‘The Covenant’ a teen/witchcraft drama that lacks coherency
There’s something inherently attractive about what “The Covenant” should have been. You have intensely powerful magic, incredibly attractive leads and supporting cast, the distinct appeal of moneyed surroundings (think “Gossip Girl”) and the draw of high school drama. Sounds like the perfect mixture for a hit for the young adult crowd, right?
Well, even emotional and angsty teens aren’t going to contend with awfully expository dialogue, a shockingly lame script for such a subject matter and characters both leaden and lazy, “The Covenant” will you feeling distinctly magic-less.
Directed by Renny Harlin (“Deep Blue Sea”), “The Covenant” plays out like a teen horror movie. Well, at least it would if it had any particular frights. (One caveat: Spiders are disturbing no matter the movie, so be prepared for that.) Instead, we get a plot involving modern-day warlocks, which fails on nearly every level to attract its target audience.
Our tale of magic and mediocrity starts with a description of true witches and warlocks existing during the time of the Salem witch hunts. In order to protect themselves from murderous zealots, five families who settled New England in the 17th century formed a covenant. Their power would live on, but under a guise of normality.
Fast forward a couple of centuries, and we’re in modern New England. Now we have the descendants of four of the original families living in luxury, dealing with problems only those well-off contend with. Nicknamed the “Sons of Ipswich,” our buff-bodied leads possess magical powers capable of great feats. Such as looking up women’s skirt and fixing mirrors. Truly, what more could you ask for?
Still, there is some semblance of a plot. The leader of the group of warlocks, Caleb Danvers (Steven Strait) is dealing with a puberty-like issue: When he turns 18, the power he has will reach its true potential, and he will “ascend.” He’s the first in the group to have to deal with it, but it wouldn’t be a problem if he didn’t find a love interest at the obligatory start-of-the-school year beach party. Our leading lady, Sarah Wenham (Laura Ramsey), is about useless, but she does add a touch of humanity to all the magic flying around.
That magic, by the way? It causes you to age and die, so users beware. It’s that effect that introduces us to the group’s nemesis, Chase Collins (Sebastian Stan). To say anymore would give too much away, but you should figure it out pretty quickly.
Lots of ridiculous action scenes, alpha-boy showdowns and pyrotechnic explosions litter the rest of the film, mostly to little effect. Throw in some sexism and homophobia (at odds with the gratuitous amount of naked male torsos everywhere), and you have yourself one lackluster brew.
One magic-less star out of five.