The Covenant Review

The first fifteen minutes of The Covenant don't exactly fill you with anticipation. After an incredibly tacky opening credit sequence, we're introduced to the Sons of Ipswich: four rich, handsome, high school seniors from New England who share the same gift: the power of witchcraft, which runs in their blue-blooded families. And what do these boys do with this awesome, supernatural talent? They cause the school bullies to puke over each other, they make their car fly to elude the cops and they spy on girls in the shower. Oh dear, I thought, this is going to be like The Craft meets The Lost Boys but much, much worse.

Then, surprisingly, The Covenant improves. The script by JS Cardone drops the American Pie-style pranks and develops the plot and the characters more interestingly than you might expect. At least it develops the hero, Caleb (Steven Strait), the nicest and most sensitive of the Sons of Ipswich. He tries to keep his more headstrong pals from using their powers in public, he senses a disturbance in the witch force and tries to discover who's causing it and, in his free time, he gets involved with Sarah (Laura Ramsey), the new babe at school.

The movie creates an enjoyably silly mythology, tracing the witches' bloodlines back to the Salem witch trials and beyond, and giving them problems and weaknesses so they're not just hunks with magic powers. Developed a bit further, the mythology here could probably inspire a successful television series, in the tradition of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, ie: good looking young stars + hip jokes + supernatural angle. After all, Buffy began with a pretty mediocre movie.

And unfortunately, in the final act, The Covenant does descend back into mediocrity. The plot climaxes with a showdown between two witches and after all the build-up it gets, the big battle is simply hopeless. Witch fighting apparently consists of hurling balls of CGI energy at your opponent and knocking them through the air, sort of like the fighters in the old Mortal Kombat video games. All that's missing from the ending is a deep voice announcing, "Fatality!"

Director Renny Harlin directs his first teen horror film since A Nightmare On Elm Street 4 capably enough. He gets points for not pretending this is anything other than exploitation, dressing his attractive male and female characters in towels or their underwear as often as possible. However, he loses a few of those points for continuing to use the kind of cheap, crappy CGI effects that marred Deep Blue Sea and ruined Driven.

Overall

5

out of 10
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Category Film Review

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