(US); 1998; Rated R; 104 Minutes
Jordana Brewster: Delilah Proffit
Usher Raymond: Gabe
Clea DuVall: Stokely
Laura Harris: Marybeth
Piper Laurie: Mrs. Olson
Jon Stewart: Mr. Furlong
Elijah Wood: Casey Connor
Produced by Elizabeth Avellan, Robert Rodriguez,
Bill Scott, Bob Weinsten and Harvey Weinstein; Directed
by Robert Rodriguez; Screenwritten by Kevin Williamson
by DAVID KEYES
have had it.
have truly, truly had it.
am so sick of teenage horror flicks that I'm sorry to call
myself one. Why are we always the subject of these pictures?
Why are we teens always planted into horror movies as the
cause or motive for murders or supernatural elements? Ever
since the recent outbreak of the "Scream" pictures, we teenagers
have had to put up with an endless series of films where
we are either murdered, murderers, tricked, sabotaged, neglected,
tormented, brainwashed, or even subjected to twenty-year-old
killers who just won't die. Those subjects, and more, have
popped up in a fairly large amount of recent horror films
which include, "I Know What You Did Last Summer," "Urban
Legend," "Halloween: H20" and even "Disturbing Behavior."
They show up every four or five months, if not more often.
guess this observation plays as a prelude, or a hint of
the nightmares to come. Enter the new film "The Faculty,"
which is essentially an overwrought, unentertaining, uncreative
and unworthy movie. It looks like it was written by someone
in a boiler factory, and then he/she decided to trash the
script. Along comes someone new, and the rescue the script
that they see being torched before them. Only segments of
it are narrowly saved, and then they took the remainder
of the story, sold it to a director, and then he made a
film about it.
is the kind movie every mother should warn her child about:
it's the horror picture that scares you not with supernatural
twists or special effects, but with the stupidity and lifelessness
of the characters and story. A horror movie can't get much
worse than this. Sometimes, it's necessary to give such
movies no stars as a final rating, but that rarely happens,
because most horror isn't positively inept. "The Faculty"
is just one margin away from receiving such a pathetic honor,
and the only thing that prevents it from falling into that
basket is the fact that it has a writer and director who
have both done exceptional jobs with their movies in the
would anyone want to make a movie like this, anyway? I seem
to remember a time when screenwriter Kevin Williamson proclaimed
that his movie, "The Faculty," would do for science fiction
what "Scream" did for horror; I assume that meant his film
would change the formula, style, structure, and development
of the standard science fiction movie. He and Robert Rodriguez
pulled out all the stops, too--numerous television ads,
promotion by costume executive Tommy Hilfiger, references
and cameos from the film's biggest stars, and, of course,
televised trailers with the footage from the film that seemed
to hint a good movie was approaching.
never really paid attention to the trailers myself, and
something tells me I didn't miss much, either. What you
want to see never happens, and what you think might happen
does, because the script is so obviously thrown together
that Mr. Williamson forgot two important things: (1) the
element of surprise, and (2) the originality he had promised
us with the "Scream" pictures. The whole setup plays out
in ways beyond comprehension. It's supposed to be science
fiction, but it's much more of your typical horror flick
in which everything seems so bankrupt of new ideas that
not even the old clichés work on screen. No, this isn't
that 'new science-fiction' film we've been expecting. This
is a rip-off of "Invasion Of The Body Snatchers" and the
typical overplayed elements of horror. To even have the
urge to see it is like having the urge to chew on nails
as they are spinning in an electric screwdriver.
movie takes place at (where else?) high school, where we
get briefly acquainted with the student body, a group of
teenagers who look as if they were leftovers at the tryouts.
I have nothing against actors like Elijah Wood, or the hit
R & B singer Usher, but when their characters are developed
poorly through a series of incredibly weak dimensions, their
screen presence cannot be taken seriously.
now I'm getting sidetracked. Essentially, the student body
discovers that the teachers, coaches, etc. in their school
have become inhabited by alien life forms who plan to destroy
the human race. To carry out the performances of these alien-possessed
high school professors, you have a cast that includes, among
others, Piper Laurie ("Carrie"), Jon Stewart, Salma Hayek
and Daniel Von Bergen. Heck, the movie even has Robert Patrick
(T-1000 from "Terminator 2") show up as one of the members
of the faculty--he plays the mysterious but obvious football
coach. There's always something in the look of his eyes
that gives away any dark side he holds behind him. In Schwarzenegger's
flick, the first time you saw him, you knew he was trouble.
When those eyebrows lower in "The Faculty," you know what's
up his sleeve, as well as the rest of the teaching staff.
that's the big problem. Maybe it's just too predictable
and too foreseen to handle. None of us like to see movies
where we can guess exactly what happens. Being a teenage
horror flick like all the others, maybe that's why, "The
Faculty" is more detestable than it needs to be. If you
had avoided any background history of the film's production,
I'd bet you wouldn't even realize that it was written by
the same guy who wrote "Scream."
Williamson is a fascinating writer, whose new image on the
horror genre has taken it back to stardom. Only in the past
few years had the word 'horror' been neglected from critical
praise and commercial success. Thanks to Williamson's genius,
"Scream" renewed our hope and belief that horror movies
can be original and fun again, as they were over twenty
just hard to believe that this is the same guy who wrote
"I Know What You Did Last Summer" and "The Faculty." Now
that I look at the proof, perhaps there's two Kevin Williamsons
floating around in Hollywood. One of them knows that horror
movies need a severe facelift. The other one thinks that
some extra makeup and minor cosmetic surgery will be enough
to keep it standing awhile longer.
1999, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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