Review by Greg King
2 stars out of 4
A variation of the classic Invasion Of The Body Snatchers,
squarely aimed at a teen audience?
Something strange is happening at Ohio's Herrington High School.
Almost overnight, the once jaded and disillusioned teachers suddenly
develop a renewed interest in their students, as well as an
unquenchable thirst. They are possessed by a race of alien parasites
planning on conquering the earth. The obligatory group of film
literate school misfits and outcasts discover the truth and band
together to save the school.
Gun writer Kevin Williamson (who reinvigorated the slasher
genre with Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, etc) makes no
bones about liberally borrowing from The Invasion Of the Body
Snatchers or a number of other sci-fi thrillers (Village Of The
Damned, Invaders From Mars, The Hidden, and even the recent Men In
Black, etc) for his latest screenplay. Williamson is a clever writer
who certainly knows his horror movies, but the rules of the alien
invasion genre are not as clear cut as those of the slasher genre.
Consequently, The Faculty offers less opportunities to playfully
dissect the clichés for a knowing young audience. The script is
not as sharp or as fresh as his previous efforts, and the sly in-jokes
and film references are also a little harder to spot.
While the original movie also was a neat parable about the
paranoia and fear experienced by America during the McCarthy era,
Williamson's script takes the same themes and sets them in high
school, an environment with which adolescent audiences can easily
identify. He deftly mixes gory horror and humour with liberal doses
of teenage angst.
The Faculty is the biggest budget film to date for director
Robert Rodriguez (Desperado, etc). He makes the most of the
opportunity, with great special effects, solid production values, and
a strong cast. The students are played by up and coming hunky young
actors, most of whom are new to the screen.
With 14 films under his belt, Elijah Wood (from The Ice Storm,
etc) is the veteran of the young cast, while Josh Hartnett recently
appeared in Halloween H20. Jordana Brewster, Clea DuVall and Laura
Harris play the three female students with plenty of fire, spunk and
attitude to spare. Herrington's creepy staff are played mainly by
veteran actors better known for their villainous roles - T2's Robert
Patrick, Piper Laurie (from Carrie, etc), Daniel Von Bargen, and
ex-Bond femme fatale Famke Janssen (from Goldeneye). Laurie is given
little to do, while Rodriguez regular Salma Hayek makes little
impression as the school nurse, who seems to disappear without any
The Faculty moves along at a satisfyingly rapid pace, and is
certainly fun while it lasts. But as soon as you leave the comfort of
the cinema, its faulty logic unravels very quickly. For example, if
you were an alien creature that thrived on water, wouldn't you first
take over a small coastal town with a user- friendly environment
rather than some arid, inhospitable dust bowl in the middle of the
American mid- west?
Although an inferior film, The Faculty offers plenty to those
teen audiences who enjoyed Scream and its ilk.
Copyright © 2000 Greg King