The Faculty was released in 1998 and it shows. The vast majority of movies are products of their time; very few achieve the accolade of being considered timeless. Usually, this is because a movie is just dripping in clichés or stereotypes that are synonymous with the time period. The Faculty is a nostalgic time capsule to the 90s. Also, it just so happens to be a rather entertaining horror movie. Have you ever wished to see Elijah Wood, Jon Stewart and R&B singer Usher star in a horror film? Well, then this is definitely the one for you. Damn, the 90s were weird…..
One evening at Herrington High School in Ohio, several teachers and Principal Drake leave after discussing the school’s budget. When Drake returns to retrieve her keys, Coach Willis (Robert Patrick) becomes increasingly erratic and stabs a pencil through Drake’s hand when she attempts to leave. Drama teacher Mrs Olson emotionlessly stabs Drake with scissors as she flees the school.
The following morning, the students arrive, including Casey Connor (Elijah Wood), the dedicated but constantly harassed photographer for the school newspaper. Casey is the unappreciated assistant to spiteful Delilah Profitt, the paper’s editor-in-chief and head cheerleader. Delilah’s mistreated boyfriend Stan Rosado is contemplating quitting the football team to pursue academics. Zeke Tyler is an intelligent yet rebellious student repeating his senior year (Josh Hartnett).
Tyler sells, among other illegal items, a powdery ecstasy-like drug he manufactures and distributes. He is confronted by Miss Elizabeth Burke (Famke Janssen), who expresses concern for him over his illegal activities. Naive transfer student Marybeth Hutchinson, befriends self-styled outcast Stokely Mitchell. Delilah has spread rumours that Stokely is a lesbian though she has a crush on Stan. Marybeth develops a crush on Zeke.
Casey notices a strange creature and takes it to science teacher Mr. Furlong (Jon Stewart), who believes it is a new species of cephalopod-specific parasite. Delilah and Casey hide in the teachers’ lounge to find a story. They witness Coach Willis and Ms Olson force one of the creatures into the ear of school nurse Ms Harper (Salma Hayek). They also find the body of Mrs Brummel. Casey and Delilah flee, and Casey calls the police. Principal Drake claims nothing is wrong and Casey is seeking attention.
The next day, Casey tells Delilah, Stan and Stokely he believes the teachers are being controlled by aliens. After Zeke and Marybeth tease them about their theory, Mr. Furlong confronts them. Furlong suddenly becomes defensive and attempts to infect them. Zeke cuts off Furlong’s fingers and injects his homemade drugs into Furlong’s eye, apparently killing him. Zeke takes the five to his house, where he experiments on Casey’s specimen. He discovers it needs water to survive and can be killed by his drugs. Zeke makes everyone take his drug to prove they are uninfected humans.
Will one of them be infected? Can they save the town, the school and themselves?
Firstly, I already mentioned that The Faculty is the very definition of a 1990s horror movie. From the ways the characters talk, dress and look. To the effects and the very cast itself, it’s just so damn 90s. Still, in terms of high school dramas that are intertwined with horror it’s actually really fun. Some have accused it off ripping off other material. It is abundantly clear that this movie takes place post Scream (1996). It makes a point of referencing Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978). Also, the whole testing to see if someone is infected clearly pays homage to The Thing (1982). That’s what I would say about The Faculty. It pays homage to these movies and others as a way of creating its own identity.
The group of high school students is made up of the individual, clichéd stereotypes that you would expect. Each of them delivers decent performances but they don’t venture too far from what their character is written to be.
Also, I really enjoyed Robert Patrick in this role, he’s really eccentric here. It’s a shame that he isn’t used as much as he should have been. Furthermore, Jon Stewart plays a high school science professor! The 90s man…..
The effects in The Faculty range from good to downright horrible. This is the very early stages of CGI and it shows. In some cases it looks so bad; you have to wonder what they were even thinking. I know the technology wasn’t there yet but then why even bother? Strangely, the final beast manages to look quite impressive but it’s still lacking.
Overall, The Faculty is a fun horror movie. It’s a little predictable and holds back at times which is a shame. It has a very interesting cast, to say the least. Still, I can see why it has garnered a cult following in recent years.