A fresh show based on a Stephen King novel and created by the master of horror is hard to resist. So even if its supernatural story didn't really intrigue me I decided to give it a chance. Moreover quickly checking out the cast I instantly thought the performers were convincing. And my intuition was right because they all succeeded in making their respective characters grow on us. Emily Rose portrays Audrey Parker, a fresh FBI agent opened to unusual cases with an orphan trauma. Her profile was obviously inspired by The X-Files protagonists, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, because she's both emotional and rational. Her enigmatic boss also reminded of their own. But despite the obvious and welcome inspiration she has her own identity. In fact she reminded me of Julia Stiles, the blonde next door but with acting skills.
Swimming around her we have Duke Crocker, played by Eric Balfour. The irresistible fisher playboy ? I don't know because there's just something strange about his face and think casting him for such a show was a bold move. In the pool there's also Lucas Bryant as Nathan Wournos, a local police officer she has to team up with to solve her first case in Haven. Their first scene should immediately puzzle you and even if we quickly got an explanation of what happened it didn't make it less exciting. Let's also not forget the other bizarre characters involved in their unusual journey. Indeed from the creepy but friendly duo to the local weirdos Haven is definitely a gallery of weird portraits. They should remind you of productions like Carnivale and Big Fish even if the writers gave their profiles a science fiction twist. Nevertheless they still remained accessible and natural enough to make you care for them. In fact I can say that I instantly fall in love with these odd inhabitants.
But these characters would have been nothing without a proper environment to evolve and it's exactly why Haven was designed and imagined. The lost little town with cliffs and shadow waters is an old recipe but it's definitely a good one when it comes to Haven. There're Sunnydale, Smallville and Eureka but now we can also count on Haven. From its wood houses with red roofs to its rotten boats I found the sets quite authentic. Of course I suspect the show is actually filmed on site but it was a smart decision because your immersion should be total. You don't watch it, you live it. The process was so smooth that I didn't want it to end. First the story was twisted and well written. Some scenes were even sensational, specially the one on the beach. However I found the editing sharp at times and wish they had done a better job on it because some intense and surreal moments deserved more attention. An other element I enjoyed were the dialogs. In fact I consider them as the show's strongest asset. There were full of wit and the ones between Parker and Bryant were just delightful. To sum things I was very impressed and I can't even remember the last time it actually happened ! Well done.
Despite its numerous qualities the show has also a few flaws. For example when it comes to King I expect horror or at least to be scared like never before. But there was nothing dark about Haven. In fact the contrary considering the number of times I laughed. Moreover the scenes that could have been frightening were too short or cut sharp by the hasty editor. Even the supernatural parts were questionable because of the just decent visual effects. Since Jurassic Park I've been fascinated by weather as a pivotal ingredient to make scenes more dramatic but here the digital effects ruined the whole experience. From the fog to the storm you can only be disappointed. The last one was specially disastrous and would have been ridiculous without the great supporting cast. If budget was an issue I think they should have filmed these apocalyptic scenes at night with flash lights, like in The X-Files. It wouldn't have been original but definitely brought darkness to the over shiny ambiance. I also have to mention the soundtrack because when you notice it well it's either good or bad. In this case I found some piano ballads deceptive. As usual I noticed a subliminal advertisment for some famous search engine. How annoying and useless !
Otherwise these few cons shouldn't prevent you from enjoying Haven for what it is, a good supernatural show. However I couldn't help reading the upcoming summaries and it seems the writers have chosen an episodic format and I just can't bare it ! So it seems the investigations of the week are back and as often I anticipate boredom, even if the writing team proved it has what it takes and the cliffhanger was surprising. So as a standalone episode I think Welcome to Haven was good but it didn't convince me to stay. With a pure heavy format it would have definitely been an other long term story, a more captivating one.