Silver Screams V: The X-Files – The Calusari (1995)

Silver Screams V continues with Leon Nicholson looking at The X-Files episode The Calusari starring David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson and Joel Palmer.

During the second season of The X-Files, the writing team decided to pen a story about possession. Up until this point, the series dealt with the alien abduction arc, monstrous serial killers, zombies, religious cults and devil worshippers. So how will an episode with evil spirits being cast out of individuals actually measure up?

The Calusari’s plot centres on the mysterious circumstances of the death of a young child highlighted by a red balloon moving against the wind, seemingly leading the boy away. When Mulder and Scully arrive to investigate, a series of bizarre events convinces Dana that the other brother is being subjected to a rare form of child abuse. Mulder however thinks that the dead boy’s older sibling is being possessed by an evil spirit.  As he looks to for answers he realises he may find them in a Romanian group that perform exorcisms called The Calusari. Have Mulder and Scully finally bitten off more than they can chew?

The real question actually is have the writers bitten off more than they can chew? The Calusari, whilst a solid offering into The X-Files vaults actually kinds of suffer as it comes across as an Exorcist rip-off. Essentially, a seemingly normal child becomes possessed. Enter exorcists. Cue lots of inexplicable occurrences happening when exorcists attempt to cast out the evil spirit. Conversely, credit still has to go to the team as everything that is familiar to the viewers, in terms of possession horror, has actually been given a proper X-Files treatment which is why, as an episode, The Calusari works fairly well.

David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, of course, do what is expected from them here and as standard, they produce two strong performances. It is however Joel Palmer as Charlie and Michael who steals the episode in a Linda Blair-ish type of way as an example of scary children freaking everyone out in true horror style. Michael Vejar’s does well with his direction and his style seem to be suited for the small screen and Sara Charno’s writing, whilst not perfect, all lead up to an entertaining 45 minutes.

The Calusari may not be the best or the most original episode that The X-Files has produced but it does the job. It’s entertaining, and during some scenes it’s pretty dark and scary. When compared to other episodes in the second series, The Calusari should be rated towards the higher end of the spectrum. For those who love possession horror, then check this one out.

FMV Rating ***½

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