The Faculty Review

by "Luke Buckmaster" (bucky AT alphalink DOT com DOT au)
August 7th, 1999

Cast: Elijah Wood, Josh Hartnett, Clea DuVall, Jordana Brewster, Laura Harris, Shawn Hotosy
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Screenplay: Kevin Williamson based on a story by David Wechter & Bruce Kimmel
Reviewed by Luke Buckmaster

On the Buckmaster scale of 0 stars (bomb), to 5 stars (a masterpiece): 3 stars

With a credit list that is sure to raise some eyebrows, The Faculty boasts two of the best names in the horror industry, director Robert Rodriguez (From Dusk Till Dawn, Desperado) and screenwriter Kevin Williamson (Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer).

Sure enough, the screenplay boasts Williamson's entertaining 90's-culture dialogue as well as some likeable characters - who collectively bear a radical resemblance to the characters from The Breakfast Club - but at times is severely let down by Rodriguez's direction. His usual electric pacing is somewhat lacking, as is his keen sense of the absurd. His direction is certainly not without its merits - many of them attributed to atmosphere, others the clever structure of scenes that reflect older styles of horror filmmaking mixed with props and surroundings from a very modern era - that create a sort of Invasion of the Body Snatchers for the Mortal Kombat age.

One perfectly satirical touch comes curtsey of Williamson, who ingeniously gives the heroes of the story - school kids battling their teachers, whose bodies have been taken over by aliens - only one kind of weapon that they can effectively fight with: home made speed. In an irony that is both whimsical fun and tongue-in-cheek cynicism, a life-threatening, deadly, don't-touch-it-for-the-life-of-you substance is now saving the human race from oblivion. Which, I thought, was kinda cool, although Rodriguez's finished product is not a film that will be remembered in ten, or even five years time. In his attempts to once again re-create the horror genre - after the mammoth commercial and artistic success of From Dusk Till Dawn - Rodriguez has created an enjoyable, not-to-be-taken-seriously piece that entertains well, although sometimes doesn't quite cut it (no pun intended).

Review copyright Luke Buckmaster

Read more of my reviews at In Film Australia

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