Friday, January 11, 2013

The Faculty (1998)

As aliens take over their high school, a group of teens form an unlikely alliance. Casey (Elijah Wood), Stokely (Clea DuVall), Stan (Shawn Hatosy), Marybeth (Laura Harris), Delilah (Jordana Brewster), and Zeke (Josh Hartnett) team up to stop the alien invasion and save the world. Zeke’s Scat, a diuretic/hallucinogenic drug is the only surefire weapon capable of killing the amphibious aliens. But the teens run into some trouble, as they struggle to find the leader (or queen) of the alien invasion, and they’re forced to fight off the crafty alien football coach, Joe Willis (Robert Patrick) and the rest of the possessed staff at school.

The cast is full of high school sterotypes. Casey is the shy and soft-spoken nerd, Stokely is the gothic outcast, and Zeke is the bad boy. And you can’t forget about Delilah, the narcissistic bitch, Stan, the popular high school quarterback, and Marybeth, the cheery and friendly “new kid.” Although, to be fair, the Stan character wanted to erase his reputation as the glorified high school quarterback during the early stages of this film. But after the final battle with the aliens, the main characters realize their mistakes in life, and they change their personalities for the better, starting a new path.

Everyone provides the perfect parody performance for their characters. I’d give the edge to Hartnett and Wood for the stand-out stars in this cast, and Robert Patrick is hilarious as the hard-ass football coach. Plus, Famke Janssen (Miss Elizabeth) is spot on, as Zeke’s insecure and nervous punching bag, and they don’t last long, but Jon Stewart and Salma Hayek have a few funny moments. My only complaint from this cast is a young Usher Raymond. He’s just terrible, and his atrocious pretty boy act is painful to watch.

Desperado was my first Robert Rodriguez film, and From Dusk Till Dawn will always be my favorite Rodriguez film, but The Faculty still holds a special place in my heart as a childhood favorite. The special effects are kind of tacky, but Rodriguez provides a handful of genuine gross-out moments. The gore isn’t too tamed, and it’s not too gruesome, it’s just right. The gross-out moments are guaranteed to pull a reaction out of you, and of course, Rodriguez takes a more extreme approach to blood and gore (i.e. Sin City, Planet Terror) in his films now a days.

The Faculty has a nice balance of humor and disgusting violence (or nauseating alien transformations), and each scene provides a good example of both:



The Faculty is a fun sci-fi/horror film, and I can’t believe it took me this long to buy it on DVD. Yes, the clich├ęd “group of unlikely allies banding together to destroy a great evil power” storyline isn’t something new, and the popular kids vs the outcasts is a recycled feud in many different forms of media. But The Faculty never strives for perfection, or the status of a groundbreaking entry in the sci-fi/horror genre. It’s a romp of stylish violence and cheesy comedy, and the cast (minus Usher) is just excellent.

Plus, I always enjoy the references to older sci-fi films ( The Thing, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, etc.), and The Faculty does a fantastic job of paying homage to the old school classics. Kevin Williamson’s (the writer for this film) screenplay has its moments as a “remember that?” wink to sci-fi/horror fans, and for me, The Faculty has an endless amount of rewatch value.

Final Rating: 8/10

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