"Safe Haven": A Decent Horror Movie, in the Right Light

Oh, so this is why Cobie Smulders wasn't in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. Though she would have been much more fun in that movie, taking a supporting role in director Lasse Hallström's adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks novel Safe Haven was probably a better career movie after The Avengers. Safe Haven's lead is Julianne Hough, playing a woman who adopts a new identity and settles into a small town to hide from a dogged cop on her trail (David Lyons), and perhaps find love and a new life with a sexy widower (Josh Duhamel) and his two adorable moppets (Mimi Kirkland and Noah Lomax). Following her turns in the progressively disastrous Burlesque (2010), Footloose (2011), and Rock of Ages (2012), Hough is a minor revelation in Safe Haven: Freed from the oft-clunky stylization of her previous three films, she demonstrates that she can deliver a relaxed, natural performance when she's just playing a regular person — albeit a regular person with a dark past, and one who can still rock the "Rachel" hairdo. Another welcome surprise is how Safe Haven can be viewed as a horror film: It has a spooky cabin in the woods, a relentless killer, some unexpectedly intense violence, and even a supernatural twist. And, lest we forget, Cobie Smulders.

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