The Covenant (2006) / Horror-Fantasy

MPAA Rated: PG-13 for violence, disturbing images, sexual content, partial nudity, and language
Running Time: 97 min.

Cast: Steven Strait, Sebastian Stan, Laura Ramsey, Taylor Kitsch, Toby Hemingway, Jessica Lucas, chace Crawford, Wendy Crewson, Stephen McHattie
Director: Renny Harlin
Screenplay: J.S. Cardone
Review published September 12, 2006

The Covenant is a very predictable but good looking film that, like most films directed by Renny Harlin (Mindhunters, Deep Blue Sea), offers a great deal of eye-candy and explosiveness in place of story logic and believable characterizations.  It's not unwatchable, but neither is it particularly interesting; it's the kind of movie that you might actually watch more than once in your lifetime, not because it is entertaining, but it's so forgettable, you will probably not remember having seen it mere months after sitting to view it.

In the film, the "sons of Ipswich" are the four young men that represent the bloodlines of their respective families that have carried something over generations known as "The Power".  The Power gives the men supernatural abilities to control things with their minds with acute precision, but it does come at a price: use of The Power can become addicting, and with overuse, it ages the body of the person using it.

Caleb (Strait, Sky High) is the leader of the quartet, and the most powerful.  When the Sons turn 18, their power increases exponentially, and he is just on the verge.  Things change for the boys with the arrival of two new students; one is an attractive and spirited girl named Sarah (Ramsey, Venom) and the other a cocky, mysterious orphan named Chase (Stan).  It seems someone around town has been using The Power to do some evil deeds, but with all four known sons of Ipswich denying involvement, just who, or what, could it be?

Movies like this rarely make much sense, and The Covenant certainly doesn't even try.  The reasons for The Power, the origins of it, and how it all works are never really clear, so we are forced to go with the flow of things for the sake of potential entertainment.  Things don't always have to make sense; I enjoyed Highlander and I still can't tell you exactly what the whole purpose of those powers are all about.  However, Highlander had a certain haunting atmosphere and mystery about it that The Covenant lacks, and certainly featured cooler characters and a more interesting storyline.

There probably is an audience out there for a movie like The Covenant, and that audience probably consists of younger viewers that enjoy campy teen horror films like The Lost Boys and The Craft, both films from which The Covenant seems to crib without much effort to hide.  In fact, it's almost identical to The Craft is you switch the genders, switch the scary creatures from snakes to spiders, and The Covenant sounds like "The Coven" (as in "coven of witches").  Then there is a character named "Sarah" and one named "Tunney" (Robin Tunney played the good witch Sarah in The Craft).  Even the posters for both films are uncannily similar.     

The actors are cast based more on looks than talent, the special effects are (if nothing else) well-rendered, and there is a kinetic energy produced by the hard-driving rock soundtrack and music video-style editing -- surface pleasures strictly for people that don't want to have to think while watching their schlocky, b-movie fare.  If you don't fall into this category, you should probably make a covenant with yourself to avoid this glossy nothing of a movie, at least until they make it the popular TV show it seems destined to become.

Qwipster's rating:

2006 Vince Leo