Solid performances from this basically unheralded cast.
This movie seems to have too much style and not enough substance.
The Covenant is an interesting if not totally original tale of 4 teenagers with a secret power. The power between them is so strong that if they use it too much, it not only hurts their enemies but also each other. They do their best to keep this all in check but when a new player comes into the circle (who also happens to have the same power), suddenly the balance gets shifted and these teenagers have got to grow up quick in what is the fight for their lives. This film stars Steven Strait as Caleb, who is essentially the leader of Pogue (Tyler Kitsch), Tyler (Chase Crawford) and Reid (Toby Hemingway). Chase (Sebastian Stan) is the one upsets the order between both them and everyone else in their lives.
Director Renny Harlin has gone out of his way to infuse this movie with an old fashioned moodiness. As such, The Covenant plays like many of the gothic, horror films from the past.
Renny Harlin takes us through the creation of this movie, what he was trying to achieve in certain scenes, the use of light, the hipness of the characters, and everything else. What I like about listening to his commentary tracks (he's done them for a lot of the DVDs that I have listened to), is that he makes everything seem so simple. He is also very upfront and honest, and even though the answers might be unoriginal, coming from his Scandinavian inflected tongue they sound highly inspired. I would suggest that wannabe filmmakers check out what is being offered here. What's interesting to me here is listening to the Harlin talk about this horror flick, and knowing that he's the same guy who directed A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master. I try to draw some parallels but it ain't really happening. Guess that's just my inner fan speaking.
Behind the Scenes
Titled Breaking the Silence: Exposing the Covenant, this is a "making of" that explores this film's creation. Nothing too special is talked here, and since a lot of people probably won't know a lot of these actors, I could certainly see them skipping past this section. At the very least this is worth a look because we get to see some on the set footage, and I feel that that gives a small insight into this film's overall existence and style.
Widescreen. The look of this movie, when Harlin just lets the story breathe, is what really grabbed my attention. I liked the almost desaturated color tones that this film had. It felt like I was watching a movie from the 1940s or 1950s at times. As I didn't see this movie in the theater, I really can't say how different it did or didn't look. I will say that it looked a lot different than many of the other teen horror films, and in a lot of ways it seems that Harlin has gone out of his way to make this film not be one of those.
Dolby Digital. The audio on this DVD is very rich and full. In all honesty I wouldn't expect anything less from a Sony release. That company is very much on the cutting edge of all different kinds of technology, so I would be surprised if a Sony release ever got rated badly in this section. I will say that I think the way to go with this DVD is to utilize a surround sound system, as well maybe even watch it on Blu-ray if you have the capability. I have a feeling that when we look back at all these formats, we are going to see Sony as the company who really helped push the whole next generation experience up a notch.
Steven Strait seems to lead The Covenant on this blue and gray black cover. Below them, is a shot of Straight and Stan engaged in battle. The back portion gives us some pictures from the film, a description of what this movie is about, a Special Features listing, and system specs. I was honestly surprised at the lack of bells and whistles for this release, considering that the film was made for $20 million and worldwide it grossed double that. Oh well, I am sure that Sony has some rerelease plans up their sleeve.
While I liked The Covenant and thought that this new cast of "lost boys" brought a lot of freshness to the material, I think that Renny Harlin might have overplayed his hand a little bit. He is such a big proponent of talking about how today's audience is so sophisticated that they would have a problem seeing a movie told in the film language of years ago. I personally think that this makes his movies suffer, especially the horror films, because so much of the fear is telegraphed. When a horror movie has too much cutting, and too many quick scenes, it calls attention to the very fact that you are watching a movie. This is so detrimental because it essentially disqualifies the use of horror as a device.
Ultimately, I think that The Covenant works because we have a cast that isn't too familiar, yet the story they are involved in is compelling. I just wish there was more of it to go around.
The Covenant was released September 8, 2006.