What to watch if you liked...The X-Files

By Nathaniel Dalby - Fri 28th Sep 2018 Features

The Men in Black are out in full force in this week's What To Watch.

Gillian Anderson and David Duchovney as Agents Mulder and Scully in The X-Files.

The X-Files is one of the most popular and influential US shows ever, spawning a whole host of imitators but rarely bettered. The spooky and supernatural investigations of FBI agents Mulder and Scully kept viewers glued to screens throughout the ‘90s and the full 11 seasons are available to stream now on Amazon Prime Video.

If you’ve blown your way through the complex alien schemes and gripping monster-of-the-week episodes, here’s what to watch if you loved The X-Files and are looking for more FBI-themed TV shows and movies.

Twin Peaks

Despite this series pre-dating The X-Files by a year or two, there’s a good chance you haven't given David Lynch’s seminal, compelling and occasionally nightmarish mystery series a go yet. Twin Peaks sees FBI agent Dale Cooper investigate the murder of Prom Queen Laura Palmer in a town where nothing is as it seems.

Even if you haven’t seen any Twin Peaks, some of its defining images are still burned into pop-culture (including, predictably, in a Simpsons parody). If you’ve bee put off by Lynch’s more experimental works, Twin Peaks is a great way to ease you into the surrealism the director covets. From dreamlike imagery to entities from another dimension, Twin Peaks offers the sort of fascinating concepts viewers loved in The X-Files, with that decidedly Lynchian flavour.

Watch both the original and new series now via Sky Box Sets, but don’t forget to catch the spin-off film in-between.

Sherilyn Fenn and Kyle MacLachlan in Twin Peaks.

Wind River

For another cinematic, thrilling investigation, Wind River is seriously underrated. From Taylor Sheridan, the writer of Sicario and creator of Sons of Anarchy, Wind River takes the unique setting of an Indian Reservation and uses it to tell an effective and important mystery story.

The film follows Jeremy Renner as a wildlife tracker and hunter as he teams up with Elizabeth Olson’s FBI agent to investigate the death of a local woman in the slow-blasted Wind River Reservation. Grim, gritty and gripping, Wind River combines a great cast (who you don’t normally get to see outside Marvel films these days) and fast-paced narrative with stunning visuals and sound design. 

Elizabeth Olson and Jeremy Renner in Wind River.

Mindhunter

A series definitely in the running for Netflix’s best original content, Mindhunter is based on the book by John E. Douglas and follows two FBI profilers as they pioneer the art of getting into the heads of America’s deadliest killers. Starring Johnathan Groff (who’s taking a bit of departure from Broadway here) and Holt McCallany, Mindhunter might lack the trippy, existential themes of something like Twin Peaks, but keeps you just as gripped.

If you’ve been into the recent true-crime boom as many have, Mindhunter is a brilliant fictionalised version of how psychology changed the way we think about crime in the first place. The series has been championed by David Fincher, who steps in to direct some episodes and his visual style is very much present here. 

Mindhunter creates a thrilling balance between slow-burn detecting and fascinating subject matter to create a great reason to renew that Netflix subscription

Fargo Season Two

Whilst the FBI technically don’t feature in the second season of the vital crime anthology series Fargo, there’s enough weirdness combined with a thematically weighty mystery for it to be a perfect addition to your watchlist. 

Season two of Fargo is set in late-70s North Dakota and features Patrick Wilson and Ted Danson as state troopers investigating a string of murders in the wake of the Vietnam War. Season two features the same folksy charm viewers loved in the film and previous season but inflects it with an even darker edge, portraying a country that’s damaged by the war and learning to suppress its darkness. There are even a few unexplained events thrown in for good measure. Catch all three seasons of Fargo on Netflix now.

Ted Danson in Fargo season two.

Mississippi Burning

This 1988 crime thriller sees two FBI agents (Gene Hackman and Willem Defoe) investigate racially motivated murders in ‘60s Mississipi. Critically praised at the time but rather forgotten about now, Mississippi Burning features two powerhouse performances from Hackman and Defoe alongside shocking racial violence that is still powerful and thought-provoking today. 

Beyond the performances, Mississipi Burning also includes some striking images, such as hundreds of men in suits trawling a swamp for evidence and burning crosses on the doorsteps of the agents. The tension is palpable thanks to the presence of Hackman, who definitely earns his Best Supporting Actor nomination here. Catch it now on Netflix.

Willem Defoe and Gene Hackman in Mississippi Burning.