Faculty, The (1998)
Cast: Piper Laurie, Robert Patrick, Famke Janssen, Josh Hartnett
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Nutshell: Scream meets Body Snatchers meets Breakfast Club
“affable teen horror/sci-fi flick… if over reliant on big CGI set pieces” Empire
“amounts to less than Scream and From Dawn To Dusk” Total Film
“plays like an episode of Buffy after too much caffeine” Film Review
When director Robert Rodriguez (From Dusk Till Dawn, Desperado) teamed up with ’90s master of horror Kevin Williamson (Scream 1&2, I Know What You Did…., H20), audiences had good reason to drool in anticipation of The Faculty, the dynamic duo’s foray into teen horror-sci-fi territory.
The film is filled with Williamson’s trademark savvy teen characters who, though rather troubled, are smart and resourceful, unlike their ’80s counterparts who tended to be dumb, scantily clad and had never watched horror movies. These kids are sharp and very ‘with it’.
The film is a sort of combination of the ’50s horror sci-fi classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers, with its pod people, The Breakfast Club’s tormented and tortured teens as well as John Carpenter’s The Thing. Basically, the plot is every teenager’s paranoid dream, or nightmare – all the teachers at school are turning, one by one, into brain slurping, seriously dehydrated aliens who are hell-bent on ‘zombiefying’ the adult population of the town and then the entire student body. All this to the strains of “Hey, teacher! Leave those kids alone!”
The characters are perfect Williamson specimens: angst-ridden teens all bearing the bruises of their emotionally scarred childhood. As is the case with most current horror movies, the best is served straight up in the opening scene. Scream’s opening line “Do you like scary movies?” is now legendary.
Likewise, Faculty opens well, but unfortunately it fails to build on this spark. One’s sense of expectancy remains unsatisfied as the film degenerates into just another computer generated creature feature. It is sporadically funny, seldom scary, though Piper Laurie, an immortal horror legend after her bible-bashing Mrs. White from Carrie, and Robert Patrick try desperately hard to appear sinister.
The Faculty is fairly entertaining nonetheless, but loses its sense of direction about halfway, relying more and more on special effects than any real sense of tension or menace. The teen cast is appealing with a couple of performers, notably Josh Hartnett, earmarked for future stardom.