If nothing else, The Covenant is a testament to successful — albeit misleading — advertising. From the trailers, The Covenant looks like a sexy supernatural thriller, a cross between The Craft and The Lost Boys, about four attractive young men — born from a family of witches — with extraordinary powers, who must confront an ancient rival right before their 18th birthday. Pretty cool, huh?
Upon father investigation, we learn the MPAA rated The Covenant PG-13 for "intense sequences of violence and action, some disturbing images, sexual content, partial nudity and language." What more can you ask for in a guilty pleasure? With alleged intense action, sex appeal, and supernatural qualities, The Covenant just has to be a treat for the senses—right?
Not quite. Article continues below
These "intense sequences of action and violence" are unintentionally hilarious — not taut. There's nothing intense about characters leaping around like tree frogs and hurling transparent balls of laser liquid at their opponents… even when a character catches a ball of laser liquid, supercharges it, and throws it back at his opponent, hurling him into barn stalls. And the "sexual content" and "brief nudity" are not what you are probably expecting, either.
The "witch boys" are friends Caleb (Steven Strait
), Pogue (Taylor Kitsch
), Tyler (Chase Crawford
), and Reid (Toby Hemingway
), all descendants of the families that founded a Massachusetts witch colony in the 17th century. They're all seniors at a private high school, and as they approach their 18th birthdays, they prepare to "ascend." (That's a fancy way of saying they are becoming mature "witch boys," and will have more powers.) This means they can continue using their powers for recreational cliff jumping and to create breezes that will lift girls' dresses.
As school begins, Caleb meets Sarah (Laura Ramsey
), a pretty transfer student, and Chase (Sebastian Stan
), another transfer. Instantly, he falls for Sarah and befriends Chase. They all hang out and become close. Soon, however, strange things start happening at the school — someone is abusing their witch powers — and Caleb draws suspicious about Chase. Indeed, he is a witch boy too, and he intends to steal Caleb's powers.
The Covenant's cast is definitely hot (they can't act worth beans, but they are good looking), and the film will draw audiences based on sex appeal… but there's nothing sexy about this film, despite what the ratings board says. Don't get me wrong — there are half-naked male underwear models admiring each other's boding at the swimming pool, and whipping each other with towels in locker rooms. So, if you're looking for homoerotic tension and awkward male-on-male moments, this film delivers. But there's hardly any female skin, and no steamy moments between female/male leads… something that's sure to anger patrons who see the film based on sex appeal.
Clearly, director Renny Harlin
has lost his mind. His last film (Mindhunters) wasn't as taut as his early work (Cliffhanger, Die Hard 2), but The Covenant is a new low — one of the year's worse movies. What potential did Harlin see when he agreed to direct? Actually, considering the film doesn't move in any direction and instead wanders without much aim at all, I wonder if he had any involvement, or if the producers just paid him and slapped his name on the credits in order to avoid a straight-to-video release.
Or maybe they marketed the film to him with the same appeal as they did us. Damn… the power of good advertising.