The Covenant

on September 08, 2006 by Annlee Ellingson
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Supernatural powers serve as an unsubtle metaphor for substance abuse in this horror thriller set at a remote Massachusetts prep school, where the Sons of Ipswich -- Caleb (Steven Strait), Pogue (Taylor Kitsch), Reid (Toby Hemingway) and Tyler (Chace Crawford) -- are the life of the party and the best athletes on the swim team. But little do their classmates know that the mythology about the boys' families is true: As the eldest son, each has inherited the abilities to shape-shift, defy gravity and perform feats of superhuman strength that will amplify exponentially when they “ascend” at age 18. The catch: The powers are addictive, and each use wears on the body. Abuse one's gifts and suffer the punishment of premature aging.

Given that “The Covenant” aggressively targets the teen demographic -- with dialogue no more sophisticated than, “Hey, man” and tantalizing shower scenes in both the girls and boys locker rooms -- one hopes, perhaps naively, that there'd be some kind of message amid the special effects and nubile bodies. But, no, witchcraft is battled with even more witchcraft, and ultimately warnings about the dangers of “using” go unheeded. Morality aside, such an alternative resolution would have been more satisfying narratively. But then one supposes there'd be no need for the climactic showdown. Which wasn't all that impressive anyway. Starring Steven Strait, Sebastian Stan, Laura Ramsey, Taylor Kitsch, Toby Hemingway, Jessica Lucas, Chace Crawford and Wendy Crewson. Directed by Renny Harlin. Written by J.S. Cardone. Produced by Tom Rosenberg and Gary Lucchesi. A Screen Gems release. Supernatural thriller. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some disturbing images, sexual content, partial nudity and language. Running time: 97 min.

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