Nostalgic News – The Faculty turns 25!


Williamson’s early success with Scream is, unfortunately, a shadow that has loomed over his entire career, however, The Faculty shows that he can somewhat replicate the winning formula. With From Dusk Till Dawn director Robert Rodriguez by his side, Williamson undertook a rendition of the classic sci-fi novel The Body Snatchers. 

The misfit cast is largely led by Elijah Wood’s character, Casey, and the plot follows an alien invasion of the school. Following the introduction of the rest of the main characters, The Faculty’s biggest problem is immediately evident – the main cast is too big. Ideally, two of the characters

Via Film Affinity

should have been cut, or at least relegated to side characters who have a line here or there before becoming a host for the parasite. There are three romantic plotlines, what seems like an attempt to tackle social issues, and a highly problematic implied student-teacher relationship. The simplicity of the main plot is perfect for a teen setting as it allows the writer freedom to build a strong cast of characters, a clear message, and well-thought-out relationships. But, The Faculty seems to lack direction and ends up feeling convoluted in places.

The saviour to what could have been a multi-million-mess is the archetypical characterization of the main cast. Reliance on stereotypes can make stories feel stale, but since this film isn’t serving as a character study like The Breakfast Club, it can get away with leaning back on well-known tropes because this creates the illusion of fleshed-out characters. So, despite the writing being weak in this area, the characters feel familiar, which adds to the charm and nostalgia. The Faculty isn’t attempting commentary or subversion, it is genuinely just a teen horror. This isn’t meant derogatorily, it simply means that the audience isn’t expecting every aspect of the film to be perfect or clever. This is a cult classic because it’s somewhat of a comfort horror film – it does exactly what it seems like it will, no smokes and mirrors. The formulaic familiarity makes for exciting yet easy viewing, even if it is very implausible that Casey and Delilah ended up together. 

Via Film Affinity

The convoluted nature of the script is also helped by the film being genuinely enjoyable and fun. It’s not trying to be clever; the pacing and the premise are great. It feels like an episode of Buffy in feature-length form. There are some really nice horror set pieces and kills, like the shower scene with Stan (Shawn Hatosy), and the film is fun and is a far stronger addition to Williamson’s resume than I Know What You Did Last Summer. Rodriguez’s influence makes for a cheesy, action-packed, B-movie experience. He doesn’t handle the script with deft nuance, which leaves some emotional beats lacking, but somehow, it still works.

Outside of the script issues, the movie is really fun to watch. Josh Hartnett and Clea Duvall’s performances are certainly standouts and Rodrigez’s over-the-top direction manages to generate a timeless charm, despite the film being firmly rooted in the 90s horror zeitgeist. The intense B-movie atmosphere gives The Faculty room to be imperfect. It’s a fantastically unserious horror film instead of simply being an average mainstream

release. That’s not to say this film is unpopular, but by leaning into the shlocky nature of the script, the cast and crew have managed to create a beloved cult classic. 

The plot doesn’t dwell on the thematic notion of the ‘other’, or individual autonomy explicitly. But, the school setting provides the idea of mindless conformity that most of the audience would have experienced. This is bolstered by the monster turning out to be the new girl with a notable Southern accent. She represents the idea of a threat from elsewhere, reminiscent of the political landscape of the 1980s, something which a lot of 90s horror does commentate on, even if the film isn’t satire. So, The Faculty does have some depth to it, although this is largely down to the Body Snatchers material it’s based on. 

Ultimately, this is a really fun film, a 90s teen rendition of a classic sci-fi story that doesn’t take itself too seriously. 

Watch the original trailer for The Faculty here, via Miramax: 


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