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|By AARON SKETCHLEY (aaronsketch@HOTdelete_thisMAIL.com)||Ver 1.2 2021.11.03|
Deep Blue Sea is the right blend of thrills, chills, and—most importantly—intelligence. It also has a surprising amount of self-awareness, with a lot of that provided by LL Cool J's character: cook Sherman "Preacher" Dudley. His is an intriguing mix of common sense and religion. The other characters are more or less standard for this kind of movie, but they are all performed equally well.
Nevertheless, the film is a great ride because it keeps throwing unexpected twists and turns in an original setting ("We go down to get up.") The film is also surprising as it kills off the apparently sacrosanct characters unexpectedly. Add to that the unpredictability of human-intelligence enhanced sharks, and one is in for a wild ride!
During lunch break, Conner discovers a strange cocoon-like creature on the football field. Accompanied by Profitt, Rosado, Tyler, Hutchinson, and Mitchell—who has a crush on Rosado—Conner shows it to the science teacher, who believes it to be a new species. They all observe that not only does the creature rehydrate and grow in water, but it is capable of self-replication and has a hunger for human flesh! Later, Conner and Profitt sneak into the teachers' lounge to find a story. However, they witness the football coach and another teacher force one of the creatures that Conner discovered into the school nurse, who apparently dies. In their panic, they also discover the corpse of Mrs. Brummel in the closet they were hiding in! The teenagers flee, and call the police. However, Conner and Profitt's claims are dismissed, and they now have the full attention of whatever or whoever is behind the strange happenings at the school!
The Faculty is a unique film. On the one hand, it has an all-star cast and an A-list director. However, it's story is firmly in B movie territory. That said, Robert Rodriguez has plenty of fun with the film, throwing in reference after reference to other films. In fact, part of the fun is trying to identify the classic horror movies in which you first saw a particular special effect or other reference. Perhaps the highlight of this film is Rodriguez's subversive style of film making that makes the movie smart, without taking itself too seriously.
The only drawback to the film is the low quality 90's CG animation in the later parts of the film. They weren't exactly good at the time, and have a tendency to knock the viewer out of the film. Nevertheless, what the film gets right is the portrayal of teenage alienation in high school. This is something that the heroes have a hard time overcoming even when they have to start working together to save the day. It's thought provoking that part of the horror element comes from the protagonists being forced into a world were everyone is the same and gets along, but at the cost of their freedom and individuality.
Another thought provoking aspect is the film's reinvention of the fear of female sexuality. All the girls and women in the film subtly or overtly reveal their hidden sexuality and become more sexually aggressive after being taken over by the invaders. On the other hand, the teenagers in the film have to come to terms with and overcome their fear of the apparently 'monstrous' aspects of female sexuality—in order to become adults and save the day. It's especially telling that the ultimate hero of the film is the male character closest to his feminine side.
What strikes you first is the beautiful cinematography of the countryside that seems like the film is a recreation of autumnal scenes by famous painters. In addition, the colour pallet starts extremely muted—almost monochrome—and grows in breadth and intensity as Crane's journey sees him evolve and acquire a more well-rounded view of the world.
The movie is populated by a pantheon of well known actors and actresses. Admittedly, when I first saw the film I was only aware of a small portion of them. However, decades of film appreciation later, I recognize most of them and can appreciate Dir. Burton's genius at helping the viewer differentiate between the rather large number of similar villagers with them.
The film earns its frights, and has a creepy feeling throughout. There is some gore—making it unsuitable for younger viewers—but it is much more like the stuff seen in a CSI investigation than it is a slasher film.
The only drawback is that the film is a little unclear on who did what for whom in the conspiracy. Nevertheless, the film makes up for that with very clear depictions of the ringleader's motivations and how that person came to be able to control the Headless Horseman.