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CampBlood Reviews: Senseless Rants from a Picky Sissy

 

The Covenant Renny Harlin 2006

Nothin' Says Lovin' Like Somethin' from the Coven

Ladies and ladies, the impossible has happened: someone has out-gayed David DeCoteau.

In defiance of the very laws of nature, noted heterosexual Renny Harlin (he that is responsible for the brilliant Deep Blue Sea, lest we forget) has out-fagged legendary camp horror director DeCoteau with his new boy-band-of-witches saga, The Covenant. Here, Renny hijacks Dave’s tried-and-true formula: get a bunch of Aberzombies, put them in some sort of prep school and give them supernatural powers, force them to join the swim team, and throw a few disposable girls in for good measure. At no point should the plot of the film or the acting interfere with the camera’s view of said Aberzombies’ abs.

So it shouldn’t be surprising that the result is neither better no worse than your standard direct-to-video pickle-party. This variation on the formula, which tells the tale of the “Sons of Ipswitch”, the gifted (and not just in the abs department) descendants of the founding fathers of Salem, moves along fairly briskly, has some decent effects and occasionally fun stuntwork, and looks rather expensive for a film that doesn’t feature a single “name” performer and is obviously aimed at 12-year-old girls. And me.

Likewise, it’s not too shocking that the seemingly inescapable homoeroticism of this kind of story (so blatantly exposed in the Brotherhood and Voodoo Academy movies) should be in fine form here. First and foremost, the real object of the film is to linger lasciviously upon the admirable assets (and ass) of young, unironically-named Steven Strait. Seriously – the witchcraft, spiders, explosions, raves, and everything else take humble second-stage to loving shots of Strait rocking a tanktop, Strait rocking a tight v-neck t-shirt, Strait wearing a Speedo. We haven’t seen male body-worship on this scale since Ryan Reynolds battled evil spirits that threatened to keep him wet and shirtless for Amityville Horror’s entire running time (lucky for us, he pretty much failed).

Anyway, Strait plays Caleb, a member of an elite band of underwear models who have gone undercover as witches at a prep school in Massachusetts. You know, so as not to attract attention. Aside from Caleb, there’s the long-haired one, the blonde one, and another one who evades description entirely, to the point that it’s impossible to identify him in any group scenes. Actually, this becomes something of a leitmotif – don’t bother getting to know any of the characters, because half of them vanish after a single scene. The Metrosexual trickle-down has apparently left our high schools populated by an army of pomade-enhanced, cap-sleeved man-boys who are so self-approvingly pretty that the girls in their lives can do very little to distract them from their vaguely homoerotic navel-gazing. Whereas Dazed and Confused presented teen angst in a haze of pot smoke, here it is clouded by an overabundance of Axe Body Spray.

The important thing is that in this teen witch story, the witches are the popular kids – which is pretty rare, when you think about it. Rather than your typical “supernaturally enhanced underdog” story (Carrie, The Craft, Teen Witch, Jennifer), here we watch 4 rich, hot white boys who clearly dominate their school and also happen to enjoy a bewitchy gift that allows them to perform magic. Naturally, watching these kids get everything they want and continue to do so is not nearly as compelling as watching someone who actually NEEDS this power to get back at their enemies or overturn the status quo. In other words, Death of a Salesman this ain’t.

So into this happy netherworld where teenaged male witches run a small town and everyone seems fine with it come two strangers: Sarah (the very likeable Laura Ramsey) and Chase (the not-so-likeable Sebastian Stan). Sarah catches the eye of Caleb, who happens to be unattached despite being the hottest and richest guy at the school (and also happens to be able to, like, fly and shit). Chase falls in with the group early on and seems likeable in a batshit annoying/tweakery kind of way (i.e., fun at a party, but not fun to drive home). Coincidentally, a kid is found dead in his car at the scene of a “rave” (ugh…) and Chase’s student ID is found in the backseat. So he can conjure spiders to swarm people and levitate but he can’t keep track of his ID. Kids these days!

The plot of the film was summed up well enough in the commercials (and seriously – that’s all there is to it), so I’ll stop there and get right to the things that bothered and titillated me most. First, the overwhelming gayness of it all. OH. MY. GOD. There is literally a scene where Caleb and his best bud Pogue are talking on the phone, and both are shirtless, lying in bed, and drenched with sweat. I seriously expected the words “MEET LOCAL GUYS!” to flash across the top of the screen. And while we’re on the topic of Caleb’s butt-boy, wha-wha-WHAT? Is his name seriously “Pogue”?! Do you know what a pogue IS? Well, it happens to be defined by an online gay dictionary thusly: "pogue: 1. (POHG) A youthful male homosexual.; 2 The willing or unwilling partner of a male homosexual. Synonyms: punk. pogie pogy; poggie or poggy pogey."

Poggy pogey piggy wiggly woo – so the long-haired dude is a thinly-veiled homo? Forreal! I seriously don’t know why else they would have named the head witch’s bitch-boy “Pogue”, as it didn’t seem that the kids were into Irish-infused punk or anything. Anyway, aside from prettyboy Pogue and the late-nite shirtless phonecalls, there’s also some hot locker room action (buns galore!) and a gay-baiting incident where Chase gets called a fag by a different long-haired boy (seriously, it’s so hard to tell these guys apart that it’s like watching a Japanese movie. Oh, come ON – you know you know what I’m talking about…) and Chase beats his ass down – without actually denying the accusation, interestingly enough (he even makes reference to looking at the kid’s cahk, which is kinda hot in its own way). If only my own high school locker room experiences were half this interesting.

The real homoerotic tension comes when Chase starts Single White Femaling Caleb – considering that both their characters’ names AND the actors’ names start with the same letters, this was bound to happen. Chase basically takes Sarah out of the picture so that he can have Caleb and his delicious torso all to himself, telling him that if he doesn’t give him his “power” on the eve of his 18th birthday, he’ll kill both her and his buttboy Pogue. Seriously – he’s threatening to wipe out all the hot pussy if Caleb doesn’t give it to Chase when he turns 18. And is it a stretch to wonder what the magic of 18 is? What’s the age of consent in Massachusetts, anyway?

At one point Chase pins Caleb to the floor and kisses him on the face roughly. It’s really hot in a Fear No Evil kind of way, only with much more attractive men involved. Way hotter than the big finale fight, where the two warlocks throw what look like the underwater aliens from The Abyss back and forth at one another for 20 minutes. Seriously, is that supposed to be interesting? I thought witches were supposed to be able to do cool stuff like turn people into frogs and shit. What’s with the translucent blobs? Totally retarded. Chase is of course eventually defeated but his body isn’t found in the ashes of the burned-out barn – dare I suggest that a sequel might be in the works? Let’s hope that this one finds Chase having become a gay porn producer in the Valley or something.

Anyway, aside from the fun homoerotic stuff (what, did Jack Sholder direct this?!), it’s a decidedly mediocre film – it’s not great, but it’s not horrible, either. It’s just nothing we haven’t seen before, often better but plenty of times much worse. I’d wait for rental, but if you want to gaze at some fine young mancandy for 90 minutes, you could certainly do worse than Steven Strait, our genre’s newest Himbo. Steven, we welcome you with open hearts. And pants..

Rating (out of 5):