Welcome to “You’re Lucky You’re Cute,” A new feature where I will review bad films I watched, probably after a few glasses of wine, because I think one of the actors is very cute.
There is a short list of things that will get me to watch any movie no matter how it looks:
- A boy’s preparatory or boarding school setting.
- A group of young men together in a public shower (you have no idea how many times I’ve watched School Ties on cable).
- Witches, especially teen witches.
- Renny Harlen’s involvement.
So you can imagine my delight when a friend told me that not only was there a film in existence that checked all those boxes (Had someone read my diary?!) but also boasted Nate Archibald (meh), Tim Riggins (if he asked), and Carter Baizen: The Winter Soldier (JACKPOT!) among the cast. So that is how I watched The Covenant.
Before we get started, let’s just give you the shower scene right now. It’s probably the only one you need and it’s NSFW because there are butts.
This film has a 3% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
I’m a little disappointed in this film’s game overall; when given teen witches I want some confused teens played by twenty somethings who are experimenting with spells and dealing with witchcraft peer pressure and their changing bodies. Right away we sit through several panels of text explaining the history of how these four boys are descended from witch families from Massachusetts who all just live in this tiny town and go to prep school and are sworn to secrecy, and I appreciate that the film dispensed with having a character monologue this at me and gave me the challenge of trying to read it in a weird script during a White Zombie jam. However, our first scene is our witchboys deciding with little trepidation to join a bonfire party by jumping off of a cliff above it, something that seems exactly like what teen boys might do actually but it seems to crush all hope of this being a boyCraft where we’re going to light some candles and play light as a feather, stiff as a board.
(While we’re discussing the beginning, I have two other complaints. First, from what I know from witchcraft it’s not genetic powers that make your eyes go dark. That’s wizardry. Witchcraft is an art to be practiced via spells and herbs in your room; wizardry is making things happen by moving your hands. The only accepted modern tome which contradicts this conventional knowledge is Charmed and even they were mostly spell-based in their Magick. Also, this film is called The Covenant and while maintaining secrecy is a kind of agreement I’m choosing to believe they thought they were calling it The Coven and realized their mistake only after the posters were printed.)
Shortly after joining the party we meet our two superfluous do nothing female characters; Taylor Kitch’s girlfriend who will spend a large portion of the film incapacitated by witch spiders and Sarah, her roommate and a new scholarship student from Boston who will fall in love with Caleb our main boy witch. (We also meet Sebastian Stan, another new student who hangs out with these two girls and mostly just cracks wise and takes care of spiders.) The boys enter the party slow motion in a line, boy band style, as Sarah’s roommate is giving her the who’s who and what’s what. “Who are they?” Sarah asks.
“Oh them, they’re the Sons of Ipswich. They’re from the old families who’ve lived here for generations.” Oh, okay. The best way to keep your witch secret, in case some witch stuff goes down? It’s definitely walking in slow mo, jumping off cliffs and surviving, and calling yourselves the “Sons of some small New England Town.” Not suspicious at all, I bet the witch is Bill from Cincinnati here on a hockey scholarship. Anyway, the party is broken up with an improbable police chase (what prep school town police are not just following the rich kids home with a warning?) where we learn that this movie has a sense of humor about itself but it’s not very refined.
Now, here is where we waste a lot of time and see a lot of evidence that about twenty different people wrote this movie. We gain one piece of important exposition from Caleb; the Sons of Ipswich get to try out their powers at thirteen, and on their eighteenth birthday they “ascend” and gain them all. Using them as an adult ages you, and if you’re not careful to avoid this trite metaphor for alcoholism like Caleb’s own father you become a wrinkly hideous monster, forced to live in the dilapidated gardener’s house on your huge property instead of in your beautiful mansion with your wife and son. Aside from this there are mostly just threads of possibly better plots that go nowhere. A dead boy is found at the party, and while his ghost (or rather “deadlinger” /dismissive jerk off motion) is popped into Caleb’s car while driving by someone evil, no one seems terribly upset by his death. There is the introduction of a very aggressive bully character and his terrible girlfriend who disappear pretty early. There are two scenes with boys talking to the Provost where both the dialogue and the actor insinuate heavily that we will find out he’s involved in this secret but that never happens. There is dischord among the Sons of Ipswich which results in a fight, but they drop it long before it can contribute to a twist ending at all. Nothing happens, but we’re in prep school jackets and on the swim team so we don’t care that we’re killing time in the middle of one of the Buffy episodes you usually skip during your rewatch.
Anyway, Sebastian Stan is evil. All of a sudden he just is evil and he killed that boy from the party and he’s suddenly a much more important character for the last 15 minutes. Caleb and Taylor Kitch learn that he is descended from a fifth forgotten witch family from a book in the library. (More tips on keeping your witch secrets? Keep track of all five witches at all times. THERE ARE ONLY FIVE. THIS INFORMATION IS IN YOUR SCHOOL LIBRARY.) At this point in the film both the actor Sebastian Stan and the character he plays just lose their goddamn minds. I bet he decided to just have a lot of fun, you know? I mean, how else do you deliver evil witch dialogue of this caliber?
(This clip is also a good example of the ADR quality for the film, which is mostly ADRed.)
Sebastian Stan puts everyone we kind of care about in a coma, then fights with Caleb in Sarah’s room (they fell in love at some point and she knows all their secrets, did I forget to mention?), then kisses him for no reason. Sure!
We learn that he is eighteen and he loves using his powers, and since he is some shitty adopted orphan he feels something is owed to him. Therefore, he is attempting to force Caleb into gifting him his powers when Caleb ascends on his birthday conveniently scheduled for the same day as the big dance we absolutely can’t stay home from. That’s why everyone is in a coma. He is told that is not even how these powers work but he does not care, in the most realistic depiction of teenage boyhood in this film. He lures Caleb to a barn with Sarah’s second coma (oy) and they fight like witches. You’re picturing blue lightning bolts coming out of their hands, aren’t you? You’re so wrong. There were some left over effects from O-Town’s Liquid Dreams video I guess, because we shoot floating water balls out of our hands. We also are great at puns.
Caleb’s father gifts his powers to Caleb in an unearned emotional moment with his wife, and Caleb blow up Sebastian Stan and the barn. Everyone’s comas are cured! Our lovers go to the dance.
Would I recommend you watch this film: Yes! It’s pointless and bad (and it doesn’t follow the established very serious rules of witchcraft/wizardry) but it’s free on putlocker and they play it on Logo sometimes. There are butts. There is a certain joy in watching any actor you enjoy in other things and/or find cute just go bananas in a crappy movie (hey, it’s almost like the theme of this column I just thought up). While everyone else os fairly bland with a moment here or their, Sebastian Stan really goes full Charlize in Snow White and the Huntsman when he’s let loose in the third act. If you’ve exhausted yourself on slasher films and ghost shows in an orgiastic October of living your spoopiest life I would definitely suggest you fill your CVS novelty plastic skull goblet that you regret buying with some cheap red wine and turn of your brain to this mindless, shirtless 90 minutes.