The Covenant

  • Renny Harlin
  • 2006

Director Renny Harlin follows up the terrible The Exorcist: The Beginning with another no-brains movie: horror/action hybrid The Covenant. Its mix of typical late teen school life and mystical mumblings about ‘The Power’ are about as exciting as after school detention. You really will think you did something wrong to deserve to be put through this dire piece of work. Centring on a group of four brothers who essentially have special abilities that allow them to be teen wizards, it becomes a bit of a farce as scriptwriter J.S. Cardone seems to make up the story to best suit some flashy but uninspiring special effects and duel between rival wielders of ‘The Power’.

…does not aim much higher than its target audience of 12 to 18-year-olds, if at all.

Starting off with a prologue detailing that ‘The Power’ was last known to exist in the 1700s, it then fast-forwards to depict four teenage guys from the four remaining families with ‘The Power’ at an illegal woodland rave. The only one given any time to develop is Caleb (Steven Strait), a high-flyer who it turns out will be the first to ‘Ascend’: when he reaches 18 years of age he will become more powerful at the expense of his body eroding away with every use. Up until now, like the others, he has been free to use his magical abilities at will — that will soon end. At the rave they meet two new students: the hot, but smart, chick Sarah (Laura Ramsey) and the unassuming, friendly smart guy Chase (Sebastian Stan). When Caleb pairs off with Laura, someone starts using their ‘Power’ to scare her, prompting suspicion among the families as to who is abusing their legacy and risking exposure. It emerges there is another who has ‘The Power’…who could it be?

The Covenant does not aim much higher than its target audience of 12 to 18-year-olds, if at all, resulting in a dull and lifeless affair peppered by CGI-enhanced set pieces. The Caleb/Sarah romance is fine, but the rules about ‘The Power’ and how it works is given little detail so the story assumes that you will accept what it throws at you. A rather odd addition of dead people appearing is never explained, and beyond the two leads no one gets to do or say very much. It is also unclear exactly what good ‘The Power’ is if it kills you through overuse — but I’m sure anyone who enjoys this film will just find the whole experience ‘cool’. Subtexts such as dealing with maturity, so often found in horror stories, are touched upon but forgotten by the time it comes to the disappointing finale which further bends the rules set down before it. Dumb, but no fun either.

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