First premiering at New York Comic Con about a month ago, Fox debuted its first look trailer for The X-Files’ eleventh season, and the second since its initial reprise in 2016 following some fourteen years’ absence on the small screen.
Following a somewhat clever title card where the “F” and “O” in “FOX” dissolve, we immediately hear the classic X-Files theme, meandering synth, whistling and all, and a general release date of “2018” is presented. This is a bit notable in itself as the trailer seems to rush to get to its own point (release window and theme song) before continuing.
The trailer proper, then, begins at 0:23 in as we hear the sotto voce voice of Scully (Gillian Anderson) calling out to her colleague and series partner, Mulder (David Duchovny) beneath a single, sombre string tone. The first piano notes ring out at the black screen gives way to a bird’s eye view of a highway.
“I’m here to offer you a deal… civilisation is in its final stages,” intones an unknown, off-screen voice, as we see various slow-motion shots of Mulder and Scully investigating here and there. A tilt-shift effect at 0:50 emphasizes the sense of scale and gravitas of the situation, painting the whole of humanity as though it were a mass of ants.
At 1:01, the proverbial half-way rule in trailer editing kicks in and we are privy to a breakneck montage of scenes that, presumably, offer a tantalizing preview of the season to come. Huge synths crash in and at 1:17 we hear a lyric sung that probably wouldn’t be immediately recognizable to most: Bardi Johannssohn sings “in your head,” backed by The Void, against symphonic arco strings and blaring, deep washes of synth, repeating it over and over against various dialogue amongst the cast.
At 1:39 things seem to come to a head as a synth tone escapes the sonic fray, rising higher and higher, leaving Scully in a hospital bed, speaking again to Mulder in a whisper, providing a satisfying sense of return to the way the trailer began. The trailer ends with final sequences of action shots, set against an almost contrapuntally plaintive piano, and finally a reprise of the title, studio, and release date cards.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this trailer is the way it emphatically does not hit the audioviewer over the head with its choice of cover song. It is reasonable to believe that most people could not identify the use of the song Zombie by The Cranberries (an appropriately quintessentially 90’s track for a quintessentially 90’s TV series) in this trailer, but there it is being used – arguably, very tastefully and effectively so.
– Curtis Perry