Pop Culture Pet Peeve: The unnecessary ghost twist

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Image Credit: James Bridges

The other week, in my holiday viewing, I re-watched an old Paul Walker film I own called Noel. It’s yet another cheesy Christmas movie about a number of strangers whose lives all intertwine on Christmas Eve, but for the time being, it was exactly what I wanted. However, I hadn’t seen it in a few years, and I had forgotten that it included a “twist.” Spoiler alert: Robin Williams plays a kind ex-priest who bonds with Susan Sarandon’s sad single older woman … or so it seems. At the end of the film, we find out Charlie (Williams) is actually about 30 years older than he seemed, and this entire time, he’s been unconscious in a bed at a geriatric home. Essentially, Sarandon bonded with a ghost.

I tend to let that sort of angel/ghost stuff slide with Christmas movies, but in Noel‘s case, it felt incredibly  unnecessary. The story would’ve had the same amount of impact if he had just been a nice guy who helped out a lonely woman. Where is the benefit in making him a ghost?

Perhaps a better example of my feelings on this would be Safe Haven. I am not a reader of Nicholas Sparks, so I went into this film last Valentine’s Day with no knowledge of what was waiting for me, other than the obvious things you can expect from Sparks — rain, tears, drama, drama, drama. So when the end of the movie rolled around and it was revealed that one of the characters named Jo, who had befriended Julianne Hough’s Katie, was actually the dead mother of Alex’s (Josh Duhamel) kids, it caught me completely off guard. Not only did it feel too dramatic, but once again, I didn’t see how the film would’ve suffered from not including that.

Plus, now whenever I re-watch the film — like I did recently — I ask too many questions. “So is Julianne Hough talking to herself right now?” “Why is no one noticing?” I hate this twist for making me over-think a Nicholas Sparks film!

For me, the love story of Safe Haven was enough. The letters from Jo to her kids and to her husband’s future girlfriend were a nice touch, but they were enough. The ghost factor tainted the rest of the film for me a little bit. I will admit that it didn’t bother me as much in re-watching it, probably because I knew it was coming, but I’m not sure of how much value it added.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good ghost twist when I feel it really adds value to the film. I also love the film Ghost. However, I feel like, with certain movies, they’re adding a twist just to add a twist. And in my opinion, not every film needs a twist and certainly not a supernatural one.

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