The Covenant Movie Review
Written by John Colianni
Released by Uncork'd Entertainment
Directed by Robert Conway
Written by Owen Conway and Robert Conway
2017, 90 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on February 7th, 2017
Monica Engesser as Sarah Doyle
Owen Conway as Richard Doyle
Clint James as Father Francis Campbell
Sanford Gibbons as Father James Burk
Over the past few decades, I've watched my fair share of horror movies. From ultra-violent, eye-popping gore-fests to gothic style time pieces, I can honestly say that there aren't many sub-genres of horror that I dislike. While I have become quite desensitized to what scares most, there is one theme that will always send shivers down my spine: possession. I am not in the least bit religious, but there is something that will always make me uncomfortable and uneasy about even the slight chance that a sinister presence can take over someone's body and mind. Ever since seeing The Exorcist, there have been many attempts to replicate that kind of immersion that can convince an audience what they are seeing is real. That kind of lasting feeling is what writers and directors only dream of. Robert Conway's The Covenant is a mixed bag in this regard.
After the death of her daughter and the suicide of her husband, Sarah Doyle has moved back to her childhood home with estranged brother, Richard. Shortly after they arrive, Sarah begins to experience violent and supernatural phenomenoa and Richard seeks the help of a priest and paranormal investigators. After confirming Sarah is being overtaken by a powerful demon, they will join forces to try and save Sarah's soul.
Mimicry in many cases is considered the most sincere form of flattery. On the surface, The Covenant borrows from classics thematically and in the vein of special effects. The gore is done with finesse and when someone starts talking in a demonic voice, I turn into a giddy school girl. The beginning of the film has a bit of shock value but that unfortunately doesn't keep its momentum. The ideas that Robert and Owen Conway put forward aren't anything groundbreaking but they had a chance to slap a fresh coat of paint on a genre that has had its ups and downs over the decades. What doesn't translate well is the mediocre acting and the plot that fails to provide much cause to the events that are taking place. Characters are presented and dismissed in a fashion that prevented me from caring about anyone. There are loose explanations to the events that are transpiring, but those ideas aren't given enough breathing room to form into anything worthwhile.
A premise without substance to back it up leaves much of The Covenant dead in the water. There is some eye-gouging, a suicide, crosses burning skin, tongue-cutting and a really uncomfortable incestuous sex scene that takes the plot into the climax. The efforts of the Conways in the varying types of gore doesn't go unnoticed. The unfortunate of those special effects is that I didn't care when someone died or when various omens appeared in an attempt to drive the story forward. Great stories tend to start from a central idea and branch out to incorporate different devices that both complement plot points and add complexity to characters. When that idea fails to add anything to a broad story, what is left tends to be jumbled and incoherent. The result is The Covenant.