The Faculty

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
The Faculty Movie Poster Image
Kitschy '90s sci-fi horror, lots of cursing, some gore.
  • R
  • 1998
  • 104 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

No positive messages. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

No positive role models. 

Violence

Horror violence, some gore. Teacher stabbed through the hand with a pencil, later stabbed to death with scissors. A teacher who has turned into a monstrous alien has his fingers cut off with a paper cutter and then is stabbed in the eye with a pen filled with an antidote drug and killed. Car crash, explosion. Teacher thought to have transformed into an alien shot in the head. Bullying: One of the lead characters is constantly getting shoved, knocked down, and carried, and smashed into a flagpole groin-first. 

Sex

Brief nudity, female buttocks from a distance, in near-darkness; a teen girl is naked, outline of breasts shown in near-darkness. An irate father ransacks his teenage son's room, finds pornographic magazines under the mattress, then uses a euphemism for masturbation. A student makes sexual advances toward an uptight teacher, offering her cherry-flavored condoms; after she turns into an alien she tries to seduce him and references the condoms. A student implies that masturbation was how Robinson Crusoe survived being shipwrecked on an island. 

Language

Frequent use of "f--k" by adults and teens alike. Other profanity includes "bitch," "pr--k," "p---y," "pissed," "d--kless," "t-tbags." An angry girl who keeps to herself is labeled a "dyke" by the popular students; one of the students persists in calling her that name at every opportunity. One of the lead characters is a target for bullies, and is called names like "pisswad" by football players. 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A lead character makes a drug called "Scat" that's made from caffeine pills and is discovered to be deadly to the aliens that have invaded a high school. Lead characters sniff "Scat" out of emptied-out Bic pens and then act "tweaked "-- energetic and irrationally giggly. A character smokes a joint at football practice. A teacher pours whiskey from a flask into his coffee mug and teaches a high school class while drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Faculty is a 1998 sci-fi horror movie in which teens discover the teachers and students of their high school are being taken over by a monstrous alien form. There's horror movie violence, including a teacher who has turned into an alien and is stabbed in the eye with a pen and has his fingers lopped off with a paper cutter. A teacher is stabbed through the hand with a pencil and is later stabbed "to death" with scissors. This same teacher is later shot in the head by the protagonists, who aren't sure if she's human or alien. Frequent use of "f--k" by adults and students; other profanity frequently used. A sullen teen girl who keeps to herself is labeled a "dyke" by the popular students and is frequently insulted with that slur. Another lead character is physically and verbally bullied at every turn, including getting slammed repeatedly into a flagpole groin-first. One of the protagonists is a drug dealer who sells an amphetamine-type drug called "Scat." When "Scat" is discovered to be deadly to the aliens, the lead characters snort it to prove that they haven't become aliens, then act high. A student tries to initiate an affair with a teacher, offering her cherry-flavored condoms; when she becomes an alien, she makes advances on him and references the condoms. The film also shows cigarette smoking, brief nudity from afar, and brief marijuana use.

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What's the story?

Inside an Ohio high school, strange happenings are occurring beneath the surface in THE FACULTY. Teachers, coaches, and administrators don't seem to be their usual selves. While spying in the teacher's lounge, Delilah, the editor of the school paper (Jordana Brewster), and the perpetually bullied photographer Casey (Elijah Wood), witness the football coach (Robert Patrick) and one of the teachers (Piper Laurie) attack the school nurse, sticking a creature in her ear that looks like the small creature he discovered in the football field that his science teacher (Jon Stewart) believes to be an undiscovered parasite. They flee when they discover the rotting body of an older teacher. They join forces with other students representing various high school cliques who have made similar discoveries: Stan the football hero, Zeke the drug dealer (Josh Hartnett), Stokely the sullen girl who the popular kids think is a lesbian, and Marybeth, a seemingly nice new girl who has just arrived from Atlanta. When they thwart an attack from the science teacher by stabbing him in the eye with a pen filled with "Scat," a homemade drug Zeke created in a makeshift lab in his parents' garage, they realize they must make more of this drug to stop what's happening. But while they escape the school, the "Scat" seems to be the only way to know who has and hasn't been consumed by the alien parasite. Based on Stokely's understanding of sci-fi novels, it's determined that this unlikely teen alliance must find the alien queen amongst them and kill it before the parasites spread throughout Ohio and beyond. 

Is it any good?

This movie, clearly rooted in the tradition of alien invasion and monster B movies of the 1950s, offers a 1990s version here. Instead of Martian attacks rooted in the fears of communist invasions and nuclear war, it's the invasion of the herd mentality in the high school football-loving small towns of America mixed with the clique-questioning of 1980s John Hughes movies, and the oh-so-'90s self-awareness of having the characters flat-out reference the movies and books upon which the movie is borrowing from. And let's not forget a soundtrack sprinkled liberally with horrible '90s bands covering songs they should have left alone (in this case, for example, Creed covering "I'm Eighteen" by Alice Cooper). 

It's not groundbreaking cinema, and everyone involved in this all-star cast went on to do far more memorable projects. The archetypal characters at times veer into stereotypes, and expressions of bullying and homophobia haven't aged well. But for some it's an enjoyable glimpse into the recent past, a time before the characters could easily have solved the mysteries and conflicts of The Faculty with a few short clicks and texts on their phones.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about teen horror movies like The Faculty. What are some of the conventions of horror movies in which teens play a central role? How are adults often conveyed in these kinds of movies?

  • This movie also has a strong sci-fi element to it, with its use of aliens. What are some of the conventions of alien invasion-type movies? 

  • This movie has a cult following because it features early performances by actors who went on to bigger roles, such as Elijah Wood, Salma Hayek, and Josh Hartnett. It also has kitsch appeal as a movie from the '90s. Why are people nostalgic for bygone decades? What are some examples of movies that evoke nostalgia for the past? 

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