For a film that soundtrack drips 90’s and was described as “Hip” when released, which was in 1998 mind you, The Faculty has aged pretty well. This might be due to the star packed cast with such names as John Harnett, Robert Patrick, Elijah Wood, Famke Janssen, Usher… there’s a lot. But just because it’s aged well doesn’t mean that it’s aged perfectly. As being made in the 90’s most certainly shows and not always in the best way. I have no particular nostalgia tied to this film, which is odd because this was when I was first really getting into horror films. I just remember that I had enjoyed it when I saw it when I was younger and simply decided to re-watch when I was presented the opportunity.
The Faculty opens with Coach Willis (Robert Patrick) ending practice and is depicted as an angry kind of fellow. After he sends the students off he stops to mess with a sprinkler when he’s approached by an unseen person. That night Principle Valerie Drake (Bebe Neuwirth) at a board meeting refuses the requests of the other teachers, from field trips to new computers and absolutely no musicals. Because all the funds are going to football team. Since the parents want the football, so that’s where the money is going to be applied. After the meeting, she forgets her keys and has to return to her office to retrieve them. When she gets there she is attacked by Coach Willis, who as a noticeable change in both tone and demeanor from when we last saw him. She manages to narrowly escape him with the aid of one the teachers, Mrs. Olsen (Piper Laurie). Who has also had a change in behavior takes this as an opportunity to stab Principle Drake to death. The next day we get introduced to the love-able scamps that make up this films main cast, Stan Rosado (Shawn Hatosy) the popular jock, his girlfriend Delilah Profitt (Jordana Brewster) the popular cheerleader, Stokely Mitchell (Clea DuVall) the goth, Casey Connor (Elijah Wood) the nerd that gets beat up, Zeke Tyler (Josh Hartnett) a genus student that spends his time manufacturing and selling drugs and finally Marybeth Louise Hutchinson (Laura Harris) the new girl from Georgia. While on the football field Casey notice a strange insect looking creature and takes it to his biology teacher Mr. Furlong (Jon Stewart). He declares it to be an unknown species and mentions bringing to his friend at the university. Later that day Delilah takes Casey into the teacher’s lounge looking for a story for the school newspaper. While inside are forced to hide in a closet when the teachers return. The pair witness two of the teachers violently attack the school nurse and regurgitate one of things found on the field into her ear. This is when they find the body of another teacher, who we learn was to old and didn’t take. The pair manage to escape, but no one believes their story. The next day the teen cast is gathered and discussing how they think aliens are invading. Mr. Furlong proves this when he attacks them and tries to infect them. But he’s seemingly killed when Zeke stabs him in the eye with a pen loaded with personal brand drug. With Mr. Furlong’s attack being the proof needed, the group gathers to fight off the growing invasion. But fear and suspicion of infection stress threaten to tear the group apart.
My most serious complaint is that it might actually have too much character development with an hour and forty minute run time. By the time the credits rolled I was more than ready to be done with this movie. So while there’s a lot of good stuff in this film at times it does feel like you’re slogging through it.
My second beef is the use of cliche and stereotypes as a crutch for every single character. Turning all of them into cookie cutter characters that for all the screen time they get. Still feel hollow. That said, the acting is great. Every perform uses said stereotypes to get every mile out of it, they can out of them. Though that said while good, no one really stands out. So I can see why with so many now famous names, The Faculty is rarely talked about.
I’m not sure if The Faculty was paying homage to Night of the Creeps, or if they were blatantly ripping it off. But the similarity’s between the films is noticeable to say the least. The other film The Faculty pulls heavily from being invasion of the body snatchers. But the film references it directly several times so homage feels applicable.
Which brings me to my final gripe, after Scream horror films felt the need to be mildly self-aware. Here it doesn’t work to its betterment, as this aspect is the only part that makes film feel insanely dated…. excluding the 90’s soundtrack and hair.
Final thoughts, overall a pretty good alien invasion. The plot is tried and true works well in the school setting. The cliche characters mean that no mater who you are you can identify with one of them and the films fun. While I would never call The Facility a comedy. I can say that it was despite the flaws I’ve mentioned, The Faculty was a fun way to spend and evening. Even if it did take it’s time doing it. Also, Robert Rodriguez directed it. 8/10