Save Haven :: Grade- D
Release Date :: February 14. 2013
Director :: Lasse Hallstrom
Produced by :: Marty Bowen, Chad Freet, Wyck Godfrey, and Ryan Kavanaugh
Screenplay :: Leslie Bohem, Dana Stevens, Gage Lansky
Running Time :: 115 MINUTES!!!!
Based on ‘Safe Haven’ by Nicholas Sparks
Production Companies :: Relativity Media, Temple Hill Productions
Jo: “The good thing Katie, is that life is full of second chances.”
Katie (Julianne Hough) is on the run. We don’t know who it is she’s running from nor why she’s being chased (…until later in the story, obviously) but she has successfully escaped, boarding a bus headed to Atlanta. She ends up in South Port, North Carolina.
Katie gets a job and stays in a worn down cabin not too far from town. A woman named Jo befriends her, and a man named Alex (Josh Duhamel), a widower with two children whose wife died of cancer, begins showing interest in her. At first, Katie hesitates to accept Alex’s kind gestures, but slowly, and with encouragement from Jo, she learns to trust him. They soon fall in love.
However, what Katie thought she’d left behind is coming back to haunt her. It is revealed that she is running from her husband, an alcoholic and abusive man who has an obsession with Katie, who’s real name is Erin. It is her husband, Kevin (a police officer), that has been trying to find her, even going as far as to posting Wanted signs of Katie for murder, in hopes that other police officers in other states may find her and turn her in. He soon discovers Katie’s location and sets off to find her.
Alex discovers the Wanted poster and recognizes Katie’s face. He confronts & breaks up with her, telling her it is best that she leaves. Katie decides he’s right even though her friend Jo tries convincing her to stay, but Katie won’t hear of it. However, as she is finally getting ready to leave town, Alex shows up and convinces her to stay, professing his love to her, learning the truth about Katie’s husband, and telling Katie he will protect her.
Katie moves in with Alex and his kids, who have warmed up to Katie.
On the 4th of July, Katie’s husband shows up. He spies on Katie, catches her kissing Alex at a party, and he breaks down. He stalks Katie till he discovers where she is staying, and pretty soon, Katie comes face to face with her husband. The house is set on fire and a fight between Katie and Kevin follows.
Alex sees the fire from the distance and runs back to rescue his daughter, who is trapped on the second floor of their house.
Katie struggles with her husband and a gunshot is heard- Kevin is dead. The nightmare is officially over.
Afterward, Katie receives a letter from Alex’s wife (the final twist/shock of the whole movie), telling her she is the one her husband has fallen in love with, and instructing her how to care for her children. The movie ends with Katie and Alex enjoying their happily ever after.
So first and foremost, it was actually pretty difficult writing the movie plot without whincing or giggling to myself… because this movie was pretty awful. I sat down to watch it with a friend after she’d told me this movie was amazing and that I needed to see it… so I watched it out of love for my friend.
I get the vibe that this movie is a combination of Sleeping with the Enemy and a lot of the previous Nicholas Sparks nonsense about a broken, traumatized individual in a small town suddenly finding love.
Hough’s (Katie) and Duhamel’s (Alex) characters have decent chemistry- it’s neither boring nor convincing. It’s a good thing the characters are good looking (it wouldn’t be a Nicholas Sparks movie if they weren’t).
The plot was disturbing if not frustrating, and it felt like I’d seen some of it before in previous movies, only this time with different characters and a slight twist to the usual love story. They should have just titled this movie ‘Sleeping with the Enemy 2,’ by Nicholas Sparks.
The plot twist at the end was supposed to make me feel surprised, if not emotional with tears running down my face… Maybe? Well, I didn’t get there. Instead I only felt even more confused and decided that maybe the main character was suffering trauma from the abuse she’d endured…
…which brings me to a disturbing point: what is it with these romantic Hollywood movies that keeping playing the same nonsense of broken individuals finding wholeness and healing only when they fall in love with another individual? True, love for someone can motivate us to try again, to get better, and to find healing, but this whole thing about couples finding healing in one another from trauma brought on by abuse or whatever other types of harsh heartbreaks? I can’t…
I’d have commended Alex if he’d told Katie, “You should really go and get some therapy, maybe find a support group so you can heal from this properly. I’ll be here to support you on your journey and protect you from danger.”
Speaking of protection… Alex never really protects Katie. The final showdown of this mentally exhausting chick-flick ended with Katie engaging in a hand to hand struggle with her husband. Nothing close to J-Lo’s ‘Enough,’ but somewhere along that line. I had expected a man to man confrontation with Alex finishing Kevin off but instead… Kevin accidentally shoots himself while attempting to kill Katie. Kevin & Alex NEVER fight one another. I’m not kidding.
Note: the book, as usual, contains a different version of the final showdown. Alex AND Katie end up fighting Kevin, who seems even much crazier in the book than in the movie. Either way, the book seems just as bad as the movie. It’s like trying to decide which dog poop is nicer than the other.
Another issue to note was the fact that neither Katie or Alex propose a plan… you know, just in case her lunatic husband does come around? You’d think that after Katie comes clean about her past, and how her husband is out LOOKING for her, she and Alex would start discussing a way to keep her safe… but then of course that would discredit Alex from being the hero of the story-Katie’s knight in shining armor, whose affections and words of love override the reality that an abusive man, who is armed and dangerous, might already be close by.
You never hear of an emergency back up plan, Katie never signs up for self-defense classes, the police aren’t notified that a psycho is looking for Katie, and oh yeah… the house is left unlocked, which makes it easy for intruders to enter, and no walkie-talkies, whistles, or alarms are even in sight.
Tell a household of women, living in a shelter, who’ve been abused by their husbands or B.F.’s, that relocating somewhere without proper protection or plan will keep them completely safe from harm… you’ll most likely get a load of disturbing, if not anxious, looks.
So how did Katie even manage to “defend” herself when she found herself alone and without protection? Simple. Through Hollywood Logic and pure luck.
Anyway, back to that plot twist at the end. Just when I thought this movie couldn’t get any more dramatic than a soap opera, we come to discover that Jo is actually the spirit of Alex’s dead wife. Katie realizes that it was Jo who’d written the letter she read. At this point I’m even more baffled & decide I never want to watch this movie ever again.
I would have given this movie an F if it hadn’t been for the beautiful scenery that reminded me of my vacations in the South, and the music that sparked a little joy in my heart. Seriously, the soundtrack is one of the few highlights of this lousy movie…. which is why there’s YouTube and Pandora so you can skip watching the movie & fast forward to the best part.
PLEASE, think twice before you watch this movie. It paints a distorted view of love and trauma. Plus, I believe it tried too hard to combine both romance and thrill. That was enough to make me cringe.
Thanks for reading!