THE COVENANT ★ Directed by Renny Harlin. Starring Steven Strait, Sebastian Stan, Toby Hemingway, Chace Crawford, Taylor Kitsch, Laura Ramsey 15A cert, gen release, 97 min
RIGHT. So there are these four male teenage witches – named, in the manner of a football supporters club, The Sons of Ipswich – who spend their days casting mostly benign magic about their posh private school. Then there’s this long-haired bully. He can be dealt with easily enough. More troubling is a new student who also seems to have supernatural powers (though none that can help him deliver a line of dialogue with any more feeling than an old tractor brings to its backfires) and who appears eager to infiltrate the Sons’ cosy coven and wreak his own havoc.
If the summary above appears vague and conditional, that is because Renny Harlin’s diabolically appalling horror film stars the most confusingly homogenous legion of actors the cinema has seen since March of the Penguins. The director should have ordered his cast to wear name-tags so we could make some serious attempt at telling them apart: Mature Witch, Mad Witch, Evil Witch, Another Bloke and so on.
Insofar as I can judge, the giddy plot offers few rewards for viewers assiduous enough to disentangle its threadbare strands. Attempting futilely to ape the witty quips and crafty subversions of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Covenant stumbles clumsily toward an unintentionally hilarious denouement where one kiss-curled boyband reject flings fireballs at another.
Along the way, a third character (I think) finds time to remark: “Kiss my ass Harry Potter!” The popular wizard has better things to do with his adolescence.