Friday, September 08, 2006

The Covenant

Directed by Renny Harlin
Written by J.S. Cardone

The Covenant is one big cheat of a movie, and I'm not even talking about its PG-13 rating which makes a lot of horror lame. Here's the premise: teenagers descended from four families of witches discover their powers when they become thirteen. These powers are, well, whatever the hell they want them to be. Why not? Why have any rules whatsoever? OK, so there's one rule--every time the power is used, the body ages. Not that this kind of thing is explored in detail at all in The Covenant--a fun little rule like that could have done wonders for this flick if it had decided to, um, actually make it important.

In Renny Harlin's umpteenth B-movie (the man got his break with Nightmare on Elm Street 4), our main character is Caleb Danvers (Steven Strait) who, among his powerful group, is about to "ascend" when he turns eighteen and get...even more power! His father, we are told, got hooked to his power and used it too often, and tragedy befell him--and as mother Evelyn (Wendy Crewson) reminds him several times, he's just like his father. He meets Ali Larter lookalike Sarah (Laura Ramsey) and it looks like ascending is going to be a beautiful thing. Only problem is, there's a fifth bloodline in the witch families that was thought to have died in the Salem Witch Trials, and of course that is proved incorrect with the arrival of Chase Collins (Sebastian Stan), who uses his power in the way that the movie can make some sort of statement about drugs and addiction. Chase has already ascended but he's been using too much, and he wants Caleb to transfer his own ascended powers to him--else he kills the girl.

Cheating was the word that kept coming to mind. A particularly scary sequence is a dream. Those crazy-ass monsters you see in the trailer, called "darklings" have nothing to do with anything, other than to make the characters call each other on the phone and talk about how weird it is that these darklings are showing up. The whole "use powers and age exponentially" thing is totally false--Chase is made out to be some power junkie but ages not one whit the entire movie--so that rule is a bunch of bunk except for a convenient plot point. And those powers--well, if you can do anything you want, can you make a rock so heavy you yourself can't lift it? Powers that do anything and have no specificity are boring.

This movie also has yet another hot girl taking a shower and something scary happens. I know Hitchcock's Psycho is a masterwork, but do we have to copy this convention in every single movie? And if there's no nudity, seriously, what's the point? It's a tease for no reason. Help a brother out, here.

Yeah, so can you tell that I thought this movie sucked royally?


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