Back to School Horrors: The Faculty, Slaughterhouse Rulz and Tormented

The Faculty (1998)

What do you get if you cross The Breakfast Club with Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Buffy the Vampire Slayer? The answer is the truly underrated classic The Faculty from 1998. I say underrated as any quick internet search will instantly flag that initial reviews of Robert Rodriguez’s high school sci-fi horror were mediocre at best. However, despite this, The Faculty went on to earn cult status, its delightfully different take on sci-fi horror igniting a spark in viewers’ imagination. But let me explain why The Faculty remains one of the best teen horror movies of the 90s.

School is by its very nature an alien environment for many kids and teens, the corridors full of love, hate, indifference and rejection. Of course, many young people sail through the extremes of friendship, relationships and popularity contests that school offers. But for others, daily school life is a trauma, their only desire to escape.

The classic sci-fi horror Invasion of the Body Snatchers already had one foot in the reality of school for many kids. Here it’s science fiction and horror reflected the fact that personalities and peer groups continually change for many teens as they adapt their beliefs and ideas to fit in. The Faculty not only reflects the alien environment of the school but layers this with a delicious, humourous and dark take on the body invasion horror.

While The Faculty may not have earned praise as a classic horror on release, it has more than made up for its slow cinematic start. Today The Faculty stands out as a shining gem of late 90s teen sci-fi horror, offering us a fun, lively and engaging cinematic treat. So get ready to face the alien invasion hidden in plain sight, and remember to take your illicit drugs, as who knows which teachers and students hide a swarm of flesh burrowing slugs.

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Cast: Elijah Wood, Josh Hartnett, Jordana BrewsterClea DuVallLaura Harris, Shawn Hatosy 


Slaughterhouse Rulz (2018)

If your parents, no matter how well-meaning, decide to send you to a boarding school named ‘Slaughterhouse’, they are planning to rent out your room permanently. But if that school, no matter how posh, has a colossal fracking site next door, my advice is run! If only someone had told young Don Wallace (Finn Cole) that, he would have never spent his term fighting monsters with a taste for human flesh. But then he also wouldn’t have met his snuff loving roommate Willoughby Blake (Asa Butterfield) or posh girl Clemsie (Hermione Corfield).

Slaughterhouse Rulz wears its comedic colours with pride in lampooning the traditional British boarding school while embracing a light but atmospheric horror. Here its characters and monsters are held within a bubble of ridiculousness encased in the unpenetrable shield of British wit. The result is a joyously light affair with cracking monster effects, engaging humour and devilish deaths. So buckle up for a night of schoolyard terrors, rotten smells, snappy monsters and bloody mortarboards. Just don’t forget the snuff, cricket bats and shin guards.

Director: Crispian Mills

Cast: Margot RobbieMichael SheenHermione Corfield, Asa Butterfield, Simon Pegg, Finn Cole, Nick Frost, Kit Connor 


Tormented (2009)

We have already established that school can be a dark place, from isolation to bullying and peer pressure. But one horror that reflects this more than most and yet remains sadly hidden is Tormented. Wright’s ‘skins’ inspired British gem from 2009 is creative and bold and uncomfortably close to the mark. Here the characters we meet are surrounded by a whirlwind of after school parties, music, sex, popularity contests and drugs. Their behaviour inside the school gate, reflecting the newly emerging worlds of social media, online chat and instant video as they make the lives of other kids a living hell through bullying and torment.

Tormented understands the darker side of school life in a way that will bring back some long-forgotten memories for viewers. The sadistic pleasure many teens gain from their brief notoriety and power, embodied by Alex Pettyfer’s ‘Bradley White’ and his small entourage of followers. Here Alexis (Dimitri Leonidas) plays along with his peer group’s rampant toxic masculinity and bullying while secretly unsure of the lack of ethics and humanity displayed. The recent suicide of his fellow schoolboy Darren Mullet, sitting squarely at the feet of Bradley’s gang.

Wright’s film firmly embodies the classic saying what goes around comes around as Bradley’s peer group faces the angry and hateful return of Darren Mullet from his shallow grave. Here the resulting horror is drenched in blood, gore and screams as karma bites. Here the film’s young supporting cast, including Olly Alexander (Years and Years), Tuppence Middleton (The Current War)and Tom Hopper (The Umbrella Academy), shine through the blood and gore. 

Director: Jon Wright

Cast: Alex PettyferApril PearsonDimitri Leonidas, Calvin A. Dean, Tuppence Middleton, Olly Alexander, Tom Hopper

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