Looking for the Twilight zone, all you get are testosterone-fuelled pretty boys snarling their way through a macho version of The Craft. Some impressive special effects can’t disguise the vacuous, sub-Supernatural script. Unintentionally comic, courtesy of ham-fisted Finnish demolition-meister Renny Harlin.
Somewhere in Massachussets is the Ipswich Colony (which immediately destroys the movie for the Brits – we can’t take anything from Ipswich seriously), where, since 1692, a ‘covenant of silence’ has kept witchcraft from the world.
Now, in the present day, the teenage heirs of four ancient families of warlocks battle it out with the banished evil fifth son… meh.
The Covenant divides opinion. For some it’s an ideal check-your-brain-at-the-door, popcorn movie; for others, it’s in the ‘so bad it’s good’ category; for the rest, it’s teen-wallpaper fodder.
Harlin does have a flair for visual style and action, proven in The Long Kiss Goodnight, Cutthroat Island and the grammatically suspect Die Hard 2: Die Harder. Having failed to make anything of the twisted and twisty failure The Exorcist: The Beginning, Harlin goes for it again but ends up somewhere outside of Smallville. You just don’t care about any of the characters; too buff, too pretty, too rich and too spoilt to take pity on. Cool cars, cool clothes, hot girls and good hair. That about sums them up. Adolescent whining gives way to adolescent growling and fighting, which is itself hilarious since no one in the cast looks less than 25.
When action ramps up to the final battle of good versus evil, we’re solidly in X-Men and Smallville territory, as the teenage supermen trash everything in sight, smashing through anything vaguely wooden – all except Taylor Kitsch’s (John Carter) six-pack acting. It’s the props team I feel sorry for. Not two sticks left standing by the end.
Steven Strait and Toby Hemingway do their pantomime best to liven things up, but it’s dull, derivative, formulaic nonsense from start to finish. It’s not a thriller, as there’s no tension and no surprises to make it tense. It’s not a horror, as it’s not remotely scary. It’s not a supernatural, as it’s straight out of a comic book.
And the dialogue is unspeakable. At least, you wish it wasn’t spoken. The metal guitars are too loud to let you sleep through it but too quiet to drown it out altogether. Clearly somebody liked it – The Covenant 2 is out there somewhere. Pass me the Holy Water and a DVD of Practical Magic. SC
The Covenant (2005)
Director: Renny Harlin
Writer: J.S. Cardone
Certification: PG 13
Running time: 1 hr. 37 min.
Genre: Action, horror, fantasy
Cast: Steven Strait, Toby Hemingway, Taylor Kitsch, Chace Crawford, Sebastian Stan
Related: Man of Steel (2013)