The Netflix Queue: The Covenant (2006)
After I saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I developed an intense soft spot for Sebastian Stan, who plays The Winter Soldier and has the saddest puppy dog eyes in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Turns out “sad eyes” is basically a summary of Stan’s entire film career, not much of which is even available on Netflix (at least in Canada). But The Covenant is!
I also have a bit of a soft spot for early-mid 2000s teen horror/supernatural thriller movies. Most of them were just vehicles for whatever television actor was popular with the Seventeen magazine set and none of them were particularly good. 2006’s The Covenant takes “not particularly good” to an art-form.
The Covenant stars Chace Crawford (of Gossip Girl fame at the time) and Taylor Kitsch (Friday Night Lights) as two of four teenagers from ancient witch families in Massachusetts. When new student Chace Collins (Sebastian Stan) arrives at their prestigious private school, the foursome (rounded out by Steven Strait and Toby Hemingway) must confront an ancient fifth power they thought was long dead.
It’s basically Heathers but with teenage boys, witchcraft, and a terrible script. It could have been a dark analogy for drug addiction, had they fleshed out the idea of powers being addictive and explored the truly destructive implications, rather than using it as a warning for one boy not to use his to look up a girl’s skirt.
It would also be better, and this is not a criticism I make often, if the female characters were entirely removed. They serve as the mildest of motivations for the boys to do anything and serve as collateral damage for the boys’ witchcraft. Remove them entirely and you’ve got a movie about teenage boys with confusing and conflicting feelings for each other and physical reactions they’re not entirely in control of, and the whole thing is immensely more interesting and a much better coming-of-age story.
Instead, we get bad CGI fight scenes, protagonists with questionable morals (and not in the gritty, ambiguous tortured hero way), and some of the worst dialogue I’ve ever heard. There was more than one occasion where I had to actually go back and make sure that’s actually what was said. More often than not those lines came from Chace, like the time he threateningly recites the Little Miss Muffet nursery rhyme during an attack.
There are bad movies, and then there are aggressively bad movies that make me want to lie down and think about the life choices that led me to surrendering 97 minutes of my life to them. The Covenant is definitely among the latter, but it’s also the kind of movie that will have me telling everyone “this is so bad. You have to watch it.”