Directed by Renny Harlin. Starring Steven Strait, Sebastian Stan, Laura Ramsey, Taylor Kitsch, Toby Hemingway, Jessica Lucas, Chace Crawford, Wendy Crewson, Stephen McHattie. (2006, PG-13, 97 min.)
REVIEWED By Josh Rosenblatt, Fri., Sept. 15, 2006
Surely nothing Hollywood did in its darkest, most debauched hour could possibly justify the penance we're paying that allows Harlin to continue directing movies. The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, Cutthroat Island, two – count 'em, two - Sylvester Stallone movies: Someone might have to die from exposure to one of this man's films before the Directors Guild of America realizes its mistake and revokes his membership. Until that day, we'll have to suffer more train wrecks like The Covenant, a sleek yet empty picture about four handsome high school seniors who possess supernatural powers and impossibly chiseled stomachs. These aspiring Calvin Klein models go by the name the Sons of Ipswich, and they are the latest descendents in a long line of New England witches who are sworn to a centuries-old covenant of silence, lest their sacred ancestry be discovered and they wind up boarding-school John Proctors in a real-life version of The Crucible. Blessed with money, looks, and power, the Sons, led by all-around good guy Caleb Danvers (Strait), live in an adolescent fantasy world of boundless popularity, fast cars, and stylishly disheveled hair, and they use their mystical gifts like any similarly blessed American teenage boys would: to get girls and elude the cops. Until, that is, a sinister new transfer student (Stan) possessing a scenery-chewing power all his own threatens to upset the supernatural balance in the universe and – even more horrible – make a play for Caleb's spot as captain of the swim team. Surely evil like that will not stand, or what's a covenant for? As for Harlin, his directing style never veers far from the modern blockbuster school of filmmaking, which teaches that when you lack a credible story, tolerable dialogue, or passable acting, the best thing is to rely on some second-rate special effects and hope that a jittery editing style will distract your viewers from the fact that they just paid $8 for the privilege of wasting an hour and a half of their lives.