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The Faculty – 7

Director – Robert Rodriguez

Cast – Elijah Wood, Jordana Brewster, Josh Hartnett, Laura Harris, Clea Duvall, Shawn Hatosey, Salma Hayek, Famke Janssen, Piper Laurie, Robert Patrick, Christopher McDonald, Bebe Neuwirth, Usher, John Stewart, Harry Jay Knowles, Danny Masterson

Release Year – 1998

Reviewed by John of the Dead

I find it pretty hard to believe that this film came out nearly 15 years ago. I remember seeing it at the bratty age of 13 when it debuted on Christmas Day, although I had not seen the film in its entirety since then. Robert Rodriguez’s films have always appealed to me, but for some reason I never felt the same urge to view this piece as I do his other films, namely Planet Terror and From Dusk Till Dawn. Could it be the lack of guns? The lack of extreme gore? Or the fact that this takes place in a teen setting? I think it was all of the above, however none of those elements kept me from enjoying this one. “Rob Rod” brings his usual excellent camerawork and awesome execution that along with Kevin Williamson(Scream series)’s screenplay provides a run ride that brings good horror in this R-rated teeny film, making for one of the more enjoyable 90s horror flicks out there.

When high school loser-geek Casey Connor (Elijah Wood) takes notice to the ever-growing strange behavior of the school’s faculty, his investigation into the matter leads him to believe the faculty are being taken over by aliens. His cohorts Zeke, Marybeth, Stokely, Delilah, and Stan fail to believe such nonsense, but soon enough they will learn that Casey’s fears are very real.

Right from the get-go we get the required indicators that state the film will not only provide horror but will be told in a “fun” manner reminiscent of Kevin Williamson’s Scream films. High schools and horror go hand in hand, but I had yet to see such combined elements executed by Robert Rodriguez, so going into this piece I was excited and knew I would leave pleased. It does not take long before evidence of the alien invasion within the high school hits the screen, however it does take a bit of hell and embarrassment for Casey before he convinces his friends that he is right – and with the help of a science teacher portrayed by John Stewart. I enjoyed Williamson’s screenplay as it provided a constantly moving story that never slows down for more than a few moments. With a high number of main protagonists there is much going on in the film at all times, and as the invasion spreads to the student body our protagonists are forced to into several dire scenarios where one must prove that they have not been taken over by the alien force. Despite the number of protagonists we thankfully are not given any overly useless characters, although some definitely receive much less screen time than others. So how is the horror written into the film? I enjoyed it. Watching the students squirm at the odd actions of the faculty was great and we are given plenty of instances of horror to keep the viewer entertained. While most of the horror is simple at first, it eventually explodes into all-out chaos during the final act of the film where the vast number of alien hosts are seeking the town’s final survivors. The final act only gets bigger and better as the alien queen does just that, making for an awesome showdown to close out the horror.

Rob Rod solidified Williamson’s screenplay with his excellent execution of every element involved. The look and “feel” of the film was appropriate and made for much of the “fun” felt, and combined with capable actors who fit their roles well this was a very visually engaging experience. While no actor really shined high above the other, I took much joy in seeing many familiar faces like Elijah Wood, Jordana Brewster, Josh Hartnett, Salma Hayek, Famke Janssen, Piper Laurie, Robert Patrick, and (I guess…) Clea Duvall, as well as several others not known for acting, like Usher Raymond, John Stewart, Harry Knowles, and Danny Masterston (same year That 70s Show debuted). Horror aside the film is great, but throw in the well executed horror and you have a winner. The look of the alien parasites was great and I was forgiving of Rob Rod’s usage of CGI for them as the CGI looked just fine, and thankfully enough he did use live action FX when it mattered most – like the epic final sequence where we meet the queen of the alien parasites. As mentioned earlier, there is little as far as gory goodness and scares go, but good execution made this a very enjoyable piece sure to please those looking for a good time within the horror genre.

Overall, The Faculty is an enjoyable piece that makes for one of the best horror films of the 1990s. The film is constantly fun and constantly moving thanks to a positive screenplay, and Robert Rodriguez seals the deal with excellent execution throughout.

Rating: 7/10

  1. Andrés Erre Dos
    July 9, 2012 at 5:17 am

    Watched it at the movies when released, it made me have a nice time, in the end, cinema is that, entertainment, despite the fact we like deeper stories to put brains to work, as well. Great post, as usual!

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