Are alien encounters real? What’s really happening at Area 51? Do such things as ghosts, faeries, and Orgone exist? Are powerful people trying to poison the masses? Is our society under threat of a New World Order? These questions and many, many other conspiracies are tackled in Phil Leirness’ 2011 documentary The Truth is Out There. And who better to search for the answers to these questions than Dean Haglund, star of The X Files and its short-lived spin-off The Lone Gunmen.
Back when Dean was cast as computer hacker extraordinaire Richard Langly, one of the Lone Gunmen on the series The X Files, he began researching into his character and interviewing conspiracy theorists, ufologist, and other people involved in studying and investigating the unexplained. Unlike his co-stars Tom Braidwood and Bruce Harwood who, as polar opposites to the characters they portrayed believed it all to be bunk, Dean kept an open mind. And to this day, he still does.
Haglund’s approach to these conspiracy theories and fringe topics is with a mixture of innocent curiosity and playful humor. While he keeps an open mind when speaking to the many interesting and downright weird people he meets on his journey, there are moments where his expressions can’t mask his incredulity. But who can blame him? Some of the claims he hears sound as if they’ve come from another planet.
There are certainly faces you will recognize showcased in the film, including paranormal investigator Chris Fleming, National UFO Reporting Center‘s Director Peter Davenport, radio talk show host Alex Jones, and actor/writer Tucker Smallwood. They range from the sane and believable to the unabashedly absurd. But with Dean’s mixture of comedic timing and intelligence, he manages to survive them all. Prepare yourself for a real roller coaster of a time; one minute, you’re listening to sincere former-military personnel speaking frankly about UFOs, the next it’s a surgeon expounding the dangers of vaccinations.
As with many pursuits for answers to questions of the unknown, for Haglund, it is more of a journey into himself than finding the ultimate answers so many of us seek. The entire documentary is intertwined with his heartfelt discussion with psychotherapist Nicki J. Monti prodding him to look inside himself and ask himself why he not only believes what he believes but why he searches for the truth. Haglund is a complex man of many talents, from inventing to painting. His journey of self-discovery might just be more complex than navigating the wild world of conspiracies and the unexplained.
Overall, The Truth is Out There has a very rough feel to it. Part of this is due to it being filmed with handheld cameras and having some awkward cuts and angles, but the main reason is it covers so much. Haglund described the film as “an information blizzard”, and that’s certainly true. But for all its imperfections, they don’t detract from it being a fascinating documentary and journey.
The special two-disc collector’s edition (on which this review is based) showcases many behind-the-scenes moments of the journey into making the documentary as well as more discussions with some of the people Dean encounters along the way. There are philosophical thoughts from New Age people as well as glimpses into Dean’s stage improve comedy work. You could watch the complete documentary for free on UFOTV’s YouTube channel, but it’s also available on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital download at the movie’s website. More information about the movie and the Chillpak Hollywood Hour (a weekly podcast hosted by Dean and Phil) can also be found there.
If you love weird topics, weirder people, and a bit of silliness—and believe in keeping an open mind—this is the perfect documentary for you. Just be sure to make enough popcorn to last you the whole two and a half hours. And to learn more about Dean, check out Tony Hart-Wilden’s interview for Who Forted? back in 2011.