Movie Review: Safe Haven (2013)


The movie’s opening scene shows a young woman (Julianne Hough) fleeing a house holding a bloody knife. She buys a bus ticket, now with short blond hair and leaves the station. A man is shown flashing a police badge and searching buses for her, but she manages to avoid detection. When she arrives in Southport, North Carolina, she introduces herself as Katie and gets a job as a waitress. She buys a rundown house on the edge of town, and meets her neighbour Jo (Cobie Smulders) and they eventually becomes friends. Katie meets Alex Weatley (Josh Duhamel), the convenience store owner, and his two children, Lexie (Mimi Kirkland) and Josh (Noah Lomax). Alex was widowed when his wife died of cancer a few years back, and Josh has some troubles because he was old enough when she passed away to remember and miss his mother. Even though it is obvious that Alex likes Katie, she seems to thaw very reluctantly when it comes to him, but it is impossible to not love Lexie.

After driving Katie home with her groceries Alex notices that she doesn’t have transport. He leaves her a bike with a basket, intending to simplify her life, but she gets angry about it. Jo gently points out that Katie overreacted and she apologizes to Alex afterwards. A few days later they head to the beach on a family trip and later on Alex and Katie start going on dates together. They are soon dating and even Josh starts to enjoy the new addition to his life.

Meanwhile, the cop who was looking for Katie at the bus stop, Kevin Tierney (David Lyons) is still obsessed with finding her. He releases reports saying that she is wanted for a connection to a murder, and the police force in Southport puts up her picture in their police station too. Alex notices the picture and confronts Katie. She tries to tell him the truth but he is horrified that he endangered his children. She nearly leaves but he arrives in time to stop her. She tells him that Kevin is her abusive husband, and that she fled Boston after he nearly killed her. Alex promises that he won’t allow anything to happen to her. Kevin’s boss confronts him with the notice for Katie’s arrest, and discovers that the water bottle Kevin always carries contains vodka. He is asked to hand in his service weapon and badge. Kevin is sure that his neighbor helped Katie flee and starts watching her house obsessively. He breaks in and listens to a phone message where Katie tells her friend that she is okay. Kevin writes down the phone number and realizes that Katie is in Southport. He starts driving there.

On the day of a parade in town Kevin arrives. He is stupendously drunk. He heads into the convenience store and encounters Lexi. She lies to him when he shows her a photo of Katie. He searches the crowd and sees Katie kissing Alex and he becomes very angry. Later that night, Josh and Alex leave Katie and Lexi at home when they go help light the annual fireworks. Katie falls asleep and dreams of Jo telling her Kevin is in town. She wakes up and finds him downstairs. Scared for Lexi, she leads him outside. She begs him to leave town and he pretends to walk away. Katie puts Lexi in the highest room in the house for her protection and tries to contact the police. She sees Kevin dousing the house with petrol and rushes out in time to stop him lighting the house. She throws the lighter in the water but a spark from the fireworks set the house alight with Lexi in it. She starts struggling with Kevin, and Alex sees the fire and Lexi stuck in the house and rushes back. He climbs onto the roof and breaks a window to get Lexi out. Katie and Kevin are struggling and he tries to shoot her but she turns the gun on him, killing him.

Days later, Alex promises Josh that they will rebuild the house. He gives a letter to Katie that his wife wrote to his future wife and she reads it. Upon reading it she realizes that Jo is Alex’s dead wife and that a ghost has been visiting her all the time she’s been in Southport.

Rating: 6.5/10

So I read the book, which naturally meant I had to see the movie. It took me ages to get to actually watching Safe Haven, which pretty strange considering how much I love schmaltzy movies and books (not even ashamed)

Save Haven was a good adaption to the book. Alex didn’t have prematurely grey hair, but I thought it silly in the book so it wasn’t in the least offensive in the movie either. I am sure that Katie goes from blonde to brown, not the other way around in the book, but can be wrong, but that isn’t really an issue either. Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough had some good chemistry going between them which is obviously very important in a romance film. The kids cast were pretty damn adorable.

Rotten Tomatoes thought that Safe Haven sucked, but I have to disagree. Movies shouldn’t always be made to be critically acclaimed. I think it is important to produce movies that appeals to the general public too – that is how it becomes a financial success.

Safe Haven was based on the bestselling book by Nicholas Sparks with the same name. The movie stayed true to the book and that really impressed me. Duhamel and Hough have really good chemistry between them and they made a really good couple on screen. I’ve seen Duhamel in a few films but this is the first time I’ve seen Julianne Hough in a movie where her acting was actually good (before Rock of Ages, which I thought was a bit floppy, I thought her claim to fame was dating Ryan Seacrest – which isn’t something I would be proud of FYI).

The best performance however needs to go to David Lyons as Kevin Tierney. I could not have cast a better actor or thought of how he was portrayed in any way. His descent into madness was excellently done.

Have you seen the movie? Read the book? Let me know what you think!