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Saturday, February 8, 2020

Review: Covenant

Director: Manuel H. Da Silva
Screenplay: Ken Cardwell and Jeff Carr
Year: 2020

Demons! One of the most used creatures in horror cinema because of its evil nature and all the opportunities this opens. Even with their constant appearances, demons are still responsible for the nightmares of many. If this argument doesn’t convince you, I suggest you consider the effect Pazuzu, Valak, and Paimon had on the successful “The Exorcist”, “The Conjuring 2”, and “Hereditary”.

After being notified of his mother’s death, an ex-military soldier returns to the place he grew up. While he takes care of matters related to his mother's death, he starts to sense something dangerous surrounding all this and that now extends towards his own son. To save his son, the ex-soldier must square against demonic forces that have taken an interest in his family.

Starting this review talking about three movies that have left a big impression in horror cinema can create erroneous expectations about "Covenant" and to a certain extent is unfair. Just in the budget, "Covenant" starts with a considerable disadvantage reflected in the movie. As much as they tried to overcome the limited budget using several tricks, it is a real limitation that permeates through the cast, visual effects, and the quality in general. 

One of the tricks with which they try to overcome the limitations the budget presents is by the use of digital images or CGI, that plays against the movie. Considering the visuals proposed by director Manuel H. Da Silva (“The Unleashed”) and the special effects team, there was no better option than to resort to CGI, but the quality of these visuals is poor and greatly affects the general quality of the movie. That these visuals are used extensively only makes matters worse, sometimes being unnecessary, and it seems like the people in charge of these visuals were only trying to have fun with them. 

The story presented on the script of newcomers Ken Cardwell and Jeff Carr falls in a neutral space, where it's neither a gem or an atrocity. The plot has a few interesting parts, but at the same time carries some clunky dialogue and a character and situation development that lacks any sort of logic. Similarly, the acting of Nick Smyth (“The Flying Man”) and Margaryta Soldatova (“Contracts”) reinforces this neutrality by being convincing in some scenes and not doing a good job in others.

Where "Covenant" stands out is in the makeup and in the practical effects. The wounds and other practical effects have an impressive realism and make you wish that they had leaned more towards the practical rather than the digital effects. Most characters related to the demonic presence Nefarion are terrorific and are well used, although as with much of this movie, their presence and actions don't make much sense.

“Covenant” is one of those movies that feels like the creators only had a raw idea of what they wanted to do and they were unfolding the story on the go, the reason why many plot points make little sense and feel like they are added just to keep the story moving. The ending is the clearest example that, even when it holds a few twists and surprises, it’s convoluted and makes no sense at all. If you avoid making sense of the plot and ignore the horrible CGI effects, “Covenant” makes for an interesting movie and little more.

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