By EW Staff
Updated April 19, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT
Bruce Birmelin

CELEBRATED INK-STAINED wretch Williamson makes his directorial debut with this feature film about a wrong-side-of-the-tracks high schooler (Holmes, star of Williamson’s WB drama ”Dawson’s Creek”) whose scholarship is jeopardized by a sub-par grade. Being conscientious, she helps take her straight-out-of-Hades teacher (Mirren) hostage. ”It sounds absurd and sort of ‘Omigod, um, what?’ ” laughs Holmes. ”But little things build and build and at every moment [the characters] make the best decision possible.”

Despite the filmmaker’s horror pedigree, ”Teaching Mrs. Tingle” is more akin to ”Fast Times at Ridgemont High” than to ”A Nightmare on Elm Street.” ”It’s more like a screaming comedy,” says Williamson. ”That’s how they’re billing it, I think. They just had to get ‘Scream’ in there somewhere.” Not that there isn’t any blood: Tingle culminates in a series of scenes involving everything from crossbows to a gory catfight between Mirren and Holmes. ”The funniest thing about the scene is that the whole time they’re slamming each other, I’m tied to the bed,” laughs Watson, who plays Holmes’ love interest — and is just another victim of Williamson’s bizarre bondage fetish. ”So I’m thinkin’, All right! People pay good money to see this kind of stuff!”