The Faculty is a great movie that takes the old Invasion of the Body Snatchers story and rather than turning it on its head, just gives a slight twist but leaves everything else relatively in line. It also helps that, like the Scream movies before, it’s self aware of the kind of movie this is.
Genre(s): Horror, Suspense
Echo Bridge/Miramax | R – 105 min. – $14.99 | July 31, 2012
Directed by: Robert Rodriguez
Writer(s): David Wechter & Bruce Kimmel (story), Kevin Williamson (screenplay)
Cast: Jordana Brewster, Clea DuVall, Laura Harris, Josh Hartnett, Shawn Hatosy, Salma Hayek, Famke Janssen, Piper Laurie, Bebe Neuwirth, Robert Patrick, Usher Raymond, Jon Stewart, Elijah Wood
Theatrical Release Date: December 25, 1998
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.78
Disc Size: 21.7 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 3.75/5
Plot Synopsis: When some very creepy things start happening around school, the kids at Herrington High – Delilah (JORDANA BREWSTER), Stokes (CLEA DUVALL), Marybeth (LAURA HARRIS), Zeke (JOSH HARTNETT), Stan (SHAWN HATOSY) and Casey (ELIJAH WOOD) – make a chilling discovery that confirms their worst suspicions: their teachers really are from another planet. As mind-controlling parasites rapidly begin spreading from the faculty to the students’ bodies, it’s ultimately up to the few who are left—an unlikely collection of loners, leaders, nerds and jocks—to save the world from alien domination.
Quick Hit Review: I originally watched The Faculty on DVD probably 10 years ago and frankly didn’t think much of it (on IMDb I had rated it a 5/10), but seeing it again recently, I must admit my younger self was clearly wrong. This is a fun, oft intelligent horror-thriller which screenwriter Kevin Williamson (Scream) doesn’t reinvent the wheel, just put new shiny hubcaps and update it instead. It’s obviously a copycat of the classic, Invasion of the Body Snatchers which, during one scene, a character tells the history of the story and its origins; this also serves as reasoning as to why the aliens are taking over in the first place. It’s actually a clever bit of writing that if it were in another movie, I’d label it as lazy and close to cheating (because they rely on science fiction to stop the invasion).
This 1998 released feature is also remarkable in the casting department. While none of them are exactly heavy-hitters, they do remind me of the ensemble put together for the original Scream with lots of young faces with a ton of potential. Josh Hartnett leads the pack as the dark and mysterious guy he portrayed early in his career (beginning with Halloween H20 and The Virgin Suicides); Clea DuVall is the Goth chick before the Twilight books and movies made it “cool” to be one; Jordana Brewster is great as the popular girl who somehow, someway finds geeky Elijah Wood adorable (albeit in a puppy love kind of way on his part); and the rest are equally impressive including the lesser known Shawn Hatosy who is developing into a respectable character actor with appearances on “Dexter” and most recently, “Southland”. Oh, and it also helps to have ladies like Famke Janssen and Salma Hayek in this even if it’s only for brief appearances…
On the technical side, although I don’t think The Faculty ranks very high amongst fans, I actually think this is director Robert Rodriguez’s finer works, or at least it’s sure as hell better than the Spy Kids movies, targeted audience withstanding. This is a suspenseful movie that, under writer Williamson, takes a classic story and rather than revamping it to the point of ineptitude or insane lameness instead takes the strengths of the source material and puts a fun spin on it.
As I said before, I wasn’t fond of this movie before but upon a second viewing a decade plus later, The Faculty is a fun movie with a fine young cast and truly thrilling scenes with more than a dash of dark humor to spice things up.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 0/5
Unfortunately there are no features included but you’re not missing much since the DVD didn’t have any either…
VIDEO – 3.5/5
Infecting its way onto Blu-ray, The Faculty looks alright with a 1.78 widescreen aspect ratio and 1080p HD. The picture doesn’t have much of a wow factor going on but the detail levels mainly for close-ups look good while wider shots can show off a fair amount of artifacts. I doubt much work was done for the transfer and comparing it with my Alliance copy, I didn’t notice much of a difference.
AUDIO – 3.75/5
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track in the meantime is acceptable but hardly has much of a punch going for it. The dialogue levels come out of the center channel quite well and even some of the more suspenseful moments when Marco Beltrami’s score revs up sounds fine but any other scenes with action, such as an explosion, is lacking.
OVERALL – 2.25/5
Overall, The Faculty is a great movie that takes the old Invasion of the Body Snatchers story and rather than turning it on its head, just gives a slight twist but leaves everything else relatively in line. It also helps that, like the Scream movies before, it’s self aware of the kind of movie this is. The Blu-ray, however, doesn’t have any features while the audio/video transfers are merely acceptable. At a cheap price, which this should be, it might be worth upgrading over your DVD copy if only because, from what I read, the DVD is non-anamorphic.