Throwback Thursday Review of “The Faculty” (1998)
Written by: Kevin Williamson
Directed by: Robert Rodriguez
Starring: Elijah Wood, Jordana Brewster, Clea DuVall, Josh Hartnett, Laura Harris, Shawn Hatosy, Salma Hayek, Famke Janssen, Piper Laurie, Bebe Neuwirth, Robert Patrick, Usher Raymond, and Jon Stewart
Run time: 104 minutes
Welcome to Herrington high! It’s home of the Hornets! It is a typical high school, complete with a good football team and every teenage stereotype you can imagine… and lately the teachers are acting really weird. Could it have something to do with the weird shrimp-like creature Casey (Wood) found on the football field? Probably. Might the goth, sci-fi obsessed loaner chick (Duvall) have a theory on how to stop it? Could be. Does the drug-dealing, fifth year senior (Hartnett) have a recipe for the ultimate weapon against whatever is taking over the faculty and student body? I’ll bet he does. Does all of this, a terrific cast, a clever script, and a story that borrows heavily from “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, “The Thing”, and basically every movie John Hughes ever made make a good movie? You bet your ass it does!
In the late 90s, horror film makers had started to make movies that were more and more unlike the slasher flicks of the 80s. Thanks in part to Wes Craven’s “Scream” (written by The Faculty writer Kevin Williamson), and other movies like it, horror films were moving towards a more clever formula by not only poking fun at their predecessors but by blending in other genres like comedy, sci-fi, and even romantic comedy.
One of the best movies to come out of that trend’s three or four year window was Robert Rodriguez’s “The Faculty”. Rodriguez was fresh off of making “From Dusk Till Dawn”, and took a lot of the same formula that worked for that project into his new film. Yes… the main story is almost a note for note ripoff of “Body Snatchers”, but Rodriguez and Williamson admit that by referencing it multiple times throughout the movie.
What really makes “The Faculty” such an enjoyable movie, is the blending of that main story with an almost “Breakfast Club” group of high school kids. Seriously… there’s the loaner, the jock (Hatosy), the cheerleader (Brewster) they are all accounted for. You even have the intimidating, common enemy authority figure in Robert Patrick’s f-bomb dropping football coach. Oh… and there’s the soundtrack! I mean what a masterpiece! There’s Soul Asylum, Stabbing Westward, Creed, Garbage (the band, not the whole soundtrack) it’s like a who’s who of 90s, soon to be hated on by virtually everyone, hit song machines!!!
There are plenty of fun moments in “The Faculty”. It is not all that gory, or even scary, but it is fun. The same could be said for most of the best horror films of that era and, while I admittedly love gory/scary horror, I also enjoy the hell out of horror that is just plain old entertaining. Plus it’s really fun to see Elijah Wood, Josh Hartnett, Famke Jansenn, and pre Tonight Show John Stewart all in the same movie, before they all became super famous! This movie is 100% enjoyable. This wasn’t the only of it’s kind (The aforementioned “Scream”, “Disturbing Behavior”, ect.) but it might just be the best of it’s kind.