Blu-ray Review: THE FACULTY - Fun Teen Sci-Fi Horror Receives Paltry Release

We've all thought it, perhaps even fantasised about it...because let's face it, teachers all seem like aliens when your a teenager!

We've all thought it, perhaps even fantasised about it...because let's face it, teachers all seem like aliens when your a teenager! Released on Blu-ray for the first time, it's time to relieve those teenage dreams with The Faculty. Read on for our review... Herrington High, Ohio, a small-town high school. All of a sudden, the teachers start changing attitude. When Casey (Elijah Wood) and Delilah (Jordana Brewster) have to hide in a closet in the teacher's lounge, they witness the strangulation of Nurse Harper by two of them. Shocked, they manage to flee. Only moments later, the nurse seems to be very alive, but also somehow changed, like all the teachers and most of the students. Only Casey, Delilah and four others seem to be suspicious. Proof of an alien infection is finally brought by the chemistry teacher, who also points out a way to kill the infected humans. The plan now is to get the queen, before the aliens can spread out over the whole country€ The Faculty is a darkly comic sci-fi horror film that combines action and suspense with a unique sense of humour. Written by Scream writer Kevin Williamson during the days when he was selling his horror films left, right and center and directed by Robert Rodriguez, the film combines elements of David Cronenberg-esque €˜body horror€™ with a 1950s sense of sci fi paranoia. The all-star cast consists of a large number of well known and talented actors, as well as some that are less than solid. Stars such as Famke Janssen, Bibi Neuwirth, Piper Laurie, Robert Patrick, John Stewart and Salma Hayek as the possessed teachers are all brilliantly cast. Patrick brings the same amount of menace to his performance as Coach Willis as he does the T-1000 in Terminator 2. Janssen perfectly captures the naivety and lack of confidence of her character, Miss Burke, in the opening sequences of the film, but is equally convincing as the sexy and malevolent minx she becomes after the transformation. Rodriguez regular Hayek has a very brief role, but she shows an aptitude for tongue in cheek comedy as the school nurse. The cast brought together as the students is also proficient, even if they are less impressive that those playing the faculty members. Elijah Wood as Casey and Clea DuVall as Stokely stand out as the most memorable, giving performances that play on a number of teen stereotypes without being too ridiculous. Both provide equal amounts of comedy and drama, giving solid performances that make the most of the material. Josh Hartnett and Laura Harris are both atrocious here, giving wooden and stilted performances that are by far the weakest out of the entire cast. Neither are particularly strong actors, but they have certainly been much stronger elsewhere.

QUALITY

The visual quality of Lionsgate's HD print is generally very impressive. Free from persistent grain, the images are only afflicted with the odd blemish or distortion. For the most part though, these aren't distracting or irritating. The colour scheme is rather sparse and over exposed, with saturated muted hues for the most part. Splashes of bright colours permeate throughout the narrative - particularly in costumes - and the Bluray transfer picks these up so well that they burn bright on screen. Definition is stellar, with small details remaining crystal clear, but this does mean that skin tones appear rather fake, muddy and caked in far too much makeup. The audio quality is similarly solid, with clean dialogue that is always clear and intelligible. The sound effects that heighten the eerie and more action-based elements of the narrative consume the whole audio stream at times, but this helps place viewers directly into the centre of the action. The musical soundtrack is an eclectic mix of 90s American grunge, rock and folk, helping add an eerie feel to proceedings. The original score takes influence from Bernard Herrman's Psycho score, with its heavily string based melodies that perfectly capture the tension and excitement within certain scenes.

EXTRAS

No special features are on the release, which is rather disappointing. Film: 3.5 out of 5 The Faculty is an enjoyable and entertaining film that cleverly blends black comedy with a sci fi/horror narrative. Reversing the 'Children of the Damned' syndrome of evil kids oppressing the adult community, it instead pits teenage students against teachers in a way many of us probably wished we could have been during our school years! Visuals: 3.5 out of 5 The film has transferred well, with the HD print offering sharp and clean images. A little bit of grain and other image distortion is occasionally noticeable, but rarely distracting. Colour schemes have also upgraded well, but skin tones loom rather muddy and the cast look too heavily made up here. Audio: 4 out of 5 Dialogue, sound effects and ambient audio are all solid, with the eclectic musical soundtrack equally proficient. All these elements work in tandem to heighten the underlying suspense within the narrative. Extras: 0 out of 5 Unfortunately there is no accompanying bonus material on this release. Presentation: 3 out of 5 The static menu mimics the original poster image, with the primary teenage cast lined up. It's a simple setup, but viewers will easily find their way around the menu. Overall: 3 out of 5 The Faculty is a fun piece of tongue in cheek sci fi that will have many viewers recalling their first watch back in their term years! Whilst the film is entertaining and looks good enough in HD, Lionsgate's sparse release is really nothing special. The Faculty is available on Blu-ray now.
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