The Covenant
You CAN light a fart!

Theatrical Release Date: 09/08/2006
Director: Renny Harlin
Cast: Steven Strait, Laura Ramsey, Sebastian Stan

“Harry Potter can kiss my ass.”

That is just a taste of the brilliant dialogue in this gem of a film.

If “brilliant” meant derivative and asinine.

If “gem” meant crappy, dull re-imagining of every teen thriller you have ever seen.

You get my point.

The Covenant is a film about four wizards that fight against many dangers, not the least of which being the temptation to misuse their own seductive powers.

Sound vaguely familiar? I thought so.

Caleb, Pogue, Tyler, and Reid (Strait, Kitsch, Crawford, and Hemingway) are the descendants of four powerful wizarding families from the Ipswich Colony in Massachusetts. The fifth family was driven out of the colony when they broke a covenant of secrecy developed to avoid the scrutiny of the witch hunters over three hundred years ago.

At present, the powers that the teens have developed are basically being squandered, but they come with a price; misuse of magic prematurely ages them. So the “Sons of Ipswich” wander the town like rock stars, biding time until their 18th birthdays, when they will ascend and develop their true powers.

All is well until the arrival of two strangers; requisite hottie Sarah (Ramsey) and new guy Chase (Stan). As the newcomers are absorbed into the group, new relationships are forged, as well as new hostilities. Oh, and there is the little problem of the emergence of a new evil that threatens to destroy the whole lot of them.

Wow, my synopsis is better than the script!

If you can’t yet tell, I think the film was a train wreck. Or, as one of the characters might put it, OMG. That sucked.

Where to start? First of all, the plot. It is truly a bastardization of all things teen scream, both domestic and imported, as well as several action and fantasy films. Hank and I came up with at least 14 comparisons (it was more fun than watching the movie). Some of the biggest transgressions involved a serious aping of “The Craft” for plot points and “The Matri”x for the fight scenes. I do have to give props, however, to a ridiculously fabulous set-up for a barroom brawl right out of “Footloose”. I was waiting for Sarah Jessica Parker to run out and jump on somebody’s back.

So with all of this pirated drama, the movie was action-packed, right?

No.

There was no momentum. The movie never got going. Nothing was ever scary enough. We never become invested in the characters to the point that we actually care about what happens to them. The dialogue is stupid, the story arcs are thrown in haphazardly, and I found myself forgetting important plot points before they ever got around to resolving them.

The fight scenes were silly. The special effects were actually not bad, but what’s the point if they aren’t complimenting a quality story?

It’s the same with the acting. On the whole, the actors aren’t horrible. But their roles are so stereotyped and confining. We have two hot chicks (Ramsey and Lucas), roommates that prance around in tight clothes and only exist as a means for the bad guy to thwart their boyfriends. The boys are even more cookie-cutter; Pogue the hot brooder, Tyler the hot sidekick, Reid the hot rebel, and Caleb the hot leader. Toss in our hot new guy with a checkered past and they really don’t even have to talk; you already know the story. Most people probably don’t care because there is a little eye candy for everyone, but for some reason, I still wanted a plot.

Oh, well.

I could go on for hours about Harlin’s track record for making truly frightening films (only one, by my count, with Exorcist: The Beginning, and even that is debatable), or all of the generic plot devices and stolen ideas, continuity errors (Sarah has a tattoo- oh, no she doesn’t), and everything else that didn’t work. But really, I’m tired of writing, and you are probably tired of reading.

I give this film a one out of five. It only narrowly avoid getting the dreaded zero because it was fun to play “What movie is that part from?” with it. Now I return to the opening line of this review, quoting Reid the Rebel in regards to Harry Potter’s sexual preferences. Given the formidable presence of the Harry Potter Empire (not to mention its originality in an era sorely lacking relatively fresh ideas), I think it should go the other way around. The Sons of Ipswich would be lucky to lick young Potter’s boots.