Covenant, The (2006)

The Covenant Review (Click for larger image)Starring Steven Strait, Sebastian Stan, Jessica Lucas, Laura Ramsey

Directed by Renny Harlin

Welcome to a very special world premiere on the WB of … The Covenant! Four childhood friends live a life of decadence and power we could only dream of, but the coming of a new power threatens to destroy them all. Will their friendship, love of hair product, and metrosexual clothing be enough to save them? WILL THE COVENANT SURVIVE??!!

That would have been the commercial had this been a new teen drama premiering this fall on the WB … as it should have been. Instead, the brothers of “Supernatural” get to keep the cover of Tiger Beat to themselves and we are treated with another super sanitized “horror” film slapped with the scarlet PG-13 in the hopes it will shake loose all the change from its teen victims. Will it succeed? Probably. It’s practically a Gap commercial. How could that fail?

Coming home from a movie, my first step to reviewing it is generally to hit Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB to see what people were expecting and read the movie breakdowns. I was surprised to find that on both sites the movie synopsis was completely wrong. This makes no sense as the commercials and trailer say it all. Four friends — Caleb, Reid, Tyler and Pogue — take time off from working the soaps and forming that new boy band for the Disney Channel to attend college and hit on the ladies. The boys are fueled by a dark power that could consume them, should they tap into it too often. Just when they think this is the beginning and end of their concerns, a new power surfaces and quickly infiltrates every aspect of their lives. What’s a guy to do?

The Covenant review (click for more!)First off, I have to say there’s nothing I like more than watching some ridiculously flawless, rich kids in peril. Seriously; I’m instantly sucked in and hope for their rescue! Of course I’m being sarcastic. I’m sure the 14-year-old girls in the audience will drool to their heart’s content as the lead characters practice on the swim team, while their 16-year-old boyfriends ogle countless scenes of the girls discussing the day’s events in their underwear. Unfortunately, this is the meat of the movie. Caleb (Steven Strait) and Pogue (Taylor Kitsch) handle the bulk of the conversation, hoping to unravel the mystery of this new impending doom as they strike actor poses in sleeveless shirts and relaxed fit jeans. Sons of Shatner, UNITE FOR JUSTICE!! At any given moment the movie could have dissolved into an overdub of a narrator from “Project Runway” saying, “Caleb is fighting evil today in distressed denim and a tight basic black t-shirt, proving that simple themes can battle back bad fashion anyday! (Caleb strikes a pose and broods).”

Meanwhile, back at the dorms, Kate (Jessica Lucas) and Sarah (Laura Ramsey) mirror “Naked News” as they ponder the motivations of their men while finding reasons to disrobe or just sit around in their underwear. No wonder guys think you all do this in real life. Way to propagate the myth, Renny.

You won’t find any standout performances in the whole film, just various levels of mediocre. Most of the actors on hand seem to be phoning it in while the film’s mystery bad guy dishes out some horribly corny puns to cap off his over-the-top performance.

Now my hope had been that this would be the kind of film where you could turn off your brain and just watch some super powered kiddies slug it out in a CGI bonanza. Unfortunately, the bulk of the trailer’s action doesn’t go down until the last quarter of the film and comes off as anticlimactic. It’s just a case of too little too late with a side order of I can’t seem to care about any of these people.

The Covenant review (click for more!)It’s a given that director Renny Harlin was trying to create a vibe of Lost Boys meets The Craft with moody settings, secret meeting places riddled with candles, and even outdoor partying with teens gyrating to today’s most badass music. The sets are wet with emo rain, clouded in ethereal mist, and made creepy only by the absence of people. The funny thing is, while Renny seemed to want to recapture the feel of Lost Boys and The Craft, he missed out on making his own brand of frantic, super cheesy blockbuster! Let’s face it: This is no Die Hard 2 and it’s a long way from Deep Blue Sea.

After you leave the movie’s opening scene, which you’ve already been taken through in the trailer, the movie slows to a moody crawl, slinking its way through endless discussion and spooky imagery that misses its mark. It may be creepier than The Wicker Man ’06 at times, but we all know that’s not saying much at this point. That last 20 minutes of the film see a return to a faster pace, but by that point the movie is over and you’re left feeling this was just a series of missed opportunities.

You won’t find the quirky evil and black B-movie humor of The Lost Boys. You’ll even become nostalgic for the high levels of witchy bitchiness and slight character development of The Craft. Wow, I just realized … The Covenant is the perfect evolution of those two films, poured into a mold crafted by company execs and marketing gurus. Each one was more squeaky clean and trendy than the last. I blame society.

What’s left to say? If you’ve seen the full trailer for The Covenant, well, you’ve seen just about all this movie has to offer. Again, I’m fully confident that a PG-13 and a promise of dreamy witch-boys will equal a strong box office, but the horror crowd hoping for, at the very least, a little CGI psychic carnage will be disappointed. The Covenant is bloodless, creepless, and depthless. Is that last one even a word? Regardless, it’s just lacking. Let the kiddies have the theater for the night and go spend your money on another round of Snakes on a Plane or even Crank. Both are high on my list for mindless entertainment. You’ve even got the option of seeking out the comic this movie says it was made from. It’s bound to be more fun than this film.

2 out of 5

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And for another point of view in full-color comic style, don’t miss
Rick Tremble’s take on the film in Motion Picture Purgatory!

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Jon Condit