the mad scientists to his wall, right over the crumpled “I want to believe” poster Doggett rescued from his office.

Scully finally tells Mulder that Crissman said not to give up, and she didn’t. As a result, she saved Mulder, but it’s also made her keep treating Christian. She thought God was telling her to keep up the treatment. Mulder wonders if Crissman’s prayers were answered after all. What if God forgave him because he never gave up? Scully notes that he can’t prove that.

As Scully leaves to go to the hospital, Mulder asks why Crissman would tell her not to give up. She thinks it was meant for Mulder. Mulder says that if Crissman were evil, why would he say the opposite of what the Devil would say? She needs to keep it in mind. If she has any doubts, she should call off Christian’s next surgery, and the two of them can head off somewhere. They may not be able to get away from the darkness, though – it’ll probably find them.

They kiss, and then Scully heads off to the hospital. Everyone gets ready for another one of Christian’s surgeries, and Scully sees some nuns watching from outside the room. She decides to proceed.

Thoughts: There are three recognizable stars in this movie:

Trivia I love: The dog with two heads was named Okie, so they called his fake second head Dokey.

Either Scully’s a surgeon now or Our Lady of Sorrows has some lax standards for who can perform operations.

There’s a post-credits scene of Mulder and Scully in a rowboat. She’s wearing a bikini, and he’s wearing the infamous red Speedo.

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