It’s kind of like The Craft but without the personality and starring five wooden planks that call themselves the “Sons of Ipswich.”
We begin with Caleb (Steven Strait), Pogue (Taylor Kitsch), Reid (Toby Hemingway), and Tyler (Chace Crawford), four out of five of the Sons, revealing their warlock powers early on by cliff diving and landing on their feet with no problem. They make a dramatic entrance to a party in the distance. And, do you have those moments when you just know a movie is going to be awful? That one visual cue that just tells you that you may have bitten off more than you can chew? This is that moment. It’s the moment when we see all of them silhouetted against the night sky, walking to this high school, underage drinking party, in dramatic slow motion, as a girl proclaims, in awe, “There they are. The Sons of Ipswich.”
The Sons of Ipswich turn out to be a group of high school kids descended from a coven of witches (from Ipswich, Massachusetts) who formed a covenant of silence (get it?) to protect themselves and their families when the Salem witch trials were all the rage. One of the five families bound by the covenant went off the rails by indulging in their powers too freely which threatened to expose them all. So, the other families kicked that rotten seed out of the club.
These days, the Sons of Ipswich lay low at a prestigious boarding school in Massachusetts and take part in the usual, clichéd teen movie shenanigans like getting into fights with Jock #1 and Sweater Vest Snob #3 in defense of the New Girl, Sarah (Laura Ramsey). In this instance, Jock #1, a normatively attractive, rich, star athlete, starts trouble with the Sons, who are all also normatively attractive, rich, star athletes, because he’s hot for the new girl. The clique situation at this academy is a little confusing. Why are they not all friends? Is it because the Sons of Ipswich don’t allow non-Warlocks in their clubhouse? But, then why do they seem fine with the New Guy, Chase (Sebastian Stan) instantly befriending them after he tells Jock #1 to shove it?
The movie never explains the baffling high school politics at play here except to insinuate that Chase may, in fact, be descended from the rotten fifth family of Ipswich. This becomes more than an insinuation when Chase, who was too friendly and pushy by a mile from the beginning, reveals that he’s the missing Son of Ipswich. But, wait, there’s more. He’s also more powerful than the rest of them because he recently turned 18, and ancient magical powers are inexplicably governed by modern U.S. age of consent laws. Chase terrorizes all of them and their loved ones until he finally demands that Caleb, about to turn 18 himself, grants his powers to Chase.
As it happens, their powers are finite and using them too much all but turns you into a wizened lump of nothing as evidenced by the state of Caleb’s father. Chase plans on using all of his own powers plus some, so he and Caleb engage in a lot of homoerotic hostility before a hilarious final battle wherein Caleb takes out Chase to protect the covenant.
Look, every actor has a really bad movie under their credits. Think of the best actor you know, and you will surely find that they have been involved in at least one cinematic travesty that should be eradicated from our collective memory. These kids are no exception. Yes, it’s somewhat perplexing that Sebastian Stan and Taylor Kitsch made it out of this relatively unscathed when the others who nobody but their loved ones would know from a hole in the ground can’t say as much. But, worst movies exist. Possibly.
If you have the stomach for cheesy, overwrought dialogue, bad cinematography, a convoluted plot, odd pacing, and terrible music, you can easily toss The Covenant in the “it’s so terrible it’s hilarious” bin. At some points, the movie even helps you by making fun of itself.
It seems like one of those films you can find in the five dollar bin at Wal-Mart if you want to give it a try. 2/5 stars.