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With the massive success of Scream and Scream 2, it seemed that the late 90’s horror market was going to be flooded with more self aware horror comedies. Desperate to capitalize on the trend, the famous Weinstein Brothers pulled a script out of hell and hired a writer to add some hip 90’s feel to the film. Hiring a director that was hot off the success of the hilarious B-Movie love letter, From Dusk Til Dawn, seemed like another surefire bet. Sadly, we all know what happens when Hollywood becomes greedy and milks something for all it’s worth.
The Faculty follows six students, Casey (Elijah Wood), Delilah (Jordanna Brewster), Stan (Shawn Hatosy), Zeke (Josh Hartnett), Marybeth (Laura Harris), and Stokely (Clea DuVall), as they deal with the rough and tumble of being teenage stereotypes in Bill Clinton’s America. After discovering a strange new life form on the school’s football field, Casey begins to notice that the teachers at his school are acting strangely.
He tells the other five and it soon becomes apparent that the life form was actually an alien parasite that has reproduced and taken over the entire faculty, as well as some of the student body. After one of their professors (Jon Stewart) attacks them, the six hatch a plan to kill the aliens with a homemade cocaine that Zeke has been cooking up in his garage. As the paranoia mounts, the audience couldn’t really give two shits.
Here is a film that tries desperately to appeal to the tail end of the Gen X’ers with “hip”, “witty” dialouge and not one, not two, but THREE references to Roland Emmerich as a great science fiction director (this film had just come out after Independence Day, which is probably his only good movie). This is like that Simpsons episode where Homer gets a job doing voice over work for the new Itchy and Scratchy character, Poochie. If you try to make something seem cool to kids, your plan will only backfire and you’ll wind up with an entire demographic that wants nothing more than to rip apart your shitty idea. The Faculty is so hilariously uncool and boring to watch that it’s a wonder that anyone involved got work after its release.
First off the cheap self aware script, a concept popularized by Scream, only irritates with its endless references and weak scares. It’s like the writers knew they were making a terrible film and had to reference films that were actually successful and good to try and make itself guilty by association. Much of the horror derives from the characters. Which in itself is faulty, because usually in horror films you’re scared for the protagonists because you empathize with them on some level. You don’t want harm to befall that person because you have grown to like them.
In The Faculty, not a single character is likeable, realistic, or relateable, so all you’re left with is a bunch of jumped up cardboard cutouts who you’re anxious to be rid of. The only characters in this movie I could tolerate were Jon Stewart’s science professor, which was only enjoyable if you’re a fan of The Daily Show and like looking back at how much of an ass he made of himself in his 90’s cinema outings (Half Baked is a particular favorite of mine), and Famke Janssen as the nerdy English teacher, and not because her performance was good or I like her character, I just have a huge crush on Famke Janssen.
Here is a film that will bore you to tears and leave you annoyed. Sure it’s good for a laugh if you’re a 90’s kid and get a kick out being nostalgic every once in a while, but I seriously can’t imagine anyone outside of that enjoying this movie on any level. Even if someone were to watch it now, they’d probably forget it within an hour.