The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - Don­ald Clarke

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.

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