The Faculty (1998)

Robert Rodgriguez’ filmography reads like a bucket list of films he’s always wanted to do. “The Faculty” is a modern teen horror film for the “Scream” fanatics, but tailored by a man who grew up on classic science fiction and horror. The film in essence is abundantly silly, but Rodriguez adds his own flourishes such as casting his favorite actors and combining story elements from “Invaders from Mars,” “The Thing,” and “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” Most of all “The Thing.” Rodriguez includes his own version of the blood test, as well as the detached head moving on its own consciousness much to our shock. Granted, the CGI for most of these effects are nonsensical, and in today’s advances, the more upfront scenes of CGI carnage are just so blatant, but “The Faculty” has an unusual charm to it.

Forget that it loses sight of its actual premise mid-way while the film often jumps from horror to comedy to romance in minutes flat. Not to mention this is one of the many “The characters in the movie seem to also know they’re in a movie” horror films that arrived after “Scream.” I also never understood why becoming an alien meant turning the students in to stale drones without personality, while the faculty managed to become very outgoing and personable when they were aliens. Is there a separate effect for adults and teenagers? Is it a sort of drug for older people? Why did the ending need to be wrapped up in a pretty bow?

Why did character Casey’s parents yank him in their house when he attempted to sneak out and look shifty eyed as if they were going to make him one of their drones only for nothing to happen? I also never understood why an alien menace would try to invade America suburbs quietly and yet allow its queen to also walk around with other humans, potentially dying if ever discovered. What was the alien queen’s intentions for camouflaging with the humans? In “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” we only see the alien pods, we never once see a gigantic tentacled alien fighting with the heroes with machine guns.”The Faculty” has a lot of promise to be a rather clever and brilliant deconstruction of the science fiction film, but sadly Rodriguez feels like pandering to just about everyone.

He feeds his own appetite for genre pictures, but also makes sure to give teens with short attention span their own dose of cat and mouse chase scenes, and a last stand off with a giant alien. With that said, you may actually find something endearing about it if you give it a chance. For nineties kids, “The Faculty” trots out an endless barrage of twenty something nineties actors from Josh Hartnett, Clea Duvall, and Shawn Hatosy respectively, right down to hip hop star Usher, who made a strong effort of breaking in to acting in the late nineties. Most of the film involves the alien menace going for the adults in the small town of Ohio and gradually working their way down to every student in the nearest vicinity.

Almost like “Breakfast Club” as if written by John Carpenter, a small group of misfit students team up to uncover the alien menace ravaging their town. But as time runs out, they find they’re not only being outnumbered, but outmatched. “The Faculty” sports some interesting scenes to it including the violent transformation of Salma Hayek’s nurse character in to a drone, the caffeine snort test for every character, and of course, the violent confrontation with Jon Stewart in the science lab. “The Faculty” surely isn’t perfect, but it’s a solid genre offering from Robert Rodriguez. Genre confused, silly, and incredibly nonsensical, “The Faculty” more than makes up for its faults with entertaining characters, clever writing, and a slew of very entertaining homages to classic (and better) science fiction/horror films. Nineties kids need especially apply.