"Heterosexual director Renny (DIE HARD 2, DEEP BLUE SEA) Harlin has inexplicably slipped over to the other side with his boy-band-of-witches saga, THE COVENANT. He has taken a bunch of Aberzombies, put them in some sort of prep school and given them supernatural powers, forced them to join the swim team, and thrown a few disposable girls in for good measure. And at no point does the plot of the film or the acting interfere with the camera's view of said Aberzombies' abs.
This tale of the "Sons of Ipswitch", the gifted descendants of the founding fathers of Salem, moves along fairly briskly, with some decent effects and fun stunt work, but first and foremost, the real object of the film is to linger lasciviously upon the admirable assets of young, unironically-named Steven Strait. Seriously - the witchcraft, spiders, explosions, raves, and everything else take humble second-stage to loving shots of Strait rocking a tanktop, Strait rocking a tight v-neck t-shirt, Strait wearing a Speedo. We haven't seen male body-worship on this scale since Ryan Reynolds battled evil spirits that threatened to keep him wet and shirtless for Amityville Horror's entire running time.
Strait plays Caleb, a member of an elite band of underwear models who have gone undercover as witches at a prep school in Massachusetts. (You know, so as not to attract attention). Aside from Caleb, there's the long-haired one, the blonde one, and another one who evades description entirely, to the point that it's impossible to identify him in any group scenes. The Metrosexual trickle-down has apparently left our high schools populated by an army of pomade-enhanced, cap-sleeved man-boys who are so self-approvingly pretty that the girls in their lives can do very little to distract them from their vaguely homoerotic navel-gazing. (Whereas DAZED & CONFUSED presented teen angst in a haze of pot smoke, here it is clouded by an overabundance of Axe Body Spray.)
The plot of the film was summed up well enough in the commercials (and is ultimately too mind-numbingly simplistic to get into) -- the important thing is that in this teen witch story, the witches are the popular kids. Rather than your typical "supernaturally enhanced underdog" story (CARRIE, THE CRAFT ), here we watch four rich, white boys who clearly dominate their school and also happen to enjoy a gift that allows them to perform magic. But, watching these kids get everything they want is not nearly as compelling as watching someone who actually NEEDS this power to get back at their enemies or overturn the status quo.
The overwhelming homoeroticism of THE COVENANT includes a scene where Caleb and his best bud Pogue are talking on the phone, and both are shirtless, lying in bed, and drenched with sweat. We seriously expected the words "MEET LOCAL GUYS!" to flash across the top of the screen. There's also some locker room action featuring buns galore and a gay-baiting incident where another young man gets called a "fag" by a different long-haired boy (seriously, it's so hard to tell these guys apart...) and the young man beats his tormenter down - without actually denying the accusation. (Interestingly enough, he even makes reference to looking at the kid's manhood.) At another point an evil Aberzombie pins Caleb to the floor and kisses him on the face roughly -- In a FEAR NO EVIL kind of way, only with far more attractive men involved.
So if you are looking for a satisfying all-male companion piece to the excellent teen-witch thriller THE CRAFT, keep waiting. This isn't it... If - however - you are looking for a warm-up to wet your guests appetites as they arrive for All-Male Porno night, look no further - Renny Harlin has done an admirable job. "
Lots of Lightning & Dark Clouds
Lee Armstrong | Winterville, NC United States | 09/19/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Finnish director Renny Hurlin has helmed numerous pictures since re-locating to Hollywood. Among them are "Mindhunters," "Exorcist: The Beginning AKA Exorcist 4," "Die Hard 2," & "The Long Kiss Goodnight" with Geena Davis & Samuel L. Jackson. Enjoying pictures with a bit of magic, the supernatural or paranormal, "The Covenant" was a film I liked. Screenwriter J.S. Cardone who's done quite a few "B" flicks including "The Forsaken" & "The Marksman" perhaps has a few too many characters floating in & out, but delivers enough story to let the actors show their wares and the special effects folks to go crazy as they climax. Male model Steven Strait plays Caleb Danvers. Strait was previously in "Sky High" & "Undiscovered" & plays the lead Son of Ipswitch in this film. He comes across as a sympathetic good guy who treats his mother well, resists the dark side & likes the pretty girl. Taylor Kitsch who was in "John Tucker Must Die" plays Pogue Perry, another of the sons. In his first film, Toby Hemingway bares his backside in the boys' locker room and otherwise comes across as a rebellious teenager that we suspect as the bad guy for the middle part of the film. Sebastian Stan in his first film -- a "Law & Order" episode being a previous credit -- plays the good-looking heavy Chase Collins who comes back to exact revenge on behalf of his ancestors. He picks a fight in the locker room and makes jokes about the size of Aaron Abbott's private anatomy, which is a good way to pick a fight in a guy's locker room. Kyle Schmid who was in "A History of Violence" plays the tough looking teen who can't withstand the magical punch of Collins. When Collins knocks out lead Caleb Danvers in a swimming contest with a bit of the evil eye, the duel is set. The two female leads who were both in "She's the Man" are Laura Ramsey who plays Sarah Wenham, Caleb's fancy and Jessica Lucas who plays Pogue's sweetheart Kate Tunney. Chase shows what a bad guy he is with legions of spider tricks to bite and sideline the girls. There are several scary scenes including a "Psyco"-like shower scene where the demonic blur breaks a light bulb and a glazed-eye darkling keeps popping up in the Sons of Ipswitch's dreams. The Spencer Academy serves as a gothic setting filled with lots of rain, lightning and dark clouds. When the climactic match occurs and Sarah floats amid a flaming barn, Caleb's mother Evelyn heads off to plead with Daddy Danvers to strengthen his boy's powers during the magical duel. Wendy Crewson who has a long list of TV & film credits including a lead in the Canadian film "Suddenly Naked," "Bicentennial Man," & "To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday" plays the mother. The film roars to its climax with Collins' body disappearing to leave just enough room for a sequel should this film do well at the box-office. There are a lot of fresh faces -- not to mention fresh behinds -- in this film to probably launch a couple of careers as we look back a few years from now. It's not a complex plot, but it was well done. Enjoy!"
Supernatural showdown in New England!
Eddie Lancekick | Pacific Northwest | 01/03/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The covenant comes across at times like a "Lost Boys" for the 21st century. Teenage kids with uncanny powers wrapped in centuries of secrecy and legend is not a new theme, but given the modern day special effects that are added to the plate, it wasn't as cliché' as I thought it would be.
The film at times seems a bit weak in the execution of the story behind "The Covenant" itself. At times it almost seems a bit "choppy" as we are hurriedly thrown from one scene to the next, while trying to catch the clues that tie together the past of "The Covenant" so that the present day setting makes sense. What makes up for my minor criticism is a flurry of intense fighting scenes and special effects that really bring out the power of the characters that are wielding them. Throw in scenes of gothic architecture against a full moon and lots of fog, and "The Covenant" has almost all the ingredients for a great supernatural thriller.
Plot: The setting is a prep school in New England. A new student has entered Spencer Academy, which also has four young men enrolled who share a sacred secret known only to them. Generations before, five families from the Ipswich Colony of Massachusetts formed a covenant to protect their great powers in secrecy. Considering all the "witch hunting" going on back then, who could blame them? One of the families got "greedy" with the power and abused it, garnering eventual banishment from the others. Now in the present day, a new student has shown up that may have more in common with the other four boys than they realize...
A young group of actors are presented as the characters of the story. One of the more recognizable is Taylor Kitsch, who is a regular on the current TV series "Friday Night Lights". The one actor that stands out more than any of them however, is Sebastian Stan playing the part of the new student Chase Collins. Stan does an excellent job brining a half Joker half macabre type presence within this character, and its his ability to show a young man in states of greed, selfishness and rage that helps make his character stand out against an otherwise GQ crowd of cardboard cutouts.
Bullet stop action (the only way I've heard this kind of effect used, you know, like the Matrix guys stopping to drink a cup of coffee when a bullet slowly slithers by) scenes coupled with an Edgar Allen Poe kind of landscape help counter the movies sometimes-disconnected execution in a somewhat linear storyline. Not a blockbuster by any means but considering how many movies of this genre fall below the mediocre level, The Covenant does okay to hold its own."
Nothing at all
Madelaine Altman | 09/13/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I dont feel that this film was reminiscent of The Craft. Yes it involved boys with powers but the story was completely different. i just feel that it is insulting that it was said to be a "guy version of the craft." I do agree that is wasnt the most fantastic movie out there but i loved this movie. LOVED. i was very pleased with the acting and the plot. a little underdeveloped and at times, cheesey but all in all i would spend money to see it more than once. Steven Strait really had an opportunity to showcase his talent in this film and all the other guys did well in their rolls. Watching the movie made me giddy...almost as though i was drunk on the power in the film. did i mention i loved it? getting to see all the sons of ipswich in their speedo moments didnt hurt. I didnt like the choice of Laura Ramsey to play the leading female, shes great for teen comedies but i thought she did a shabby job as a serious role. I feel that with a little more development this film could have done very very well in the box office. I know i hate to see movies i love get bashed by the press or not do too well cash wise but look at it this way, Kingdom of Heaven *directed by sir ridley scott* did badly in theatres as well but it is an amazing film. epic. romantic. well done. AMAZING. The Covenant. amazing movie. great acting. words cant tell you how much i crave for it to get 5 stars the world over."
AIROLF | USA | 12/06/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Touted as the new millenium's The Lost Boys, this movie is undeserving of such comparison. The soundtrack is smashing and the actors are all good-looking, but there is no witty dialogue or humorous subplots. The special effects are decent, but are more reminiscent of a high budget show (Heroes, The Dresden Files) than of a movie. About the best thing this movie has going for it is a one-line joke about Harry Potter. "