The Covenant

Director: Renny Harlin

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Taking the perspective that the Salem witchcraft trials regarded actual witches rather than the innocent victims history has so well documented, The Covenant (2006) is a faux-hip juvenile tale of sorcery in America.

A group of standard-issue teenage boys are warlocks descended from three centuries of witches. A starring cast of party-boys is fairly lame stuff to start with, & the script does nothing to upgrade them.

The CovenantThe story borrows from H. P. Lovecraft via other films that borrow from H. P. Lovecraft, without knowing anything in particular about the original source material.

Set in Ipswich instead of HPL's Dunwich, the lads possess the rather banal sounding Book of the Damned rather than The Neronomicon or The Book of Shadows.

Everything about the film is borrowed or stolen, hence all too familiar. The only possible way it could get a tiny bit interesting is if our so-called heroes the "sons of Ipswhich" were soon picked off one by one, just to be rid of them.

A car chase accompanied by bad rock & roll keeps the story dumber & dumbest, concluding with a "flying car" to get away from the cops. Shades of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, is this film for tweens or preschoolers? A "growed up" reference to Harry Potter's ass is tossed in as a jest, not the least witty, though it is not surprising these twinky lads are interested in Harry Potter's rear end.

I nearly gave up entirely when it got to the "threaten the showering naked babe" cliche & the suspense was so successful I almost fell asleep.

There's some vague crap about teenage boys "ascending" at age eighteen & achieving limitless powers, which nowhere in the story appear particular limitless. The four lads have reached the age where they are about to come into their powers, an event that can destroy them or empower them. I was voting destroy.

There are somewhat lovecraftian "darklings" lurking about which amount to badly designed CGI ghosts. They're kind of the McGuffins since they never do have much to do with anything. More importantly there's a secret Fifth Son of Ipswich who is bad to the bone.

The Covenant Plus there's some evil Spider Spells used against the story's banal Damsels in Distress, confirming that this story was written from the point of view of an eleven year old boy who has his first crush on a girl & deals with it by chasing her around the playground with a spider.

The beefcake casting, however, is so gay that it's hard to believe any of these guys' painfully superficial relationships with girls are anything but closety cover-up. In support of this impression, the girls get their faces diseased, but the beefcake boys, importantly minors, are preserved as splendid chickenhawk bait to the end.

None of these guys are as romantically sexy as David Boreanaz in his youthful prime on Angel so these blandly beautiful young men don't have Boreanaz's degree of girl-appeal. But they would be premo for aging chickenhawks.

It could go as a footnote that when I first jotted down the above rude notes, I hadn't known The Convenant had already been widely tagged as "another gay subtext hunky high school boy horror movie" & as "homoerotic teen escapism" which was "cast for the abs not the acting," therefore "boys get rough-housed in the gym shower" whereas girls are alone & anonymously stalked in a shower.

The fault with such chickenhawk-aesthetic in casting & presentation is not that gay is bad -- as a dyke myself I would never think so -- but that such casting has resulted in a bunch of boys who are interchangeable & ultra-shallow & not even aimed at the largest common denominator.

Unless indeed adolescent boys with bigger crushes on their boyhood chums rather than on any girls is the largest audience for bad horror films. Even at that I still think the casting would appeal much more to revolting old chickenhawks hanging around the alley door of the Boy's Club, & not to the boys themselves.

The Covenant The Covenant has the look & tone of a television show, kind of Supernatural with its brother-team of demon slayers, crossed with Charmed but with heritage-bound boys instead of heritage-bound women.

There's a cool CGI car crash used in the trailer & its the closest thing to something visually interesting in the whole first third of the show, so if you've seen the trailer, you can skip to a half-hour in & save some time.

"Using" the power is addictive & it takes a bit of one's life each time. The Fifth Son is trying to steal power from the other four because he's a super-addict on the cusp of becoming worn out & old, & he hopes to recharge his lifespan by conquering other warlocks, which we're assured throughout can't actually be done but the Fifth Son won't accept that.

Caleb (Steven Strait) is the least snarky of the group of four, though he's not much to write home about. At least he has some sense of doing right.

His opposite is Chase (Sebastian Stan), secretly the Fifth. He starts mucking with the others, but Caleb figures it out, & the last act is straightforward Wizard vs. Wizard. The FX resemble any number of episodes of Smallville but with a story so mediocre that whenever it was done on Smallville or Charmed the episode was buried mid-season because inadequate for for season end or sweeps.

Get a purer H. P. Lovecraft fix by continuing to:
The H. P. Lovecraft Collection Volume 1: Cool Air (2004)

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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