Director: Robert Rodriguez
Written by: Kevin Williamson, Bruce Kimmel, David Wechter
Cast: Jordana Brewster, Clea DuVall, Josh Hartnett, Elijah Wood
Year / Country: 1998, USA
Running Time: 104 mins.
If aliens want to take over the world, would they come blasting Independence Day-style or sneak in the backdoor? In The Faculty they obviously choose for the second strategy. At a high school in Ohio, Casey Connor (Elijah Wood) finds a small mysterious organism on the football field that seems to love water. Simultaneously, the school’s staff is starting to act increasingly weird.
Within a day, the entire faculty is taken over by the parasites. Then they start to take over the entire school. A small group of mostly outcast students discover the conspiracy. They decide to strike back before the entire world is taken over. In theory, they should be able to stop the threat if they find and destroy the mother alien. The question is, who did the mother choose as a host? Could it be the school’s principal? Or is it the crazed football coach?
The Faculty is an enjoyable homage to the Body Snatchers-legacy. The screenplay by Kevin Willamson (Scream) contains all his trademark qualities; postmodern movie references; humor; and a surprising twist at the end. It also has camp value, supported by a killer cast including Salma Hayek, Famke Janssen and Robert Patrick.
Rodriguez is doing a fine job directing. This sort of Carpenter / Stephen King material suits him well. He gets decent performances out of his stellar cast. Mostly, he is a brilliant editor; plot, action and tension are combined in a dynamic mix that moves just fast enough to entertain throughout its duration. Robert Patrick steals the show as the possessed football coach. He effectively portrays an alien-host, using creepy and hilarious body language to perfection. The Faculty never received the appreciation of similar modern sci-fi horrors. Unjustly so. Its ‘problems’ are far outweighed by its strong points. Therefore, I must conclude that this is an underrated flick that definitely deserves to be re-evaluated.
Biography: Robert Rodriguez (1988, Texas) saw John Carpenter’s Escape From New York in 1981 and proclaimed “I am going to make movies”. Ten years later, Rodriguez made his feature debut with El Mariachi, an almost single handedly made action film that cost him only 7.000 dollars. It made Rodriguez a legend of independent, ultra-low budget filmmaking. His further career is a sign for young filmmakers that even the wildest dreams may come true if you are brave enough to follow your own path. He has directed many movies since, often collaborating with Quentin Tarantino. Besides directing, he frequently acts as cinematographer like he did on El Mariachi.
Filmography (a selection): Bedhead (1991, short) / El Mariachi (1992) / Roadracers (1994, TV) / Desperado (1995) / Four Rooms (1996, segment ‘The Misbehavors’) / From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) / The Faculty (1998) / Spy Kids (2001) / Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams (2002) / Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003) / Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003) / Sin City (2005) / The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3-D (2005) / Grindhouse (2007, segment ‘Planet Terror’) / Machete (2010) / Machete Kills (2013) / Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014) / Alita: Battle Angel (2019) / The Mandalorian (2020, TV episode)
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