This film will always hold a special place in my heart. Every couple of years I rewatch it and I am brought back to my years in middle school (I’m 28, quit trying to do the math). At that time, teen screams were at an all-time high with the recent releases of Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and Urban Legend. The Faculty followed in these films footsteps, and even though it is in the science fiction subgenre of horror, I still love it as much as the above mentioned (though Scream is definitely at the top).
The list of characters is undeniably similar to the characters in The Breakfast Club. We have the nerd, the jock, the princess, the rebel, the goth chick, and the new girl. As stereotypical and cliché as these characters are, the film really fleshes out their personalities in a way that everyone can relate. I know these characters. I grew up with them. As the audience, we are invested in these complex characters and it is impossible not care about what happens to them, even the ones we love to hate.
The rebel is in his fifth year and an “entrepreneur” of drugs. The jock is a conflicted quarterback with a kind heart. The goth girl uses a cover as a lesbian even though she is secretly in love with the jock. The princess with an attitude dates the jock and is perfect in everything she does. The nerd is the geeky Stephen King kid and the new girl is just trying to fit in. Each is dealing with their own high school drama. But life is about to get even harder when they realize that the disgruntled faculty has started to exhibit some bizarre behavior.
The first scene when all the characters are in one room together is when things really start to heat up and they have absolute truth that the faculty have turned into aliens. Aliens are taking over the fucking school! And what’s even worse, the pandemic is spreading. But who is going to believe a bunch of delinquents? What really works in this film is the element of surprise. There are no true distinguishing factors that make someone recognizable as an alien or not. So each time an alien is revealed, it is a completely unpredictable and an absolute surprise- no matter how many times you have seen it.
‘Human host’ films can sometimes feel like a dime a dozen. Though this movie is reminiscent of older films, it is still totally original. The fact that it takes the common problems found in all high schools and makes alien-ism almost appealing, with the thought of everyone being equal and belonging with no fear and no problems, is totally genius. One of the characters even brings up the book Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which most of us know was turned into a big cinematic hit in the 70’s. I like that the film makes a point of showing the direct relationship to this classic. This has actually inspired me to start reading Invasion of the Body Snatchers only days after watching this.
Everything is done right in this film, from the screenplay to the casting. The writing is excellent and full of foreshadowing with lines like, “I’m feeling pretty alien myself today,” and “Stick a pen in my eye,” and “I don’t think a person should run unless he is being chased.” And with a knockout cast like Josh Hartnett, Salma Hayek, Usher, Jon Stewart, and Elijah Wood, you can’t go wrong. This film will always remain relevant to teens, no matter the era.
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