The Faculty

This one is The Invasion of the BEd Snatchers, as teachers one by one seem to be transforming weirdly at Ohio’s Herrington High.

The Faculty¬†teachers have had their mental faculties altered by a malevolent force that’s coming for the students, “hey, teachers leave those kids alone.”

The school’s resident nerd, Casey (elfin cerulean-eyed Elijah Wood) finds a pelagic slug far from where its home should be in this, a land-locked state. He brings it to the science teacher, Mr Furlong (Jon Stewart) and before you know it, the thing sprouts weird tendrils before biting the biologist and rolling the narrative ball downhill.

Herrington is all Breakfast Clubbed when it comes to cliques, with teen dynamics any demographic will recognize. The Faculty wisely invests in its disparate cast(e): the criminal, jock, new girl, Goth, stoner, nerd, goddess, etc, all of whom must band together Stranger Things-style to take out the queen parasite of the hive mind (it’s no accident the school’s team nickname is The Hornets).

They’re soon compelled to put differences aside and begin poking around the science lab trying to figure out what’s making the teachers act so odd. And all the while, they’re stymied by indifferent authority figures.

The Faculty comes to us at the tail end of the unforgiving 90s, a time when the horror genre was in a real slump (come to think of it, the Golden Era of Rap excepted, the same could be said for music). It’s since recovered, but after sustaining many a self-referential / ironic body blow.

Written by Scream’s Kevin Williamson, this one is all over the map tonally, complete with obvious song choices (School’s Out/Another Brick in the Wall) and too long by 20 minutes. Still, it’s hard to go wrong with this talented cast and the bleacher-creature finale is off-the-charts.

*** (out of 5)

I Know What You Did Last Summer

A concoction with unblended bits of The Mutilator, Urban Legend, and of course, Scream, The “I Know What You Did Last Summer smoothie” is drinkable enough…question is, whether it’s good for you.

Usually, when a reviewer has zero recollection of having experienced something, there’s a reason for it. Chalk it up to multiple movie-induced False Memory Syndrome, or as is usually the case…that the film is literally forgettable. But I Know What You Did…has a lot of the elements that made Scream successful. And in some ways it even betters its better-remembered Kevin Williamson-penned predecessor with¬†more interesting characters, less self-referential cutesy talk, and a killer with a fish hook.

Four rich-kid partiers plow over a pedestrian as they’re driving home from a beach party. With some strong-arming, they convince the dissenting member of their party, Julie, that they should bury the evidence at sea, and never mention it again. But as the title suggests, there’s a figure meting out justice, and the foursome, while they might be able to escape their consciences, cannot run from a urban legend-inspired antagonist.

A year later, around the same time Julie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) receives a note with no return address, citing the fatal incident. The kids suspect near-witness blue collar/red herring, Max (Johnny Galecki), but he’s hooked like a marlin in spectacularly gory fashion. The group realizes they gotta fight for their lives.

With sharp gallows humor and sharper performances, I Know What You Did…yes…baits the viewer with little dabs of effective hook foreshadowing, and even spares a member of the party when it’s least expected. There are references to other genre hits, both large and small: Barry (Ryan Phillippe) is stalked in a change-room a la Fatal Games; the traffic victim’s sister (Anne Heche) occupies an abode not far removed from the Sawyer house in Texas Chainsaw Massacre; and the killer hunts down hapless victims with a hook like fellow sleepy fishing village slasher, The Mutilator.

Where things go astray is in the back-third, where the silliness piles up more than the bodies.

Better than you remember, but not really good enough to stand the test of time (or merit two pathetic sequels)…Still, there’s enough to make this worth a re-watch.

*** (out of 5)