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The Faculty (1998)

Story by David Wechter & Bruce Kimmel  Screenplay by Kevin Williamson  Directed by Robert Rodriguez

   Originally having the desire to direct, Williamson found his knack in screenwriting of which I’d venture to say was what he was meant for. Though his involvement in a most recent series has yet to catch my attention, there is not one movie or show (Dawson’s Creek) that I have not received complete joy from watching. Yes, even Teaching Mrs. Tingle. What I enjoy most from his characters being that for the most part they are usual smart aleck “teenagers” with utter fascinations of films and enjoy referencing them to death. The fact that I may have also described myself with that last sentence being the other part of the appeal. Williamson has also been able to work with so many great people that are able to perfectly attune to his audience by the way in which they shoot his scripts.

The Film opens up on the football field where Coach Willis (Robert Patrick) is a bit more frustrated than usual and taking it out on his quarterback, Stan (Shawn Hatosy). Leaving to hit the showers the Coach further takes his frustration out onto the field when approached by a figure and asks “Yea, what?” To which we then are taken later in the evening in the faculty lounge where we find Principal Drake (Bebe Neuwirth) discussing financial matters with Mrs. Olson (Piper Laurie) and Mr. Tate (Daniel von Bargen). An overall lack of effect being put into their particular interest at hand as they live in a football town and have little authority in fighting an entire school board on the matter. Dismissing and most of the faulty leaving for the night, the Principal walks back to her office to find a surprise visit from Coach Willis who seemed in dire need of a pencil. Sticking one to the wo-man, Drake finds herself trapped in the Coach’s path with almost no way out. That is, until it seems not all the teachers had left. Mrs. Olson is quick to the rescue but simply a pawn being moved as she completes the coach’s intentions and claims in always wanting to have done that.

The next day we see a typical day at Herrington High (shot in Austin) shedding light on the different types of students who eventual join together later in the film. Zeke (Josh Hartnett) drives up, clearly thinking highly of himself as he exits the vehicle and grabs several pens from his truck (filled with something other than ink). Casey (Elijah Wood) exits the school bus and glances at popular girl Delilah (Jordana Brewster) but not before being punched in the nose which he then apologizes for. Guess we know who the bitch in the film’s going to be already. Stokely’s (Clea DuVall) too preoccupied with a ongoing fight to notice Stan who she runs right into asking “walk much?” Of which he replies, “You ran into me beast.”

Stan approaches his girlfriend Delilah with the possibility of a headliner for the school paper to only get the response of “leave the news to me, ok?” What a bitcharoonidooni. New student Marybeth (Laura Harris) approaches a stranger to ask where the office may be giving the clear indication of being the sweet and innocent one, riiight. We hear of Zeke repeating his senior year and having become quite the business man selling to his first customers: cameo by Danny Masterson and Wiley Wiggins! Mr. Tate enters the faculty lounge where we find a plethora of familiar faces. Nurse Harper (Salma Hayek), Miss Burke (Famke Janssen) and Professor Furlong (Jon Stewart) are in conversation speaking of the typical complaints one might have working within a High School.

Once again attempting to converse with Delilah, Stan makes his presence known and informs her of his plans on quitting the football team to focus on his studies. Initially seen as a joke at first. Later finding Casey on the football field during lunch making an discovery that he takes back to Mr. Furlong in hopes of discovering what it was exactly. Furlong puts the discovery under the microscope while several others begin gathering around. The “sea-dwelling organism” had impossibly come from their current location in Ohio and was the likelihood of a new species, being the most probable conclusion. But when water gets knocked onto the tiny creature and has an instant reaction they vie throwing it into a fish tank for further observation. Cue to a brief encounter in the showers when Stan receives a surprise visit from a member of the faculty warning that “they” want everyone.

Casey and Delilah scavenge the faculty lounge in hopes of finding the next story for the front page when Casey rushes to shove them both into the closet. The Coach and Mrs. Olson enter to discuss a plan involving converting the rest faculty when Nurse Harper enters and the two seclude her inside while grabbing her face and implanting something into her ear. Obviously frightened, noises cannot help but be made as the two make a run for it and suddenly find themselves surrounded by several members of the staff. Returning to the school later with the police and his parents, Casey is disproved as his mother and father begin questioning the sanity of their child. Back at home his parents search his room assuming drugs are behind the incident, taking away further privileges as punishment.

Reluctantly returning to school the next day Casey meets up with Delilah who agreed that something was definitely going on. Her disguise is presumed incognito, wearing a ponytail and her glasses; clearly no match for the ever advanced aliens taking over the school. -_- Reconvening in class Mr. Tate informs his students that they would be notating every member of the entire family, as their test. As well, having students line up to get “ear exams” as the cast disperses once again. Zeke runs into the new Miss Burke, one tired of putting up with his usual crap and embarrassing him in front of his peers. While in the library Casey and Stokely discuss the possibility of science fiction streaming from some form of truth and shortly gathering with the rest of the nonconformist in an empty classroom. Soon interrupted by Mr. Furlong who hears Casey’s theory and decided to prove them right by attacking them. Though he ends up losing his fingers and getting a pen full of Zeke’s own scat recipe right in the eye. Having an immediate reaction and seemingly being the only ones left in the school not infected, they make their way to the parking lot as the five take off to Zeke’s place. Discovering the method to madness and observing the creature Casey obtained from their previous encounter.

Discovering it was in fact a parasite in need of attaching its self to a host, they decide to ensure everyone was who they said, before going forth with anything. Having the only knowledge of Zeke’s concoction being some type of resolution, the group takes turns in snorting the powder with the discovery that someone had been hiding. A showdown moment results in the infiltrator escaping and leaving no choice but to attend the football game of which the entire town is present for. Certain that the Principal was behind everything, Stan and Stokely cut through the crowds upon arrival locating their target. They reconvene at the gym where Drake had already followed them and soon meets her demise when Marybeth wastes the majority of the powder by dumping it over her already dead body. Suspicious behavior, no?

Down to four, Casey and Zeke make a run for his car where the actual last handful of formula remained. Casey finding himself at the mercy of his surroundings, running for his life while Miss Burke tried her hand at seducing Zeke. Showing full well why Zombieland’s rule #4 of wearing seat belt comes in handy. Back at the gym Stokely and Marybeth begin discussing the possibilities of what may be happening as a positive. They were being given a chance to better themselves; leading to the discovery we have been waiting for the entire movie. The rest of the movie resting solely in Casey’s hands, guess he wasn’t such a big bitch after all. Fast forward a month after the events to a new school and new way of thinking for our students. Yes folks, at the end of any good terrifying tale we must reach the archetypal ending showing how things have forever “changed” the town. Who are filmmakers to not give the people what they want?

Simply yet another example of the fine work from both cast and crew. Margaret White and T-1000 being just a sample of the elite staff of sinister teachers. Each bringing their custom moments of scare tactics to the student body with Wood turning out as a nice choice for the incomparable hero in the end. Great shots and moments of suspense captured, Rodriguez only producing such. Admittedly the ending was predictable since it was clear who had just been introduced while the events started taking place. But that is an unfortunate mishap of the genre. A win for everyone involved; The Faculty delivers in a most enticing manner filled with the wits and ways of teenage terror done by those knowing it best.