This week marks the DVD and Blu-ray debut of Safe Haven, the critically drubbed Nicholas Sparks adaptation starring that girl from Dancing With the Stars and that dude from the Transformers movies. Normally, this would not be worth noting! But there’s something else that’s special about Safe Haven: it’s got one of the most utterly bananas crazy “twist” endings you’ve ever seen. Ever since The Usual Suspects blew everyone’s mind in ’95, and The Sixth Sense followed suit four years later, moviemakers have been trying their damnedest to create shocking third-act reveals that change everything we’ve seen before, and send us out of the theater reeling. Instead, most of them are befuddling, laughable, or just plain stupid. Here are a few examples (with a rather obvious spoiler alert).
The film: Safe Haven
The twist: Secret ghost character!
For most of Safe Haven’s running time, it’s pretty standard, boilerplate Nicholas Sparks stuff: Girl with a sketchy past (Julianne Hough) moves to a small town, falls in love with a handsome dude (Josh Duhamel), and makes a new friend (Cobie Smulders). It all progresses about as you expect, with the boy and the girl falling in love, or what passes for falling in love at the movies (soft music, twinkly montages, cornball dialogue, etc). And then, you find out that our protagonist’s new BFF is a ghost. No, seriously! She’s the dead wife of our girl’s new boyfriend, who considerately stuck around to make sure he found a good one to be his next wife. It’s an out-of-nowhere supernatural twist in what has, to that point, been a very straightforward, realistic bit of storytelling (or as realistic as Sparks gets). “This is one of the most insane twists that I’ve ever seen in a movie,” wrote The Huffington Post’s Mike Ryan. “Not because it’s a great twist, but because it’s so out of left field. Actually, the rather pedestrian notion of ‘left field’ doesn’t do this justice. It’s more out of left of left field — you know, where the ball boy sits waiting for foul balls to scoop up and toss into the stands. It’s as if that guy all of a sudden came up with this twist.”