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Want a scare? Don't look to 'Covenant'



Published: Mon, September 11, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



It might be cool but the movie isn't scary.

By ROGER MOORE

ORLANDO SENTINEL

Let us read now from The Book of Damnation, from which so many "clues" to the mystery of "The Covenant" are revealed.

Thou shalt creep thy audience out, with, if all else fails, spiders.

Thou shalt cast thy fantasy with all manner of hotties, male and female.

Thou shalt Be Like "Buffy," and light and shoot this thing accordingly.

Thou shalt look for the odd laugh. Have one of your boy witches holler, "Harry Potter can kiss my ..."

Thou shalt scare.

Well, OK, four out of five will do.

There's this coed New England prep school, Spencer, where all the hot-young-things live in coed dorms, party on the beach and set the stage for Harvard and the wealth and success that will follow.

The Lords of Spencer? They would be "The Sons of Ipswitch," boys descended from the first families of a nearby town. Caleb, Pogue, Reid and Tyler are hunks with attitude. They call themselves "The Covenant." The other boys hate them.

"You posers make me puke!"

The Covenant fret not over the haters. Because they have magical powers. They can talk on their cells and speed in their Mustangs at the same time. Until they wreck.

And yet ...

There's a catch -- "use" those powers and you age ridiculously fast. They're 17, and just want to revel in their magic and their hormones. But sooner or later, one or more will admit, "I like to use."

New girl Sarah (Laura Ramsey, sort of Paltrow-lite) falls for sensitive Caleb (Steven Strait -- yes, that's his name). Pogue (Taylor Kitsch, ditto) loves and fights with Kate (Jessica Lucas). Reid (Toby Hemingway) and Tyler (Chace Crawford) are bad-eyed and loveless. Wait for them to start a bar fight.

And then a wild card, Chase (Sebastian Stan), rolls in, and weirdness occurs. Specters appear. Somebody dies.

All of this happens as Caleb looks after his drunken mom (Wendy Crewson of "24") on the eve of his 18th birthday, the day that he "ascends" and earns even greater powers, powers which he must avoid using. But which we know he will.

Consider for a moment the downward spiral of Renny Harlin, the Finnish flop once married to Geena Davis, once director of a "Die Hard" movie. "Cutthroat Island" ended their marriage and his career. He's been doing bad horror movies ("Mindhunters," "Exorcist: The Beginning") ever since. It's a miracle that he doesn't read the box office grosses of the newer pirate movies and open a vein.

He still can stage a decent supernatural battle royale. But he couldn't scare a mouse. Nor does "The Covenant."




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