Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Safe Haven (Part 2)

Click here for Part 1!

Erin- ah, it feels weird calling her that, let's go back to Katie- moves in with Alex as they settle down for their impromptu family life, Josh now onboard with Katie being in his life. Awww, touching! Boozy McAsshole rolls into town, stopping at Alex's store to buy some water where he asks Lexie if she's seen Katie. She says no, as she's instantly suspicious of the drunken piece of shit like anyone would be. Kevin leaves, and Lexie never thinks to mention any of this to her father. I mean, why would she? It's not like some scumbag asking about her mommy-to-be is worth bringing up, right?

We cut to the town's Fourth of July parade as Kevin loads up on vodka and brings his gun along as he continues his search, grabbing every blonde woman in sight. At this point, wouldn't SOMEONE call the cops? He's not exactly being inconspicuous here, especially in a tiny town where everyone knows everyone else. He finally finds Katie dancing with Alex and the kids, but doesn't act. We get a glimpse of Jo watching him, looking concerned. Out of all the people, Jo's the only one who notices this guy? What is Jo's deal anyway? Up til now, she's just been this really bland character who pops up to give Katie advice and then vanishes for large stretches of time.

Later that night, Alex and Josh go out to watch the fireworks while Katie stays at the shop with a sick Lexie. After Lexie falls asleep, Katie goes out to the dock to watch the fireworks when Jo shows up and warns her about Kevin. HOW THE HELL DOES SHE KNOW ABOUT HIM?! Is she an undercover Internal Affairs agent or something?  Or... hold on, Katie wakes up on the couch next to Lexie. So... that was a dream? Is Jo like her guardian angel? No, that can't be because earlier we saw a scene of her and Katie walking around downtown on a crowded street talking. Katie goes into the shop's main area where Kevin is waiting for her, accompanied by his creeper theme music.

She asks him to leave and he does so... but then starts dousing the shop with gasoline. Katie tries to call Alex but doesn't get an answer, so grabs the phone book which falls open to a page with 911 on it in HUGE LETTERS but she starts dialing some longer number instead. Sigh.  Katie instead runs out to confront Kevin, trying to take his lighter away before he can light the gas. She shoves him off the dock and into the water, but this is all in vain as nearby fireworks set the gas on fire anyway. The shop goes up in flames, Lexie trapped inside. Across the way Alex sees this, running off to help.

Kevin dives out of the water Friday The 13th style and starts attacking Katie while Alex climbs up the outside of the shop and rescues his daughter. Kevin gets on top of Katie and starts punching her, but as we saw earlier she's no damsel in distress so she grabs his gun and shoots him IN THE FUCKING FACE WITH IT!  HELLS YEAH! ...although despite being a pointblank range, she doesn't get a drop of blood on her. Maybe his blood is nothing but vodka at this point so we just can't tell she's covered in it because it's clear.

Hours later Kevin's body is hauled away as Alex and Katie go through the remains of his shop. Thankfully the letters from his wife magically survived the fire, as his wife must have written them on that really expensive fireproof paper you can buy in small towns. He finds a picture of his wife but they don't show it because it's not like they've bothered to even say her name or anything, so why bother trying to establish her now?

An indeterminable time later Katie and Jo are walking along the docks, Jo announcing she's moving as it's time for her to go. It's time? Is she really a guardian angel? That's EXACTLY what this feels like right now. Later in the day Alex finds one of the letters his wife left is addressed “To Her”, so he gives it to Katie to read.  Katie reads it, finding it full of generic advice to take care of Alex and her kids. Blah blah blah, but then we get the bombshell: a picture of her and it's MOTHERFUCKING JO. WHAT. THE. ACTUAL. FUCK.

Ohhhhhhh WOW. That just happened. There is so much about this that makes no sense I’m not even sure where to begin. First of all, there is NOTHING to set this up. Nothing. True, we never see Jo interact with anyone else but then explain that scene where her and Katie are walking around downtown talking in FULL VIEW of people? Wouldn't someone notice Katie having a full conversation to thin air? Or how about when Katie first meets Jo, finding her peeking into her windows. She scares her! What kind of ghost can you sneak up on and startle? And this isn't a Sixth Sense situation where Jo doesn't know she's dead, she CLEARLY does because they show a montage of her secretly watching Katie throughout the entire movie.

This makes Katie's dream/vision of Jo warning her about Kevin even more incoherent, because once again how did Jo know about Kevin let alone what he looked like? Does this mean she'd been watching Katie since Boston, somehow picking her out thanks to Ghost Powers? Did she somehow lure her to Southport to hook up with her husband? Then why was she looking in her windows?! RHAAARGH! Wouldn't Katie have mentioned her bestie to Alex at some point too? That would have been an interesting conversation, certainly more entertaining than any of their other mindless patter.

Instead of freaking the fuck out over this revelation, Katie calmly walks over to her new family and kisses Alex. “Yeah, I just learned I've been talking to a ghost. Pfft, big deal. I get to see Josh Duhamel naked on a daily basis now!”. I'm pretty sure Katie is as freaking insane as this movie is because she doesn't even FLINCH at what she's just learned. Now I totally see how she wound up with Kevin in the first place.

Cue the credits.

I'll be honest, when I chose this movie to review I had NO IDEA what the ending was but I did know it had a huge WTF Ending. I had just got done watching the recently released The One I Love (which is undeniably the best film of 2014 and you should absolutely go watch it NOW), which has an INTELLIGENT storyline twist that intrigued me to do some research about it. In my reading I found a link mentioning Safe Haven as the worst way ever to do a plot twist so I HAD to watch it.  I thought the twist they were referring to was going to be Kevin being Katie's husband, which for the first time had me questioning the integrity of the internet because I thought it was kind of intriguing. Well, THANK GOD for Ghost Jo to restore my faith in the internet!

Let's talk about twist endings for a moment, as they've gotten a really bad rap the past decade thanks to M. Night Shyamalan and his legions of imitators. A GOOD twist ending is something that is subtlety hinted at throughout the entire movie, so when it finally happens it hits you like a Mack truck. Examples of this are Memento, Fight Club, the aforementioned Sixth Sense, and the grand daddy of them all, The Usual Suspects. I'm not saying any of these are perfect (and some kind of fall apart with repeated viewings), but they all follow the rule of sprinkling clues early on that something is up.

Safe Haven is not one of these. I rewatched every single Jo scene looking for anything, and while there is the fact she never talks to anyone, there's absolutely NOTHING to indicate she was a GHOST. This is the exact same kind of hack screenwriting that has been plaguing Hollywood since the Sixth Sense made a ton of money doing it and obviously it's just getting worse.

Even more baffling is who directed this: Lasse Hallström, a critically acclaimed and Academy Award nominated director who used to have a very respectable body of work until he jumped aboard the Nicholas Sparks' gravy train by making Dear John and now this monstrosity. I really get the impression he does not give Fuck One and just wants that fat paycheck, because no way the man who directed What's Eating Gilbert Grape and The Cider House Rules could make a movie THIS incompetent.

Oddly enough though, I still give this a recommendation because something this insane HAS to be seen to be believed. My biggest regret about watching this is I didn't see it opening night in the theater just to hear the audience reaction to the ending, because I'm sure that was 100% worth the price of admission alone.  Fun fact: did you know Julianne Hough, the actress who played Katie, had a cameo in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone as Random Hogwarts Schoolgirl? I like to think Safe Haven takes place in the same universe as that, which actually WOULD explain her complete nonchalance to the existence of ghosts since she grew up around them.