Happy Halloween, Everyone! The film The Covenant broke into theaters in 2006. The film was negatively reviewed by critics, and not taken very seriously by true lovers of the horror genre either. The film would have certainly disappeared into the ever-expanding, lackluster, horror movie black hole if not for it’s one saving grace: copious amounts of sexy, shirtless men. Like A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, another horror film I recently reviewed, the internet and its users have repeatedly accused The Covenant of being one of the gayest horror films ever made. An accusation which, of course, peaks my interest. So, Gentle Reader, light your jack-o’-lantern, grab yourself some candy, and get ready to become excited as we once again ask ourselves, “Is this the gayest horror movie ever made?”
Full Title & Vital Stats:
The Covenant (2006)
Directed by Renny Harlin who also directed A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger & Deep Blue Sea
Notable Actors: Steven Strait, Taylor Kitsch, Sebastian Stan, Chance Crawford, Laura Ramsey, Jessica Lucas
Caleb Danvers and his three best friends are handsome, popular and mysterious. Other teenagers in their prep high school jokingly refer to them as the Sons of Ipswich. Everyone knows they are descendants of the five families, which founded their town of, also named Ipswich. What no one realizes is that their families were part of a 17th century witch’s coven and that makes each of them living warlocks. They possess powers, which will drastically increase on their 18th birthdays. Suddenly strange occurrences begin to happen and a battle must be fought to prevent their powers from being stolen and their loved ones from being hurt by an evil force intent on no good.
Jumping right into my Adam film stats. Once again, plot spoilers follow.
Provost Higgins. This character knows things he should have no way of knowing and uses his authority to encourage things he should have no control over nor any interest in; like Caleb and Chase hanging out. He also completely ignores important information like Chase’s student ID being found in a dead student’s car. That seems like important information that a person of authority would want to share with the police. He is obviously a horrible provost and a badly written character.
Sebastian Stan is having the most fun in this film with his character Chase. He is devilish and diabolical, but at least he is interesting. The motivation for his actions may be oddly intense and a little too crazy for belief, but Stan’s above par acting keeps us watching to see what he does next. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that his eyes kind of twinkle when he smiles.
Film’s Coolest Scene:
Caleb’s car having a head-on collision with a truck transporting logs. He uses his powers to break the car apart piece by piece so that the pieces can avoid the crash and reconnect themselves on the other side. Very well done. An effect that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before on screen. Runner up goes to Sarah’s nightmare scene with all the spiders. It legitimately made me squirm. I hate spiders!
Character realism is lacking in this film. I noticed several instances of background extras, secondary characters, and even main characters acting in ways that real people would not, simply to serve the plot. One example is Caleb’s sudden buddy-buddy feelings towards Chase. One would expect a man with Caleb’s supernatural background to be more suspicious of strangers who suddenly latch on to him and his friends right as new, problematic events begin to happen. (Unless if we want to attribute Caleb’s fast interest in Chase to be a teenage crush.)
Speaking of Caleb warming to new people improbably quick, Caleb and Sarah’s romance feels too intense too fast. The script just doesn’t allow enough time to develop it with everything else going on and certainly contains no stellar dialogue to explain why they fall for each other so hard and so quick. This film’s acting is not awful; the script is just poorly written.
Perhaps the films’ worst offenses were the unrealistically vacant dorm hallways and restrooms. Much of this plot’s action and creep factor depend on the main characters being alone. In order to accomplish this the filmmakers simply dispel realism to create completely vacant environments which on any normal school campus would be busy and almost never devoid of at least one student coming or going. These 7 main characters exist in a impractically lonely and isolated world.
The film’s special effects and CGI are above average. There is one not so impressive CGI scene towards the beginning of the film where Caleb jumps off a cliff and for a second you feel like you are watching a video game character fall. Otherwise, the effects helped support the story and make it more interesting. Barring the final standoff, which I explain in more detail later.
The set design and locations that make up these characters’ worlds are beautiful and realistic. The characters dress well and appropriate for 2006. The sets were obviously of a decent budget and entertaining to look at. The film has a dark blue and gloomy feel to it most of the time and it works well to create an intense yet somber backdrop.
Male Eye Candy: Almost every man in this film is fun to look at. This cast reads like an Abrecrombie and Fitch catalogue. The film’s creators know this and use the beautiful flesh to their advantage. Even when the men are not shirtless they, for some reason, find it logical to wear wife beaters and sleeveless shirts to drink at a bar in autumn. Realism is once again sacrificed, but this time in order to better display the gun show.
Steven Strait is sans shirt in multiple scenes and he obviously spends time at the gym. Luckily the plot places the warlocks on the swim team so we get several scenes of each guy in sexy speedos. Perhaps most notable is a shower/locker room scene with ample amounts of male flesh on display. Strategically placed fog keeps us from seeing ‘the goods’ but the entire scene still feels deliciously homoerotic.
Female Eye Candy: Both Laura Ramsey & Jessica Lucas spend a ridiculous amount of air time walking around in skimpy nighties, revealing sleepwear, and tiny undies. Laura spends several scenes wearing just a towel and while she is in the shower we see her bare back to just above her ass. We see a full silhouette of her body from the back but only through foggy glass.
Subpar. Though the visuals were well done for 2006, they were boring. Caleb’s ascending, which the entire film is building up to, turns out to be undistinguished and unimpressive. Even the battle choreography barely entertained me. It was like watching the same shot over, and over, and over. There is nothing ‘climactic’ about this final battle.
Do I recommend this film?
The Covenant has plenty of faults, especially with its script. This film is obviously more about eye candy and looking good than about plot and character development. Many characters are pigeon holed, predictable and one dimensional. Like Taylor Kitsch’s hot headed character Pogue, who places himself in a dangerous situation even though he should know better than to do so. But I guess his temper is just so bad that it throws all logic out the window in order to serve the underdeveloped plot.
However, if you lower your expectations just a little, all in all the film is kind of fun. I do not hate it. It was pretty to look at. Also, the Wiccan style magic was intriguing. But I must admit, I do find myself wondering, if everyone wasn’t so amazing to look at, would I still revisit the film every so often?
In my opinion, The Covenant may not be as explicitly gay as A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, but it is a solid runner up. Caleb’s fondness of his stunningly handsome, male friends, and his aversion to wearing shirts, does appear very homosexual on the surface. Any man who is constantly half naked with his male friends will eventually raise an eyebrow or two.
But in all honesty, if I delve deeper into the relationship symbolism within this film I find The Covenant to be more bisexual than gay. The character of Caleb is experiencing many internal and external changes. He is on the brink of adulthood and ascending. In the midst of these young hormones and supernatural forces coursing through his veins he is presented with two enticing and possible mates: Sarah and Chase.
It is the oldest story in the book. Caleb, on one hand is attracted to Sarah’s simplicity and safeness, and on the other hand he is drawn to Chase’s complexity and danger. Both Sarah and Chase are drawn to Caleb’s extreme life force and both even end up kissing him at some point (though Chase and Caleb’s kiss is short and arguably seems to have a mocking nature to it).
Notably though, there is no sex between Caleb and Sarah. Perhaps he must decide which team he plays for before he can make that kind of commitment. In the end, The Covenant falls somewhere between an examination of bi-curious college exploration and a voyeuristic scanning of a really hot issue of Men’s Health magazine.