Maybe some plot spoilers from jump.
No one knows where the Power came from. In 1692, in the Massachusetts colony of Ipswich, five powerful families steeped in the dark arts formed a covenant. One family sought more than its share of power, and was exiled. For centuries, nary was there a trace of that banished family. Until now.
Cut to present day, as we eyeball the Sons of Ipswich, four teenagers, age sixteen or seventeen. Caleb, Reid, Tyler, and Pogue - all students of the priveleged Spencer Academy. They're so tight-knit that nothing seems able to dissolve their bond. Hahahaha!
They're descendants of the magical families, and gifted with supernatural powers passed on by ancestry. The caveat is that the more these addictive powers are used, the more they prematurely age the user. And when they turn eighteen, they will "ascend," thereby increasing their powers a thousandfold. In the past, the temptation to use these powers have proved to be irresistible to others, at the cost of their very lives. And, tonight, unbeknownst to the Sons of Ipswich, the bloodline of a long-vanished family resurfaces.
Oh, it's about to get CW. It's the start of the new school year. An outdoor party is being held. The Sons of Ipswich show up, having dropped off from a cliff. At the party, they meet newcomers Sarah Wendham (Laura Ramsey) and Chase Collins (Sebastian Stan), both of whom promptly ingratiate themselves into the group. Caleb Danvers (Steven Strait), the oldest and most level headed of the Ipswich bunch, and days away from his eighteenth birthday, falls hard for Sarah. Sarah reciprocates the attraction, to the consternation of Reid, the youngest and most rebellious Ipswich son. Meanwhile, a triangle forms amongst Pogue, new kid Chase, and Kate (Jessica Lucas) who is Sarah's roomie... and Pogue's girl. It's a lot of characters to shuffle thru.
The creepy begins when that same party produces a student's corpse, courtesy perhaps of a drug overdose. That night, Sarah gets the feeling she's being watched in the showers. She's not wrong. Meanwhile, Caleb wakes up suddenly, sensing that someone has channeled the Power. Next morning, he's driving his car when a darkling - a manifestation of the dead student - appears in the passenger seat, startling Caleb and causing him to collide head-on with a truck. Caleb survives without a scratch. Years ago, you may have seen the movie trailer.
These unsettling incidents are just harbingers of more sinister events in the offing. It dawns on Caleb that a malignant supernatural force is on the prowl. Further events soon have the Sons of Ipswich at each other's throats. And, me, I sensed a bit of Baron Zemo in Winter Soldier fkcery going down.
The trailer doesn't quite lie. This is a fun popcorn flick. The Covenant is reminiscent of The Lost Boys and The Craft in its hip, horror-laden, teenage sensibilities. However, it improves on those films in the CGI department. The Covenant boasts some nifty visuals. While not as inventive as I had hoped, the film does come up with neat ways of showcasing the young warlocks' powers. I wish it had an R rating, instead of PG-13. I craved even darker, more brooding, and more horrific scenes. But that's just the ghoul in me.
Starring a promising complement of gorgeous, then unknown kids, this is a rollicking entry in the action/horror genre. Steven Strait, Taylor Kitsch, and Sebastian Stan stand out. Stan, in particular, chews up the scenery. Laura Ramsey doesn't bring in the sexy as much as she ushers in the cute. The sexy label adheres better to her hot roommate Jessica Lucas, while Strait and Kitsch take over the smoldering look department.
So, nada complaints about the production values. It's a good-looking film, saturated in dark, brooding colors and tones, while the banging hard rock soundtrack serves to drive the story and lends immediacy to the scenes. The Covenant also benefits from the insertion of certain themes cloaked under the guise of fantasy horror - notably, themes of addiction and that sense of immortality and invincibility that you feel when you are young.
3.5 out of 5 stars. I got mad like for this movie, so I hesitate to state the negatives. But here goes. I feel the movie would've been better served with a tighter script. For instance, how many times have we seen the female lead tell the hero, "I'm scared" and the hero responds with a "Don't be"? Bits in the movie's middle drag. And there isn't enough jeopardy, not enough casualties. The ending seems rushed and feels abrupt. Frankly, I expected more from the showdown between Caleb and the exiled Ipswich descendant. By the way, the film doesn't even really try to camouflage the baddie's identity. What else? The other Sons of Ipswich could've been showcased more (Tyler was basically non-existent). By the movie's end, I didn't have the sense that everything had been resolved. Maybe the studio suits were thinking sequel? Joke's on them.