WEIRDLAND: Donnie Darko and The Faculty

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Donnie Darko and The Faculty

Jake Gyllenhaal in People magazine, November 2012

Josh Hartnett, photoshoot by Kurt Iswarienko (2012)

"Donnie Darko" is the first of its type—the surrealist teen schizo angst comedy (Static, Repo Man, Heathers, Parents, etc)—to successfully pull all the elements together and forge them into a genuine work of art. it has depth both of meaning and of feeling; it comes from the heart and not just the head. Donnie Darko is teen comedy romance spliced with hallucinatory horror movie, and yet the splicing is seamless, invisible and impeccable. Except in the early high school scenes (which the director seems to be deliberately undermining by speeding up the images and drowning out the sound), there’s never a sense of watching a cross genre movie. In fact Donnie Darko doesn’t seem like a genre movie at all, principally because it isn’t. It’s closer to Blue Velvet than The Faculty: It’s a rite of passage, a mythological journey. Donnie Darko is a schizo movie about adolescence in which objective reality (so far as there is one, which is debatable) is even weirder than the subjective reality of the schizo himself. Source:

Of the smallish tradition of American black comedies that have utilized a high school setting--Heathers, Rushmore, Election, The Faculty (I insist it's a comedy), none has done so more effectively than Darko. Donnie's school, Middlesex, is lorded over by a grotesque bronze mascot, half-man, half-bulldog, known as the Mongrel, and this bizarre piece of statuary informs the character of the school, a place where self-help guru Jim Cunningham (a perfectly cast Patrick Swayze) is regaled by half the faculty, reviled by the other half, and whose student body has the paranoid cohesion of patients on a mental ward. Gyllenhaal, by turns menacing, vulnerable, and funny, brilliantly assists his director in conveying the emotional substance of the film, and the remainder of the cast--notably Katharine Ross as Donnie's psychiatrist, and Mary McDonnell and Holmes Osborne as his well-intended but bewildered parents--complements his performance. If Darko had been better distributed and given a sufficient advertising budget, I'm convinced that Gyllenhaal would have a chance for an Oscar nomination. Source:

20 Best Horror Movies Of the 1990′s: "The Faculty": "When we were in school we all thought our teachers were aliens from outter space and in the case of The Faculty they really are. Written by Scream scribe Kevin Williamson and directed by Robert Rodriguez The Faculty is an outstanding teen horror film that evolves around a group of students who must unite to not just take back their school but also save the world. The film stars Elijah Wood and Josh Hartnett as well as the stunning Selma Hayek who plays a ‘school nurse’… if only she really was." Source:

“And I thought that maybe I could give you a taste of my world. A world without anger, without fear, without attitude. Where the underachiever goes home at night to parents who care. The jock can be smart, the ugly duckling beautiful, and the class wuss doesn’t have to live in terror. The new girl - well - the new girl she can just fit right in with anybody. People who are just like her. You see Casey, even Mary-Beth’s feelings can be hurt by a bunch of pathetic, lost, little outcasts who truly believe that their disaffected lonely life is the only way they can survive.” -Marybeth Louise Hutchinson (Laura Harris) in The Faculty

"This smart, involving sci-fi picture, set in an Ohio high school, pays homage to several genre faves, notably Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Thing.

But more surprising is the nod to The Breakfast Club, with peer group pressure, disaffected teens rebelling against 'alien' adult authority figures, and Duvall's miserablist Goth, Stokely, a dead ringer for Ally Sheedy's shy, neurotic Allison. The neatly worked scenario pits a disparate group of Herrington High students against teachers who've been transformed by an alien parasite into smily, emotionless drones. Forced to work together, the kids put aside their differences, using their newly discovered collective strength to fight the common alien foe. But since affected humans show no outward signs of having been 'turned', even this tightknit group is riven by suspicion and paranoia. Rodriguez opts for a slow build-up, using John Carpenter style framing and fluid camera movements to generate creepy suspense, before pushing in close to engage with the threatened teens." Source:

Some clips from "The Faculty" (1998) directed by Robert Rodriguez, starring Josh Hartnett, Elijah Wood, Jordana Brewster, Clea DuVall, Laura Harris and Shawn Hatosy.

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