It wouldn’t be easy for me to describe how exactly The Covenant is just failing on so many levels but so little of any worth actually ever takes place in such a film, it’s not even worthy of a laugh. As The Covenant kept going on, there was only one expression that ran down my face the whole way through as such a displeasing experience was only left to continue. If there is something about The Covenant that I’m at least thankful for, it would be the fact that it’s relatively short, because if this dreadful film had to last any longer I would have killed myself fast enough – a good summary right there of just how poor almost everything inside of The Covenant truly is.
Going into the story of the film will be hard enough for me to detail without the need to rip everything apart, but it’s something I already feel prompted to with the sheer ineptitude of the turn of events. Supposedly, The Covenant is a film about a group of teenage boys known as the “Sons of Ipswich” who posses magical powers. Immediately, the first thing that I could think of was that The Covenant was more or less The Craft if it were led by men. I was never a fan of The Craft either, but at least if there was something to The Craft that at least makes everything inherently better than The Covenant in terms of story, at least it had a nice flow all throughout and would stick to a sense of logic.
Complaints about deviations aside, so much else about The Covenant is so noticeably poor all around. The visual effects for one, are so shoddy from the get-go. What’s especially bothersome about the terrible visuals is just how the film seems to rely upon them as it keeps going, and during moments in which it is trying to be more serious in tone – it never delivers in said aspect all because of how unconvincing it all appears to be. That said, when a good number of the special effects rely upon just messing around with certain portions of the shot, it becomes clear that so little effort therein is being placed. You also have moments like a car crashing into a truck and then suddenly rebuilding itself afterward, but what effect comes out when the CGI that appears then is just so evidently lazy?
Renny Harlin’s direction is yet another thing that gets in the way – for while I believe he can direct a good action sequence (see The Long Kiss Goodnight for evidence of that), it is clear how detached he is from the material at hand in the case of The Covenant. He does not seem to know whom this film is for. If it had tried to be The Craft but with boys instead, the film plays far too much with the homoerotic overtones and can easily be found off-putting and for the female demographic, the first thing that can come to mind is that it all plays out like bad gothic fan fiction. Harlin seems as if he is only letting the bad outshine him in such a scenario to the point he succumbs to it so much, nothing plays out properly.
It would also be the fault of the script which we have here, which so noticeably is irksome because outside of terrible one-liners, there is never a sense of exploration with the character depth as sooner, the film seems more enamored within its own spectacle (as if there actually was any to begin with). The actors, who all are noticeably disinterested with the material that they have, also sink down to the very worst parts of the script that come in. One may argue for Sebastian Stan given that he at least seems to have moved forward by playing the Winter Soldier in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but watching him in here, one can only see how much he does not want to be present inside of such a shoddily made and structured film.
At the very least, The Covenant moved at a quick pace and was gracefully short, but that still was no excuse for the awfulness which it presented all around. The best description that I can come up with for it is that it is merely bad gothic fan fiction turned into a film – for it fails on just about every level possible whether it be from the acting, the suspense, or just the overall movement of anything. The saddest thing about it is that there’s also nothing to really laugh at with how terrible The Covenant is, because even with how quickly it moves, everything about it is so uninteresting much to the point it only hurts. I’d even say stick to The Craft, and I’m not so much a fan of said film.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via Screen Gems.
Directed by Renny Harlin
Screenplay by J. S. Cardone
Produced by Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg
Starring Steven Strait, Taylor Kitsch, Toby Hemingway, Chace Crawford, Sebastian Stan
Release Year: 2006
Running Time: 97 minutes