'The Faculty' Review: The Alien Breakfast Club
The Faculty is an interesting film; it's part teenage slasher, part monster movie. This can be attributed to the fact that the script was written by Kevin Williamson of Scream and directed by Robert Rodriguez of From Dusk Till Dawn. It's the lesser known of Robert Rodriguez's films, but I'm not sure why. It's funny, smart, and has cool physical effects; all things that Rodriguez has been known for in his recent films.
The premise is simple. Parasitic aliens have taken over the faculty at a high school in suburban Ohio, and they are bent on world domination. The only thing that stands between them and domination is what, on the surface, resembles the cast of The Breakfast Club; there's a jock, a nerd, some outcasts, and the pretty girl. They band together to fight the alien menace, trying to save their school from becoming ground zero for a full on alien invasion.
Elijah Woods and Josh Hartnett are the stand-out actors in the film, with Woods playing the nerdy photographer and Harnett playing the held-back troubled guy. I'm not the biggest fan of Elijah Woods partially due to his annoying turn as Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings but he is believable as Casey Connor. He just looks like a typical high-school nerd.
Hartnett is cast perfectly as the troubled stoner who sells "magic dust" to the other students at the school. I don't know why Hartnett has disappeared off the acting scene as of recently, but he kills it in Faculty. The two most random appearances in the film are Usher and Jon Stewart both of which have obviously transcended their minor roles in the cinema. It is quite humorous to see Stewart get a pen straight into his eye though, along with his fingers chopped off by a paper slicer.
There are a fair number of homages in the film as well, including a drug-addled version of the stand-off scene from The Thing. Williamson pays tribute to many of the sci-fi classics that have come before it, including some meta references at Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Since the plot of this film is almost a straight rip-off of Invasion, it's good to see that they directly acknowledge their predecessors.
The only issue with the film is that the physical effects have not aged well. While the final monster is impressive in both it's size and design, the other "monsters" are shown as being under the skin of the humans. It isn't much, but it does look cheesy and unrealistic. The film was made in 1998 and thankfully, CGI has come quite a ways since this movie was released.
If you're a fan of Robert Rodriguez or smart sci-fi, check out The Faculty. It's quite underrated in his catalog of films, but it is definitely worth checking out as it does something interesting with a well-established genre and some great performances.
Final Say: Watch It