A thirteen and a half minute short, Safe Haven is described by its writer and director Carl Sundström (Documenting the Witch Path, Reportage November) as “A depressed woman’s elegy from the other side of the grave”. So you know going in this probably isn’t going to be a feel-good movie. And it isn’t, it’s just shy of a quarter-hour of strong visuals portraying depression and madness.
From the opening shots that speak of violence and bloodshed, the film plays rough. The voiceover by the unnamed woman (Signe Elvin-Nowak) and the sounds of what must have occurred here only add to the effect of the footage. These are also intercut among the film’s quieter moments of despair to good effect.
The most chilling thing about Safe Haven is that it is a tale rooted in real, everyday horror. The doctor that should be helping her ridicules and belittles her. Her child’s father accuses her of, among other things, “turning my newborn son against me”. It’s also strongly hinted that he beats her. It’s no surprise that things come to the end they do.
Safe Haven doesn’t fill in all the details, you have to connect some of the dots yourself. But it makes the story clear enough that you can do it easily enough if you’re paying attention. And you should be paying attention because this is the kind of situation that happens too often in reality.
The film’s excellent cinematography, editing and sound work just add to the effect. I’d suggest having something cheerful to watch ready after viewing Safe Haven. You’ll want it to try to lighten the mood it will leave you with. A depressed feeling that lingers well after the credits.
Shot in 2017, Safe Haven is just now being sent out to festivals. You can keep up with screenings via its Facebook page.