The WB may be dead, but its influx of supernatural teenage dramas (“Charmed,” “Smallville,” “Roswell”) lives on. With some brawny teenage leads and plenty of high school angst, “The Covenant” could have easily worked in the network’s primetime lineup.

Angela Cesere
So, that thing about hairy palms? Maybe a little true. (Courtesy of Screen Gems)

Predictably, it flops at feature length. The set-up: Four hunky warlocks blessed with magical powers inherited from their Salem-witch-trial-surviving ancestors investigate the mysterious death of a fellow high school student. Suspense would presumably ensue if the plot twists weren’t all obvious and the melodrama (alcoholic parents) wasn’t worthy of unintentional laughter.

Add lackluster acting by the pretty leads, and you’ve got a whole lot of bland. This brood of warlocks does little more than stalk around in silhouette, play a few tricks on some ignorant townies and generally come across as pouty Express models. There’s no direct nudity, but the boundaries of beefcake screen time for a PG-13 rating are definitely pushed with excessive bedtime sweats, some locker room chats and a few inevitable girls in undies.

Make no mistake: This is not horror. This is horror-lite, explicitly designed for the sleepover giggles of thrill-adverse high school girls.

While sharing similarities with a half-dozen films and TV shows from the past 20 years, “The Covenant” borrows most heavily from the late-’80s classic “The Lost Boys,” which followed another small hood of brothers joined by the paranormal – in their case, vampirism. While that film excelled at being a witty look at ’80s youth culture and a fresh take on archaic vampire films, “The Covenant” fails to provide any meaningful look at contemporary youth. At only one moment toward the end of the film does it appear to reach for a higher allegory, but that too is quickly lost to an absurd plot development, and the whole mess settles back into a meaningless look at well-fashioned six packs.

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars

The Covenant
At the Showcase and Quality 16
Screen Gems

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