Review: Safe Haven – The Story Actually Holds Your Attention

On December 27, 2015 ION Television aired this 2013 film which, though a successful theatrical release, looks more like made for television.  The pairing of male model / film star Josh Duhamel with Julianne Alexandra Hough (she appeared uncredited in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,) has chemistry and the story actually holds your attention, though you’ve been here before.  Take your pick, Sleeping with the Enemy or Farrah Fawcett’s critically acclaimed 1984 romp, The Burning Bed, it is your familiar battered wife escaping the husband and seeking anonymity film which tugs at the heart strings, but – and this is what surprised me – looks more like one of the Christmas “chick flick” films (it’s not a Christmas movie; just has the same feel and vibe) aired on Ion television than a major theatrical release.

The 116 minute film, distributed by Relativity Media, did twenty-six and a quarter million internationally and 71,349,120.00 domestically, which I find stunning. Swedish director Lars Sven “Lasse” Hallström also put together The Cider House Rules, Channing Tatum’s Dear John and all but 7 of the Abba videos. Think about it, the director was behind the majority of all the videos filmed by superstar group Abba.

When Erin Tierney leaves Boston and her drunk, abusive Boston-based cop/detective husband, she becomes Katie Feldman and seeks asylum, if  you will, in Southport, North Carolina.  The deranged hubby, Kevin Tierney (played by Australian actor David Lyons engaged in something “beyond obsession,” to quote Mrs. Doubtfire spying on Pierce Brosnan and Sally Field in that classic, and he starts badgering Erin/Katie’s parents and sending out a false nationwide APB saying that Erin Tierney is wanted for questioning about a “murder,” which, of course, never happened.

There are so many avenues where this film could have gone but doesn’t.  Still, it generated close to one hundred million dollars on a budget less than a third of that amount, and with decent acting and visuals, it resonated with audiences while simultaneously getting panned by some critics, if you are to believe Wikipedia.   Somehow, if they could resurrect Kevin Tierney, or find that he had an equally obsessive twin brother, a sequel that is superior to Safe Haven could put a new emphasis on it.  We, as film scholars, obsess over these things the way that Detective Kevin Tierney obsessed over his wife, Erin, after he beat the living daylights out of her.    Interesting television watching, just too bad Director Hallström didn’t find a way to stick an ABBA video or two in the movie for the patrons of the variety store to watch.   Hallström also directed ABBA: the Movie.

Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for,, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.