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‘The Covenant’ lacks … everything

The trailer was warning enough. But I ignored my instincts and went to see The Covenant anyway. My instincts were right. The movie fails in its claim to be a horror/suspense thriller – it’s actually a cheesy chick-flick disguised by mediocre dialogue and boring action.

The film follows four privileged teenagers who find themselves battling an evil force threatening to take their power. Known as the “Sons of Ipswich,” the teens are the descendants of families who settled in the Ipswich colony of Massachusetts in the late 1600s. To escape persecution and protect themselves, five families with “untold powers” formed a covenant of silence.

Flash forward 300 years, and you have the descendants of the four remaining families. The long lost fifth descendant is the new kid in town and turns out to be the evil force who is after the others’ powers.

Watching this film felt like watching a pilot for a geeky WB show. Smallville, Angel, dare I say Charmed? I can’t make this stuff up.

Caleb Danvers (Steven Strait) is the de facto leader of the Sons of Ipswich, and captain of the swim team at his elite school, Spenser Academy. He has enough going on in his life, juggling school, home and trying to keep his fellow Sons from abusing their supernatural powers. Mix in a pretty blonde named Sarah Wenham (Laura Ramsey), and Caleb is pretty much set.

But the sudden death of a student has everyone buzzing. What Caleb and the other Sons discover is that the killer is the new kid, Chase Collins (Sebastian Stan) – and the fifth descendant of the “Sons of Ipswich.” The covenant of silence that has protected their families for so long is now endangered.

Some of the powers the Sons of Ipswich possess include the ability to levitate and jump from great heights, landing unscathed. They can also make spheres of gelatin that can blow another person away.

Director Renny Harlin, who has been known to produce not-so-great thrillers such as Deep Blue Sea (1999) and Driven (2001), didn’t stray far for this movie. He didn’t allow the characters to develop much, nor was there enough suspense built up – so when it came time for fight scenes or the predictable romantic scene, viewers weren’t feeling for the characters at all.

Another flaw: There were too few adults in this film. It would have been nice to see more of the overly concerned adults share their wisdom and advice while their sons battle the evil forces threatening the world. It’s hard for viewers to take the movie seriously when they see nothing but young people arguing and scrambling to take each other’s powers.

The fight scenes are anything but exciting. They just make viewers want someone, anyone, to die as soon as possible. The final fight scene between Caleb and Chase was all too familiar. It seemed to have been pulled straight out of Smallville or Buffy The Vampire Slayer. There was far too much breaking into windows, shattering glass everywhere, crashing into doors and piles of wood. Just when it felt like it couldn’t get any duller, the characters attempt Matrix-esque moves, all in slow motion. The gelatin blobs of energy each guy throws at the other are reminiscient of water balloons fights.

There were a few good things about this movie, however, such as the cinematography. The camera shots were slow and steady, making otherwise boring scenes interesting and creating at least an ounce of suspense at times. In one scene, police officers are looking down a cliff after the teens appear to have driven their Jeep off it. As the officers look down at the camera, bits of rock and pebbles fall down close to the camera at a very interesting angle.

The lighting was pleasing as well. The entire film was gloomy and full of various hues of blue. The lighting attracted the eye and provided the movie with its dark, somber mood. Also, all the actors are overwhelmingly attractive. At least Harlin got some stuff right.

Harlin had a shot at creating something great, but blew it. The boys’ family history alone was enough to keep this film from sinking. He could have built on it – made the boys research their history more, and brought in more characters to help the boys on their quest. But the Sons were too busy abusing their supernatural powers, looking hot and dealing with girls to care about what should have mattered. The film had a lot of potential, but didn’t deliver.

Don’t count on this movie to be anything but cheesy – you’ll just be left with a bad taste in your mouth.

Grade: D-

Running Time: 97 mins.Rated: PG-13