The Faculty September 9, 2016
“You think aliens have infested our school?” the football star of The Faculty groans after hearing his classmates’ fantastical claims for the first time. “Give me a fucking break.”
It’d be easy to side with his protests if we weren’t so certain that we were in the midst of the teen movie version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Over the course of a couple of days, the staff of this Ohio-based high school has gone from obviously miserable (“I’m saving my sick days for when I feel better,” a flu-ridden nurse wheezes at one point) to strangely emotionless. Frumpy teachers have suddenly become sexy and direct. And, most bizarrely, the faculty appears to be insatiably thirsty — the staff room has essentially turned into a Britta storage room, with all instructors carrying around Big Gulp sized water bottles throughout the day. The discovery of a peculiar parasite on the grounds arouses uncertainty, too.
Clearly, something is amiss. And after Casey (Elijah Wood), the artistic wimp kids love to pick on, and Delilah (Jordana Brewster), the high’s acid tongued Torchy Blane, witness something too The X-Files to be properly explained, suspicions are solidified. Since an alien invasion usually spells out world domination in a B-horror flick such as this one, matters are to be left in the hands of a feisty sextet prepared to use their years of built-up educational frustration as an unbeatable weapon.
Because The Faculty is such a knockabout of flavorful homage, looking mostly in the directions of Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, The Terminator, and The Thing, it’s a relief that it takes advantage of a sly sense of humor and a resoundingly kooky atmosphere. Directed by Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, Machete) with amusing B-movie éclat and written by Kevin Williamson (Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer) with fun camp spiced up with a plentiful amount of sharp one-liners, the film is an effectively outrageous dive into old-fashioned sci-fi made modern. Though its soundtrack is too nü-metal to remain fresh and though its longer-than-necessary running time gives it extra flab that leaves it more good than great, The Faculty is pulp at its weirdest and most enjoyable.
With a spirited young cast that ultimately makes the material seem a hell of a lot more urgent than it actually is (I especially liked Clea DuVall’s rendition of ever scowling outcast Stokes and Brewster’s big-headed quasi bully), The Faculty is a diverting cheap thrill to be watched alongside such likable modern schlockfests a la Deep Blue Sea and Eight Legged Freaks. Memorable it ain’t, but agreeable it is. And when it comes to grime of its type, it’s a one-night fling I’m after, not love. B