Monday, November 2, 2009


the wife is currently teaching a unit in her eleventh and twelfth grade resource english classes about the salem witch trials. so far, they've read THE SCARLET LETTER and they've watched THE CRUCIBLE. it's a good unit. it's a profitable study in america's literary, religious, and superstitious past.

sometimes the students say really dumb stuff to my wife - their teacher - like, "mrs., this stuff don't make no sense. this ain't got nuthin' to do with my life."

the my wife says something brilliant back like, "well, let's think about this. have you ever met someone who believed something different than you? or have you ever been wrongly accused of something? or have you ever felt like an outsider and like all the insiders were against you?"

then the kids bite their lips or roll their eyes. and then they say, "well, yeah, but, mrs. . . . . . "

and my wife says, "then this unit about the salem witch trials applies perfectly to you. let's move on."

i'm telling you: this woman can verbally burn those kids at the stake before they even realize their shoes are smoking!

*   *   *   *   *

this past week an uber-excited eleventh grade girl comes up to my wife and says, "ooo! mrs. still! i have this movie at home that is just like THE CRUCIBLE!"

my wife, ever compassionate and ready to encourage the youth, says enthusiastically, "well, bring it to me and i'll watch it."

so the student did bring it. and my wife did watch it. and i watched it with her. and we laughed through most of THE COVENANT at how totally just unlike it is from THE CRUCIBLE. 

bless the poor kid's heart for trying.

*   *   *   *   *

THE COVENANT is the perfect example of a good story ruined by a horrible film. good concept. great massachusetts' landscape and antique setting. potentially nice bridge between classic gothic fiction, a la hawthorne and poe, and modern dark masters of the macabre, ie. neil gaiman and stephanie meyers. (that latter name was a joke.) however, all the promise in the film was completely overshadowed by ridiculous exposition, contrived dialogue, bad acting, a constant eyeful of young male and fresh female abdomen and arse, and enough melodrama to scoop in a bowl and dip with ruffled tater chips.

i will give the producers this: they knew their niche market. aimed at a dramatic, tasteless high school audience, the people behind THE COVENANT banked on their viewers having recently studied the salem witch trials. even though the salem witch trials is merely nodded to two maybe three times in the bleak chatter of confession wafer-thin characters, their aim proved true as illustrated by latonya's student's enthusiasm. this is where the failing american education system meets a dull-minded hollywood, and they get totally sloshed out behind the prom on mad-dog 20-20.

there is one seemingly redemptive aspect of the film: laura ramsey from THE RUINS, which was one of my top films of 2008. ramsey offered a piercingly authentic performance in THE RUINS that rivaled jena malone's starring role in the same film. but even ramsey could not work a single fleck of magical pixiedust out of THE COVENANT'S script. give rembrandt a palate wheel of skittle spit watercolors, and he may only produce a skittle spit watercolor. give laura ramsey THE COVENANT, and she still cleared more after taxes than i will in the next five years combined.

i give THE COVENANT 1 spider in the nostril out of 5. ridiculous. trite. sinfully spell-less. i felt bad the young lady to receive her film back from latonya. for all my wife's fine qualities, she is not a good actress. and i'm not sure she could have thanked this child for the dvd loan with a straight face.

some secrets are better drowned in the river than displayed prominently across our faces. i praise my wife for her inability to lie, even to protect the self-respect of the youth.


John Barber said...

Sadly, all you've done is made me add this to the netflix queue. There is no better review than a 1 out of 5. There is no worse review than a middlin' one.

So does one chew one color of skittles at a time and then spit? Or multiple colors? Is that how you get your tertiary colors? I mean, Rembrandt's gonna need chartreuse at some point, right?

Great review. Can't wait to watch it in between Arrested Development episodes...

the hamster said...

john - you're right: this was a good review. and, you're right, there seems to be no better recommendation than a 1 out of 5.

in fact, i know you'll see it and go, "well, it wasn't that bad, even though it wasn't that good either." and then we'll move on and talk about something really important like sushi and sex talks and jamie lee curtis.

dang the juxtaposition!

personally, i would go one skittle color at a time. then again, i'm no rembrandt.

myleswerntz said...

Should we start leaving TWO sets of ratings? One for the quality of the film, and one for how highly we recommend it be watched? In that case, TOXIC AVENGER would score a 3/5 on the first (I mean, seriously--did anyone really think Melvin and Toxie were the same actor?), but a resounding 5/5 on the latter (I mean, seriously, it's over the top, gruesome, and unbelievable).

Anonymous said...

Okay, here's my question. I completely agree that this movie was utter crap (I can't believe I watched the 3/4 of it I caught on The Movie Channel). However, what makes this bad movie "bad" and other bad movies (like MEGA SHARK VS. GIANT OCTOPUS) "good?" Does it have something to do with the fact that THE COVENANT takes itself seriously even when it is crap, but the latter does not?
Just wondering.

the hamster said...

wonderstuff - exactly.