“How do you know there’s not a conspiracy? Like maybe the X-Files is right. Where do all these movies come from anyway? How do we know Spielberg, Lucas, Sonnenfeld, Emmerich haven’t been visited by aliens? Maybe they’re aliens themselves… Maybe they’re simply preparing us for what’s to come.”
The quote above from Robert Rodriguez’s alien school horror The Faculty perfectly sums up the post-modern mood of a movie penned by the man who reinvented the slasher movie by scripting Scream, Kevin Williamson.
Packed full of Williamson’s satirical modern culture obsessed referentialism, blended with a cast of characters crafted to firstly define and subsequently cut through every cliché to be found in an American educational institute, the script far outshines the storyline which sees a small town Ohio school slowly taken over by an alien invasion.
As the faculty of teachers succumbs to the otherworldly menace it is left to a rag-tag group of students to form an unlikely resistance against the attack, fighting for their lives and their individualism before they are overcome and absorbed into the collective loosing all hope of their humanity.
With obvious elements from a million sci-fi and high school movies, The Faculty finds its main inspiration from Invasion of the Body Snatchers and John Carpenters sublime and superb The Thing, both of which are overtly referenced, the former in the kids discussions and the latter in a tense testing scene where each individual must prove they are not already part of the alien hive.
All this excellent dialogue is delivered by a top notch cast which contains a multitude of excellent actors even in minor roles and cameos. With the likes of Jon Stewart, Bebe Neuwirth, Salma Hayek, Famke Janssen and Robert Patrick making up the possessed professors each is equally excellent at playing up the creepy inhuman evil that sets off the pupils paranoia.
The teenage misfit militia are made up of Josh Hartnett, Shawn Hatosy, Jordana Brewster, Clea DuVall, Laura Harris and Elijah Wood each representing an archetypal American stereotype such as the bad boy, the football star, the cheerleader, the freak, the new girl and the nerd.
The interesting element is that all of them want to break free from their labels and show their true personalities and desires and this challenging of authority and conformity makes up the main thrust of the entire film.
The symbolism of adults as aliens attempting to slavishly impose compliance and obedience on the younger generation may not be subtle or original however the film is fun and entertaining enough to avoid falling into the realms of preachy pre-teen anti-establishment propaganda.
Hammering home the horror from the opening Rodriguez is a great director of both action and acting balancing the two at the same time the same way he did in From Dusk till Dawn this time with a much bigger effects budget to play with.
With Williamson’s cleaver, comedic and cutting script delivered by a high calibre and highly capable cast bolted together with Rodriguez eye for action and gore The Faculty is full on fun from start to finish and a great example of Sci-Fi high school horror at its finest.