My only regret about seeing Safe Haven wasn't just seeing it in the first place, but that I didn't take a big group of friends to experience this utter madness with me. When it was over all I wanted to do was discuss those enormous and plentiful plot holes, the outdated settings (seriously, did no one in Southport own a cell phone?), and that totally banana pants crazy twist ending. But, now that some of you have witnessed this piece of cinematic lunacy for yourselves over this Valentine's weekend, I can talk about it you guys. That said, if you haven't seen Safe Haven yet and would like to remain unspoiled, leave now as there are MASSIVE, CRAZY SPOILERS AHEAD.
If you are still reading that means one thing, you saw Safe Haven and are still trying to wrap your mind the ending in which Katie/Erin (Julianne Hough) discovers that her friendly neighbor Jo (Cobie Smulders) turned out to be a... g-g-g-g-ghost! Not just any ghost though, the ghost of her boyfriend Alex's (Josh Duhamel) deceased wife and mother of his children Lexi and Josh. I'd call this a record-scratching moment, but I'm not sure record players have even made it to Southport yet, so maybe a phonograph-interrupting moment.
Now, here's why this is so creepy and ridiculous for a bevy of reasons. First, let's look back at how Jo and Katie (I'm dropping the Erin, as we know her as Katie for most of the flick) met. Jo is on the porch of Katie's dilapidated house, peering in through the window, which is completely stupid in and of itself. Isn't one of the main advantages of being a ghost is that you can just kind of go in places the still living can't, like the mall after closing hours? I gather Jo was just doing recon at this point: who was this mysterious blonde girl making eyes at my husband? Can she be trusted around my precocious youngsters?
Now, the answer to that immediately should have been no, as Katie is someone who literally arrives in town with a duffel bag and nothing else and whose idea of a home repair to fix a giant hole in her floor was to paint over it. (Wha?) But Jo seemed to like something about Katie and started to nudge her to be with her widowed husband when he started to do grand, romantic gestures for her like...drop of a bike in her driveway in the middle of the night. (Whaaa?)
Okay, fine, so Jo just wanted Alex to find love again and for her kids to have a mother figure, fair enough. But does that mean Jo, WHO ONLY KATIE COULD SEE (more on that in a bit), used her ghostly powers to get Katie to not get back on the bus and stay in Southport when she escaped from home (more on that in a bit, too)? After all, Jo revealed herself to have some ghostly powers throughout, even if we weren't aware that was it at the time.
For instance, when Katie's abusive, alcoholic husband Kevin (David Lyons) tracks her down and spots her gallivanting around town with Alex, Jo appears out of nowhere like a damn ghost to warn her that "he's here." Wait, how the hell did she know what Kevin looked like? Better yet, Katie never explicitly told Jo about her past with Kevin, so how did she know who he was and that he was trouble? Now, Katie did open up to Alex about her abuse from Kevin as they laid in bed together one night. So does that mean Jo was just hanging around for that conversation and put the pieces together? If so, creepy. Way creepy.
But that wasn't even my biggest issue with the story line of Jo, the friendly, if not romance meddling ghost. When Katie was falling in love with Alex, how did she never bring up her only friend in town to him? Wouldn'tshe, at some point, have told Alex that she and her friend Jo went for a long walk in the afternoon? I think the conversation probably would have gone a little something like this:
Katie: "I hung out with my friend Jo today. We only hang out at my house, she is my neighbor, though I've never actually seen her place."
Alex: "Jo? Oh my gosh, that's my dead wife's name. The one who died from cancer, remember?"
Katie: "Oh my gosh, that's so strange. Anyway, Jo kept talking in ominous, blanket statements like 'The nice thing about life is you get second chances.'"
Alex: "Okay, that's really weird. Just out of curiosity, what does she look like?"
Katie: "Well, she's brunette and very beautiful. You ever watch How I Met Your Mother? Wait, who am I kidding, no one in this stupid quaint and sleepy town owns a television. Anyway, she looks like the one who plays Robin."
Alex, takes out a picture of his dead wife Jo: "You mean...she looks like her?"
Katie: "Um, holy s**t, that is her!"
Alex: "Holy s**t."
Holy s**t. Also, never mind the fact that Katie and Jo went on a ton of walks through town, meaning Katie was more or less talking to herself and that didn't seem to alarm the townsfolk at all. "You wanna get a coffee? No?" or "How come you haven't left town for so long?" Oh right, because you're a ghost. Why couldn't Alex or his children see their beloved Jo, but Katie could? She definitely has a sixth sense, yes?
NEXT: More WTF moments from Safe Haven
And, sure, the spirit of the dead wife plot twist is completely insane and utterly terrifying in and of itself (when Katie put two and two together, how did she not freak out? Wouldn't she have to tell Alex at some point she'd been communicating with his dead wife?) but that was hardly the only plot hole or ridiculous scene in the movie. After all, this is a Nicholas Sparks story, so the absurdity is plentiful. Here are some other WTF moments from Safe Haven to ponder:
- When we still think that Katie has murdered her husband and is on the run and that Kevin is just a cop determined to track down this killer and bring justice, he relentlessly questions Katie's neighbors regarding her whereabouts. He introduces himself as a cop and asks a kindly elderly woman if she recognizes Katie, which would make sense if he also wasn't their neighbor and he wouldn't be talking about Katie to them like she was a total stranger. He wouldn't have to piece together the clues that the neighbor actually definitely knows who Katie is, because that's his neighbor, too. They all totally know each other. All that said, you have to appreciate any movie where cherries are the smoking gun (wait...the neighbor has a cherry tree...and my wife made cherry pie...got it!) even if it makes absolutely no sense.
- When Katie is making her great escape, she bumps into a stranger at a busy Boston bus depot. Not only does the man recognize her face when he's shown a picture by Kevin (honestly, who the hell can remember one of many faces they see in day-to-day city life), but the stranger also suggests she had blonde hair. If that was the case, that he bumped into a pretty blond girl, how would he recognize this other pretty brunette girl? Ah yes, because he is a Convenient Plot Device.
- Katie, despite completely changing her identity and presumably not wanting to leave a paper trail, somehow buys a house. Which name did she use on the deed? Wouldn't a Google search have come up that Erin, her real name, now resided at this crappy house in Southport? Better yet, how in the world did she buy it after, like, three shifts at her waitressing job?
- When Alex and Katie have a romantic dinner the entire waitstaff seems to disappear, where did they go? Wouldn't they have locked up? The music is still playing, so someone still must be there? Why didn't this totally freak Alex and Katie out? Did they dine and ditch when their ride showed up? Jerks.
- Okay, fine, Alex wasn't thrilled about the idea of Katie being around his kids when he just thought she was a murderer and then definitely let it slide when she became an actual murderer, but how does he explain the whole name switcheroo to his kids? Will they continue to call her Katie? Or will she go back to being Erin and they all just sidestep that whole murder thing? I mean she is cute and the kids like her so much, so...
Like I said, this movie is a totally bonkers ghost visitor/murder mystery tale that is somehow masquerading as a sappy romantic drama. What did you think of the ending and the numerous plot holes in Safe Haven? Share in the comments section below.
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[Photo credit: Relativity Media]
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