**Updated Review- Original Review in 2017**
Starring Josh Hartnett, Jordanna Brewster, Clea Duvall
Scott’s Review #1,227
Reviewed February 5, 2022
The Faculty (1998) was released during the late 1990s horror film renaissance. Wisely, it cast film veterans that improved its merit along with young rising stars bankable at the box office. The film was only a moderate success but has become a cult classic over the years.
With a teacher/student dynamic incorporating all the standard cliches that go along with that, it mixes classic horror with a direct ode to Invasion of the Body Snatchers and is enjoyable, though hardly worthy of regular viewings.
Instead, it can be part of a 1990s nostalgia night or taken out as an opening act for comparison film Scream (1996), a similar vehicle also released by Dimension Films. The sunny yet somber high school setting is nearly identical in both films.
The Faculty is a sheer delight for teenage audiences or even twenty-somethings who can relate to the idea of their teachers being otherworldly or some such alien beings.
Stars Josh Hartnett, who had just jumped into the horror circle by being in Halloween H2O: 20 Years Later (1998), along with attractive and similar-aged Jordanna Brewster and Elijah Wood, lead the pack.
Piper Laurie, Robert Patrick, and Bebe Neuwirth appear in supporting roles as part of the faculty.
The setting is midwestern Ohio, where the students at Harrington High find Principal Drake (Neuwirth) and her gang of teachers a bit odd. Wacky under the best of circumstances, suddenly they become controlled by a parasite and attempt to infect the students one by one.
Cheerleader Delilah (Jordana Brewster), football player Stan (Shawn Hatosy), drug dealer Zeke (Hartnett), and new girl Marybeth (Laura Harris) team up with some of their other classmates to fight back against the invaders.
But is one of the students actually the ringleader and controlling the faculty?
The horror standardized offing one by one is intelligently mixed up in The Faculty. Rather than a maniac brandishing a hatchet and chopping the students to bits, they are instead infected by more subtle means. The fun is finding out who will become an alien next and enjoying the weird behavior of the staff.
And who hasn’t imagined one of their teachers writhing around on a sports car coquettishly toying with the hunky high school football players?
Yes, there are some plot holes to contend with and some stale attempts at pairing the teens off romantically. Predictably, the standard jock, cheerleader, nerd, outcast stereotypes abound as well as perceptions of what a school nurse, math teacher, and drama teacher look and sound like.
For good measure, one of the faculty (Salma Hayek) is ‘hot’.
There is much fun in the film and perhaps some truth and that’s what director Robert Rodriguez showcases throughout. He doesn’t take himself or his characters too seriously as inside high school jokes and role interplay make for a playful, light experience.
Rodriguez is the best friend and frequent collaborator of filmmaker Quentin Tarantino but The Faculty holds no Tarantino influence whatsoever.
My favorite line may be when Casey says to snooty Delilah Profitt, “You’re actually pretty cool when you’re not being a bitch”.
The film isn’t really about students versus teachers or the faculty getting their comeuppance. The target audience is the teen crowd and they will have a marvelous time experiencing The Faculty. Times may change but the same teenage angst is shared from generation to generation.
The film is a good outlet for that.
Any fan of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, either the 1950s version or the 1970s remake will notice some familiar territory. The pods become fish and the explanation of taking over planet Earth because another planet is dying is intentionally (hopefully!) silly with a science-fiction edge.
The film ends happily ever after which is satisfying for the level of seriousness one must take while watching.
Borrowing heavily from other horror films near and dear, The Faculty (1998) carves out enough originality in the science fiction area to warrant some props. It’s not a measured success but evenly distributes the pacing and the entertainment in a nice way.
And the big stars add a nice touch.