“I used to think the only alien in this high school was me.”
The Scoop: 1998 R, directed by Robert Rodriguez and starring Josh Hartnett, Jordana Brewster, Clea DuVall, and Elijah Wood
Tagline: Meet the Alien Generation.
Summary Capsule: High school gets a little weirder than usual as aliens invade.
Justin’s rating: T-1000: “Have you seen this little alien?”
Justin’s review: It’s hard to make horror movies nowadays. The movement toward a new generation of buxom screamers has resulted in a handful of original plots and a bloody slew of stinkers. Today’s market demands we explain EVERYTHING, including the motives, backgrounds, and ridiculousness of horror movies in general. What happened to the good old days of having a psycho slasher appear out of the woods without cynical teenagers treating Mr. Axe Murderer like a foddy teacher?
Speaking of which, The Faculty boasts nothing new in its parisitical alien takeover (Body Snatchers) of a small town high school, beginning with the teachers themselves. Elements of the old slasher school abound, but are quickly pushed aside for an X-Files dish of healthy paranoia and an Independence Day fight against overwhelming odds. Plus, did I mention the sarcastic teenagers drawn from a pool of high school stereotypes? There’s the geek who discovers the silent invasion, the journalist, the drug pusher, the goth, the southern belle, and a reformed jock. They have nothing in common except a desire to stay alive when the one-and-a-half day invasion sweeps their small school.
I haven’t been too encouraging yet, have I? To tell the truth, aside from the novelty of seeing Robert Patrick (Terminator 2) and Jon Stewart (The Daily Show) in teaching roles, I had no aspirations of this flick above other bombs like I Know What You Did Last Summer. “Just throw the Gen X soundtrack at me,” I said, “and get past the grouchy chunks of dialogue.” And that’s what happened.
And I kept watching. There’s nothing new in The Faculty except the original presentation of old ideas. Yet it is stylistically captivating, with low-sound pans of teachers and students stalking our heroes and high-beat action scenes that are not utterly predictable. Also, there’s a joy in seeing kids who won’t give up no matter what crazy odds they face. Like having every person turned against you, even those who watch your back.
Traversing briefly into metaphor land, movies like this and Disturbing Behavior serve to outline the (pun upcoming) alienation of teenagers and their distrust of authority figures. Do we ever lose this feeling? I don’t think so.
My major quibble with The Faculty lies not with Jon Stewart’s brief role as a bad guy, but instead of the casting as Wimp Supreme Elijah Wood as yet another hero getting in the way of everyone’s knickers. I know I’m not alone in staying that he topped my list of characters I wanted to see under 200 feet of water in Deep Impact. Ah, well, you can’t get everything you want. Despite this flaw, The Faculty is an unappreciated film that deserves to be placed next to ’90s horror classics like Scream.
- At one point, the principal suggests saving money by reusing the set from “Our Town.” The joke in this is that Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” has no set, something my teacher friend Lance knows quite well.
- The interesting introduction of the main characters in one long montage
- All of the water references
- Zeke’s car is a 1970 Pontiac GTO
- Principal Drake is killed three times
- Mr. Furlong’s (Stewart) reprise during the credits
- What the “magic dust” is made of
- The video version has a music video of “Another Brick In The Wall (part two)” after the movie
- The woman who plays Mrs Olson (Piper Laurie) played the religious bible-belt Mrs White (the mom in Carrie).
Delilah: Are you hitting on me, Casey?
Casey: No, I was just saying you can be pretty cool sometimes, this not being one of them.
Stokely: I used to think the only alien in this high school was me.
Stokely: Body Snatchers is a story somebody made up, dingus. It’s located in the fiction section of the library.
Casey: Yeah, so is Schinder’s List.
Zeke: This where I get my equipment.
Marybeth: You borrow it from science labs?
Zeke: I like to think of it as stealing actually.
If you liked this movie, try these:
- Disturbing Behavior
- Body Snatchers