"What I want to do with the science-fiction genre," screenwriter Kevin Williamson confesses, " is the same thing as Scream. I want to attack every single genre. That’s my goal in life." Intelligent and entertaining in Scream and Scream 2 — both scripted by Williamson — the attack is, however, disturbingly juvenile in The Faculty.
Not that we have anything against genre-benders: On the contrary, if The Faculty looked even remotely like a promising failure, we’d be the first to applaud the courageous craft of Robert Rodriguez (El Mariachi, From Dusk Till Dawn). But as The Breakfast Club meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers in the presence of The Puppetmaster and Scream, the humorous and the horrific cancel each other out, draining The Faculty of any real excitement.
The Supercool Kid who turns the trunk of his car into a convenience store (Josh Harnett); the star quarterback (Shawn Hatosy) who dates the head cheerleader (Jordana Brewster); the brainy loner (Clea Duvall) who keeps everyone as far away as possible with her looks straight out of The Craft; the shy newcomer (Laura Harris) and the unlikely hero (Elijah Wood) discover, one bright morning, that their high school has been taken over by aliens. Indeed, the principal (Bebe Neuwirth), the pedagogically challenged English teacher (Famke Janssen), the seasoned drama instructor (Piper Laurie), the laid-back biology teacher (Jon Stewart), the formidable coach (Robert Patrick) and the burned-out history professor (Daniel Von Bargen) are creatures from another planet set on bringing their students across to their own dehydrated species. (An amusing detail: Like our health-crazed peers, the aliens consume large quantities of water.)
And, yes, from time to time we do catch a glimpse of Rodriguez’s cool, creeping shots, his haunting close-ups, his acute sense of rhythm. And, yes, as "an educator at a university," the reviewer has developed a certain understanding for episodes of pathological behavior resulting in the annihilation of the student body — especially at the end of the semester.
But The Faculty needs more than that to succeed, even if — as we are constantly reminded — it is only a film.
Send comments to [email protected].