Movie Musings: The Covenant

Seeing as I’m still only working part time, I had today off. One of the things I did to pass some of my day off was to watch the copy of The Covenant that I had rented. It was an interesting movie, and I mostly enjoyed it. I’m certainly glad that I did not waste the money to see it in the theater, however. It would not have been worth the extra expenditure.

The basic premise of the movie was actually quite good, and the special effects were about what you’d expect in such a supernatural thriller. (Though to be honest, I’m not sure it deserves that designation.) There were certain plot elements that were rather noteworthy, such as the idea of one person being able to will their power to another with the caveat that doing so would mean death for the one giving up their power. Unfortunately, these concepts were underdeveloped in many cases. Also, the concept of a darkling was introduced, but never sufficiently explained. Indeed the appearances of the darkling in the movie served little purpose, other than providing a convenient way to let the main characters know someone was “using.”

The other poorly emphasized plot element was at the end where Caleb’s mother visits her aged and dying husband. As a result of that meeting, Caleb’s father wills his power to the younger man, enabling him to defeat Chase. Such a sacrifice deserved much more attention than the brief blip in the final battle.

Of course, like any good thriller, they left the obligatory opening for a sequel. In the end, no sign of Chase was never found, leaving the characters and moviegoers alike to wonder whether the power-mad youth was truly gone or merely biding his time for another attempt at his goal. To be hoenst, I think that such a movie that shut all the doors on the possibility of a future sequel would be a refreshing change of pace.

When this movie originally came out, several friends in the Pagan community expressed their concern about it. They were concerned that this movie would create an insurge of youths with warped ideas of what real magic and Pagan spirituality was about looking to form “covenants” and gain the kinds of power wielded by the characters in this movie. And this concern is not unfounded. After all, I’ve fielded my own share of requests for spells to change one’s hair color or eye color from girls who had recently watched The Craft.

However, I think that the life-threatening aspect of “the power” in this movie might mitigate the tendency for boys and young men looking for the fast path to power after watching this movie. After all, I don’t know of many youths who are prepared to sacrifice their youth, let alone their lives, in the pursuit of power. So as long as said youths don’t try to separate that aspect of the movie’s premise from the rest, I’m hopeful that we won’t see an upsurge of “Covenant wannabes” in the near future. Indeed, in some ways, I’m thankful that Hollywood imposed some “price” on these characters in exchange for their powers, as I’m tired of magic being presented as a “get everyhing for nothing” ventures.

Personally, I think the bigger concern is that too many people will take the cautionary message in this movie too much to heart. I can see this movie reinforcing popular images of magic and the occult arts involving some sort of pact in which a person gives up their lives, youth, soul, or other “thing of value” for power. Unfortunately, this notion is no more realistic than the “something for nothing” concept expressed by other movies.

Of course, the underlying problem behind both concerns is the simple mater that we no longer require our youths to develop the ability to distinguish between fact and fiction, espcially when that fiction is presented to them via a large screen and surround sound.

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