The Covenant (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Renny Harlin|
|Written by||J. S. Cardone|
|Edited by||Nicolas de Toth|
|Distributed by||Screen Gems|
|Box office||$37.6 million|
The Covenant is a 2006 American supernatural horror thriller film written by J. S. Cardone, directed by Renny Harlin, and starring Steven Strait, Taylor Kitsch, Toby Hemingway, Chace Crawford, Sebastian Stan, Laura Ramsey, and Jessica Lucas. The film, despite receiving very negative reviews, was a moderate box office success.
In the town of Ipswich, four popular teenage boys – Caleb, Pogue, Reid, and Tyler, collectively known as the "Sons of Ipswich" – are descendants of colonial witch families, and possess magical powers. Upon reaching age 18, they will "ascend", and their magic will become vastly more powerful. In return, it will also bind to their lifespan, and usage makes them age more rapidly. The Sons, well versed in those facts, remain mostly carefree. Only Caleb – the closest to his eighteenth birthday – exercises caution. At a local beach party, they meet new transfer students Sarah and Chase.
Supernatural occurrences of unknown source begin happening, unsettling Caleb. He suspects Reid, the most reckless of the four, to be the culprit; Reid angrily denies involvement. Though Sarah receives the brunt of paranormal harassment, Caleb and later Pogue see a "darkling," a dead spirit and malicious omen. Meanwhile, Caleb and Sarah quickly become romantically close. During a swim race, Caleb notices Chase, who had befriended the group, displaying magic usage. After researching, Caleb concludes that Chase belongs to a fifth family, one believed long extinct, and that he is the true perpetrator. As the Sons discuss this revelation, Pogue learns that his girlfriend was rendered comatose by a spell. Enraged, he hastily challenges Chase, who swiftly hospitalizes him.
Caleb visits Sarah only to fall into Chase's trap. Chase reveals that he was unaware of his magic’s origin, having been adopted. After locating his biological father, he learned of the price for ascension; but it was too late and he has become too addicted to using magic. His birth father then transferred power to him. Chase wants to force other "ascended" witches to transfer power to him as well, starting with Caleb. Despite Caleb's warning that having more power does not save him from aging to death, Chase ignores him. Before leaving, Chase threatens harm on Caleb's family and friends if he does not get what he wants. Caleb reveals the truth to Sarah and takes her to his father, a man of forty-four years with a decrepit old body, exhausted from magic abuse. When Sarah suggests that one of the other three transfer their power to Caleb so he could evenly match Chase, Caleb immediately refuses, explaining that doing so will cost them their lives.
On the night of Caleb’s eighteenth birthday, he leaves to face Chase alone, and has Reid and Tyler safeguard Sarah in public. However, Chase easily kidnaps Sarah. At an old barn, the two confront each other. Chase reveals a spellbound Sarah and gives Caleb an ultimatum of his life for hers. Caleb declares he won’t will his power away or let Sarah come to harm. They duel and Caleb is clearly outmatched. At the exact minute of his birth, he ascends, and his power fully matures, which allows him to mount an offensive. However, as Chase has more than one magical share, he still proves superior and the temporary turn of tide does not last long. Back at home, Evelyn, Caleb's mother, begs her husband save Caleb. He sacrifices himself and transfer power remotely to his son. Once his father’s power is infused within him, Caleb hits Chase with a final blow that engulfs him in a ball of flame. Sarah, Kate, and Pogue awaken, freed from their curses.
Firefighters arrive on the scene. Caleb and Sarah wait until inspection of the barn’s wreckage is complete; they are informed that a third person was not found, suggesting Chase somehow survived and escaped. The pair get into Caleb’s car, and he casually uses magic to fix the busted windshield, which seems visibly unsettling to Sarah. He reassuringly holds her hand, and they drive off.
A central theme of The Covenant is the concept of "The Power." The Power is a mysterious magical energy that exists within the Sons of Ipswich; inherited from their witch ancestors who learned it from foreigners, possibly voodoo priestesses who were captured and brought to the Americas from Africa as slaves. The origin of the Power itself remains unknown; not even being recorded in the Book of Damnation, which details the history of witchcraft. Previous generations of wielders of the Power were witch covens within the Puritan communities of Salem, Massachusetts. Following the Salem Witch Trials, the Covenant was sworn. The Sons of Ipswich possess a variety of supernatural abilities, including various types of kinesis:
- Psychokinesis – The power to move or levitate objects without touching them, also called telekinesis.
- Pyrokinesis – The power to control fire and heat.
- Aerokinesis – The power to control air and wind.
- Atmokinesis – The power to influence the weather, particularly to make it rain or to summon storms and lightning.
- Levitation – The power to defy gravity and hover or maneuver freely in the air or even fly.
- Astral Projection – The power to project one's consciousness and senses beyond and away from the physical body.
- Superhuman Strength – Increasing one's physical strength to above-human performance.
- Shapeshifting – The ability to change one's physical appearance and voice to appear as another person.
- Teleportation – The power to instantaneously disappear from one place and reappear in another.
- Clairvoyance – The power to see things that are invisible, such as the creatures known as 'darklings'.
- Other spells to damage, or protect self from physical damage.
- The fifth son had control over spiders and could cast other damaging spells through them.
- Steven Strait as Caleb Danvers
- Taylor Kitsch as Pogue Parry
- Toby Hemingway as Reid Garwin
- Chace Crawford as Tyler Simms
- Sebastian Stan as Chase Collins
- Laura Ramsey as Sarah Wenham
- Sarah Smyth as Kira Snider
- Jessica Lucas as Kate Tunney
- Kyle Schmid as Aaron Abbot
- Wendy Crewson as Evelyn Danvers
- Stephen McHattie as William Danvers III
- Kenneth Welsh as Provost Higgins
- Jon McLaren as Bordy Becklin
Despite a popular misconception, The Covenant is not based on a comic book title nor on any other book. The confusion comes from the fact that Sony released a comic book of the same name, written by Aron Coleite, and created for the purposes of promoting the film. Neither the authors of the comic-book miniseries nor Top Cow Comics are mentioned in the films’ credit sequences, so the comic-book miniseries is not regarded as source material by The Covenant's producers. In fact, the film originated from a spec script, and went through a number of drafts, by different writers, before J.S. Cardone eventually submitted the final draft. Cardone received sole screenwriting credit.
The Covenant received extremely negative reviews from critics, with a 3% "Rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and the site's consensus stating, "The Covenant plays out like a teen soap opera, full of pretty faces, wooden acting, laughable dialogue, and little suspense." The film also holds a place on the site's "Worst of the Worst", ranking 31st. The film received a 19 out of 100 score on Metacritic, indicating "overwhelming dislike". The film has gone on to develop a cult following, with some noting its homoerotic undertones.
Upon its release in the United States, the film managed to top the box office charts, with a $8.9 million opening on what was called a "weak" weekend. As of October 15, 2006, The Covenant has earned $23,292,105 in the U.S. ($37,256,954 internationally). The film cost roughly $20 million to produce, not including marketing.
- "THE COVENANT (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. September 5, 2006. Retrieved March 6, 2015.
- The Covenant at Box Office Mojo
- "From Film To Comics: Coleite & Rodriguez tackle "The Covenant"". Comic Book Resources. July 8, 2005. Retrieved 2008-06-07.
- The Covenant at Rotten Tomatoes
- Worst of The Worst 2000–2009. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2010-10-28.
- The Covenant at Metacritic
- 'Covenant' Hovers Over Weak Weekend. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 28, 2010.
- The Covenant – DVD Sales. The Numbers. Retrieved 2011.07.23.