Throwback Review: “The Faculty” Is Scary And Fun, High School Style

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Over time, I found that The Faculty (released in 1998) is one of those movies that you can’t take too seriously or else, you might not enjoy it as much. Being essentially a high school movie, The Faculty makes sure to collect every stereotype you might have seen in other examples of the genre, and to have some sci-fi fun with it. Directed by Robert Rodriguez and starring Jordana Brewster, Josh Hartnett, Elijah Wood, and Robert Patrick, among many others, The Faculty is a scary, sometimes twisted, and often very funny ride.

The movie takes place at Herrington High School in Ohio and focuses on a very diverse group of students consisting of Casey (Elijah Wood), an outcast and a constant victim of bullies, Delilah (Jordana Brewster), the popular girl,  Zeke (Josh Hartnett), who sells drugs he makes at home to students (among other things), Stokely (Clea DuVall), who prefers to be left alone and loves science fiction, Stan (Shawn Hatosy), the jock, and Marybeth (Laura Harris), a new student. They gradually begin to notice that something is off about their teachers. Casey also finds a strange organism on the football field that their biology teacher believes to be a new species. This creature is in fact an alien, who acts as a parasite and uses humans as hosts. Very soon, the parasites take over the town, and Casey, Delilah, Zeke, Stokely, Stan, and Marybeth try to come up with a plan, finding an unlikely solution against the aliens in Zeke’s drugs.

The way in which the main characters are introduced at the very beginning is rather original, with their names actually appearing on the screen. The pace is quick, which only benefits the story, making it more effective. And even though there are plenty of stereotypes, somehow, they don’t detract from the movie at all, rather, they bring more funny aspects to the story. I have to mention the awesome soundtrack, with songs like “The Kids Aren’t Alright”, “I’m Eighteen”, and “Another Brick in the Wall”. The special effects are pretty good, nothing too fancy, but sufficient enough for the story, and sometimes things get pretty gory.

Robert Patrick as the coach of the football team is probably the most memorable character out of all the teachers. There is always something slightly unnerving about him – and for a good reason. Famke Janssen also does a very good job, starting as a shy, almost awkward teacher in the beginning of the movie, and changing dramatically as she becomes a host to the parasites with the rest of the teachers. I found Clea DuVall’s Stokely and Josh Hartnett’s Zeke the most memorable out of the six students. And of course, it’s always interesting to see Elijah Wood in his pre-Lord of the Rings years. Overall, the cast is great, and is one of the big reasons to like this movie.

Some scenes made me jump the first time around, so if you are up for some scary fun, check The Faculty out.

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