It’s been a very, very long time since I went to school. Wow, I now realise that putting it like that it means I must really be getting old. While I don’t have the fondest memories of my times as a highschool student, there were also things that I did enjoy. Or to put it somewhat more accurately, some people that at least managed to alleviate some of the pains I went through during those times. I’m talking about a couple of my teachers. I remember for instance my Dutch teacher who was able to turn even the most boring classes into a true riot. He had the craziest sense of humor, and even at times downright said he didn’t feel like teaching today, and so we should do something for ourselves. Then there was my history teacher that could tell stories from ages past as though you were actually reliving them yourself. But of course there were also some teachers that made life pretty uncomfortable. The German teacher who sounded like a witch spawned from hell itself, and managed to make you feel as if you were a bug in a specimen jar springs to mind. But as bad as she could at times be, she was a saint when I compare her to the teachers in this horrorfilm.
The Herrington Highschool in Ohio at first glance seems to be your typical normal every day school. There are a few budgetary problems, that leave a number of teachers very disgruntled, although the school’s football coach isn’t one of those. You see, the town where the school is located thrives on football, which is why most of the school’s funds get allocated to that. One evening after a budget meeting, the principal miss Drake, gets confronted by a very erratically behaving coach Willis. How erratic you ask? Well at one point he jabs a pencil straight through miss Drake’s hand. To say he is not quite himself, is an understatement. The next day the students arrive for another day of highschool fun. Well, for some at least it’s more fun than others. Casey Connor is the dedicated but constantly harassed school photographer. His life is pretty miserable and no one ever really takes him serious. Things are about to change though when at the football field he discovers a peculiar looking bug like creature. When he brings it back to the science lab, all signs point out that it might be a new lifeform. The initial excitement for this soon changes, when more and more teachers are beginning to act incredibly strange. It soon becomes clear that an alien lifeform is beginning to take over the school and the town. Casey and a few other students are all that stand in their way. But they are outnumbered, and also don’t really know who they can trust…..
The Faculty is one of those typical highschool horror movies that came out after the succes of movies such as Scream and I know what you did last summer. It’s something that usually occurs in Hollywood, when there is money to be made, every studio stands in the frontline to bring out their own versions or rip offs. That doesn’t always have to be a bad thing though, and in the case of The Faculty it certainly isn’t. For one thing it has a really good cast. Robert Patrick, who most people should know from playing the iconic T-1000 in Terminator 2 is clearly having fun in this film in his role of the school’s football coach. He’s grinning from ear to ear in pretty much every scene, and his character certainly is a lot of fun. Diabolically evil, while also embodying the typical stereotype coach traits, he certainly is a memorable villain. Speaking of stereotypes this movie is full of them. You have your schoolnerd turned hero in the form of Casey who is played by a very young Elijah Wood. He really is a character I could relate to a lot, as well I certainly was him in my own highschool days. The constant bullying he undertakes while still trying to hold his own, and try to be brave and smarter than everyone, is something that Wood pulls off very well.
Then there is the socially shunned by everyone girl Stokely Mitchell played by Clea DuVall. Another actress you saw a lot back in the 90’s she played a cool character. Stokely reads a lot of science fiction and this became quite the advantage against the alien menace that threatens the school. Josh Hartnett plays the school’s dealer in well pretty much everything from drugs to condoms, Zeke. He’s a bit of the macho type that still has the heart of gold. Of course there are also the cheerleader and football jock, because really why not go there? If I’m sounding a little bit sarcastic, it’s definitely not intended. I’m just making it clear that this movie doesn’t go out of it’s way to avoid the usual tropes that these films contain. Let me not forget to mention that a young Salma Hayek and Famke Jansen are also in this movie, and although their parts are relatively small, Jansen’s role especially is a real riot. At first she’s this this really shy teacher that doesn’t even know how to handle herself in class, or stand up to the more outspoken students such as Zeke. But once she’s taken over, her whole personality changes and she becomes this feisty, I don’t take crap from anyone, woman.
This movie is pretty much ripped off from Invasion of the Body Snatchers , and well it doesn’t even try to hide that fact, as several mentions of that classic are in here. It’s a good rip-off though, as this movie moves at a brisk pace, contains some well made special effects, and has a couple of really memorable scenes. It also helps that all of the actors in the film put on their A-game, and are for the most part any way, very charismatic and easy to grow a liking to. This being a blend of horror and science fiction, one would expect quite a lot of gore and blood, but honestly that’s not really the case in this film. For the most part, this movie goes more into thriller mode than truly horrifying mode, although there of course are a couple of the latter scenes included in this one. The mystery part also adds to the excitement of the film, as you are constantly trying to guess who is taken over, and who is still human. While this movie certainly won’t win any points on originality, it’s still a really fun and fast paced 90’s horrorflick that’s not dated in any way. Overall this is a perfect way to spend your time during the spooky season. So I guess school is out now for summer huh?
I give The Faculty a 8 out of 10 score.