“ Genre: Drama / Suitable for 18 years and over / Director: Susan Montford / Actors: Kim Basinger, Lukas Haas, Craig Sheffer, Erika-Shaye Gair, Luis Chavez ... / DVD released 2008-10-27 at Optimum Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: PAL „
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I bought this DVD because I like films where normal people get into unusual, dangerous situations and watch as they fight for their life to get out of them and stay with them all the way whilst they trawl through hectic car chases, muddy forests with bloody, ripped attire with threats of torture or death and hope with bated breath that they come through it all with delayed action hero abilities and deal with the baddies with good over evil aplomb. The villains chasing them must be vicious enough for you to be vilified by them and for you to hope they get their just desserts in the end by our hero/heroine.
This movie however disappointed me somewhat.
The film, made in 2008, opens around Christmastime with an anxious, unhappy almost depressive suburban housewife Della Myers (Kim Basinger) who although lives in a pretty, well-to-do suburban house and everything on the outside looks rosy she harbours the life of a battered wife who is both emotionally and physically scarred by her overbearing, abusive husband who constantly berates her on the lack of her domestic skills and has a row with her regarding the state of untidiness in their home. Her husband, Kenneth Myers played by 80s hearthrob, Craig Sheffer, almost hits Della in the face amid his anger but steals himself when his two children appear on the stair. The husband seems to control Della and she is frightened of him.
Although disburbed by the incident and in an emotional state Della tends to her children as it is near Christmastime and she wants them to feel happy, excited, loved and secure and to keep the sordidness of her marriage away from them. The children seem to sense her unhappiness and have a childish empathy with her as they too are living in an unquiet home.
After Della puts her two children to bed she decides to do a little Christmas shopping and to buy wrapping paper and drives to her local mall. Whilst in the car she lights up a cigarette and has a phone call with her friend regarding her going to a class that evening one of them being for learning how to be a mechanic hence the toolbox in her car. These two acts suggests some form of escapism and something she does off her own back and in secret without her domineering husband being aware trying to keep some form of herself intact after her self esteem is constantly put down and leaving her a shadow of her former self which seems to both sadden and depress her.
As she reaches the mall's car park she struggles to find a parking space. She notices that a car has taken up two parking spaces which she feels is selfish and in her annoyance leaves a note. As she arrives in the mall she bumps into an old friend who seems to find great pleasure in looking down on Della and showing off her new sexy purchase of lingerie for her husband something which Della feels uncomfortable with and on top of this Della when making the purchase for the wrapping paper her card is declined and she has to struggle for the change in her pocket to pay for it leading to more humiliation and low-self esteem.
As Della goes back to the car park it is completely deserted and the note she has put on the other car is gone. As she goes to drive away the other car on which she left the note pulls up behind her and she cannot pull out. She gets out of the car to confront the gang of four who consist of, Huey (Jamie Starr), Vingh (Leonard Wu), and Tomás (Luis Chávez)--led by Chuckie (Lukas Haas). A security guard intervenes but is shot by Chuckie in the ensuing standoff. As the gang realizes that they have committed a murder, Della manages to start her car and drive away. They follow her, intending to kill her as she is the only witness. She crashes her car in a development area nearby a forest. She takes a road flare and a toolbox out of the car and hides behind a dredger.
From this moment on Della flees into the forest with just her toolbox as a weapon of defence. She has to defend herself throughout in order not to be killed. Will she make it, will she have enough courage, self-esteem and strength of character and keeness to live to carry on for her children through her despair?
The aspects of this film that spoiled it for me was the middle part of the film The start was exciting and you felt sorry for the character of Della Myers (Kim Basinger) and I loved the ending. However the gang were not vicious enough for me in the middle part of the film they just came over as a bunch of silly immature kids rather than vicious, scary thugs with no conscience that were in say the film, Eden Lake. I did not think that the character of Della Myers was as hard done to so to speak as the main characters in Eden Lake which I thought were horrific. I also thought the part in the forest was slightly rushed and did not seem to have any meat to the plot just killings that were on the verge at times as almost humorous.
This in comparison to the film Eden Lake was like eating a chocolate eclair without the chocolate and the cream.
The one thing that I did find interesting in this film was the music at the end which was by Roxy Music called In Every Dream Home a Heartache - the lyrics 'the cottage is pretty' and it seems to suggest an obsession with a blow up doll - which transcribes to me that although you may live in a beautiful house not all that goes on inside it is beautiful and the blow-up doll aspect of the song is how some men see women; just there for their convenience and without a soul or feelings which makes them think they can just use them and treat them as non-entities or as second-class human beings - yes it does go on and maybe this is what the film really is about under the surface.
Atmospheric with a Christmas theme and heightened tension of something awful about to happen in the beginning. A bit rushed and not living up to its earlier premise in the middle part of the film and the gang not being vicious enough for me, yes I like a proper villain not a group of kids playing at it and a satisfying ending with a great soundtrack by Brian Ferry's Roxy Music "I blew up your body, you blew up my mind"!!!!
The only rememberance for me in this film was the music at the end I just HAD to know who it was by and listen to it in its entirety on you-tube. That was really the best thing in this mediocre, watchable but not outstanding film.
It seems that when an idea for a movie is unique, than rather like busses two come along at the same time. Earlier on in 2008 Eden Lake saw a woman battling for her life against a group of thugs, the result was devastating. Now Oscar winning actress Kim Basinger, on a Christmas shopping trip finds that she too is a victim of thugs, where Eden Lakes thugs were kids, these Thugs are twenty something's with sex and death on their mind.
Sadly While She Was Out does not add up to the intensity of Eden Lake; the big problem was that the British movie had such large shoes anything following in its path needs to be considerably better to succeed. While She Was Out can only offer two things, harsh language and a rather amusing series of deaths to support itself, the rest of the time it comes off feeling like an afternoon TV movie, with a couple of reasonable leading actors.
At 55 Basinger looks absolutely stunning, and not a day over 40, but looks cannot make the actress pull through the movie, her performance is soulless. As a verbally abused wife at the hands of her husband played by eighties heart throb Craig Sheffer (now looking like Michelin Man), you feel for her plight. But the moment she pins a note to an inconsiderate motorist's car, you lose all compassion for the woman, even when her credit cards are declined while she feverishly adds the finishing touches to a family Christmas; you feel more compassion for the woman that has to break the news, more than you do Basinger. It's not all Basingers fault, while she could have put more into her performance, she cannot outdo the work of a terrible script writer. Whilst running in fear of her life from a gang of thugs, the screenwriter has her having long loud conversations, and even shouting with herself; pardon me but when on the run from an armed gang do you not try to be as quiet as you possibly can?
Time to move onto the toolbox, leaving her mobile phone, purse, handbag, and car keys in her badly damaged car; Basingers character then heads off into the woods with a red toolbox... Amusingly the trailers says "She has the box, and she knows what to do with it!" The gang have similar thoughts in mind, but they are not referring to the toolbox. Having accepted the fact that Basinger is a bit of a doormat, and to be fair a little bit useless, you then expected to understand that she knows a series of cunning ways to despatch her attackers, her first rummage in the toolbox produces a tyre wrench which she uses to make the most vile attacker breath a little easier. Similar toolbox dalliances follow until she is left with the most dangerous assailant. Luckily enough for Basinger, just in case she does not have enough tools in her box, one of the attackers exits in a moment that will make you confused over whether this is meant to be a thriller or a slapstick comedy.
As her adversary Basinger must contend with Witness star Lucas Haas who plays the freaky Chuckie, "Chuckie?" she laughs "at least your parents had a sense of humour!" Haas is no dangerous thug, and totally unbelievable as the movies big villain. You never really quite know what's going on in either the actor or the scriptwriters head. Chuckie is like a yo-yo up and down throughout the whole movie, no real rhyme or reason, and nothing to either make you like him or hate him.
The movies biggest offence however is in its publicity, whoever edited together the US and UK trailers for the movie really does need to understand about not spoiling the climax of a movie, as a result the big "surprise!!!" at the end is revealed in the trailer for those unfortunate enough to have seen it, this is simply unforgivable.
It's really hard to decide where to push the overall blame, rumour has it that the movies production team heard all about Eden Lake, assuming it to be delivered like a quaint British movie and liked the idea. Nobody expected Eden Lake to be such a hard act to follow, and certainly not a film that would leave the most hardened of horror enthusiasts in a cold sweat. This leaves While She Was Out with only one place in the movie community straight to TV or direct to DVD market, its lacklustre uninviting and a waste of 90 minutes of your life. If you do have any desire to see the movie, its best to schedule it before a viewing of Eden Lake, perhaps the end result will be more rewarding.
The DVD comes with a trailer only.
A review of just the film, While She Was Out was released on region 2 DVD in October 2008.
A downtrodden housewife named Della has to make a late night visit to the mall to collect some last minute items for Christmas. Greeted by hordes of other customers with the same idea, she struggles to find a parking space, but eventually does so, no thanks to a particularly selfish shopper who has parked his car across two spaces. Leaving a snotty note on his windshield, she carries on with her shopping trip, thinking no more about it. But when she returns to her car, she soon discovers that the other driver has not forgotten about it and an inconvenient night rapidly changes into an escalating nightmare.....
Well, this is a strange one. Based on a short story by an otherwise unknown author named Edward Bryant, While She Was Out is the directorial debut of Susan Montford, whose previous work includes production rights on the zany actioner Shoot 'Em Up and the film's production crew reads like a miscellaneous collection of Montford's Hollywood buddies. There's a stuntman in there, a TV producer and, most notably, there's one of the world's greatest fantasy horror directors - Guillermo Del Toro, the man behind Pan's Labyrinth. But it's not the creative team that's the strangest thing about this one. It's the plot.
While She Was Out is a like a montage of clips from every 'woman in peril' thriller you've ever seen, assembled as if to provide a government health warning of what NOT to do if a random collection of thugs ever decides to terrorise you. It's all here. A mobile phone with a batter that's about to run out. A car that isn't terribly reliable. Dreadful weather that makes for treacherous conditions wherever you are. How about a chase that leads our hero to leave the busy roads and take to the back roads? Should I go on? 'While She Was Out' certainly does. But then, you see, it doesn't exactly go on in quite the way that you might expect and it's all rather strange.
It's not entirely clear what we're supposed to think about Della. She's a bit neurotic and something of a victim to her grumpy, bullying husband. Clearly unhappy with her life, she's devoted to her children but spends most of the first twenty minutes or so simply drifting along the streets and around the mall as though in a world of her own. She then proceeds to spend the rest of the film lurching from one shift in character to another through a faltering series of stalk and slash sequences that periodically conclude in rather unexpected ways. It's all probably as unconventional as it is conventional. Della frequently decides to keep herself isolated and in close proximity to her assailants when opportunities to hide or escape abound. She seems to find curious spurts of strength when the need arises and then subsequently crumples into a whimpering heap and then after a while you get this strange feeling that she's not quite the person you thought she was.
Montford doesn't exactly handle it very skilfully. Most of the action takes place within the confines of a secluded forest in the middle of the night and, as such, it's frequently tricky to make out exactly what's going on. It's also not a terribly interesting place to set it. Aside from trees, lots of trees, and a bit of muddy stream, there aren't really any opportunities to do something interesting. The pace is pretty clumsy, with bursts of energy and excitement enshrouded in slower, stalking moments or even weirder dialogue scenes, notably between Della's assailants who start to question the nature of what's happening that night. Very occasionally, it's also extremely brutal, and a real contrast to the rest of the narrative, justifying its 18 certificate with probably no more than two scenes of violence and the occasional sexual swear word. But it's never very engaging, visually or otherwise. Montford's matter-of-fact way of using the camera is very, very ordinary and whilst the film doesn't feel cheap, it does feel very restricted in scope. Quite what Montford's point is supposed to be is never entirely clear but the final outcome is equally likely to encourage satisfaction and irritation in equal quantities according to the audience taste.
Kim Basinger, in all fairness, looks fantastic for her age and is certainly a capable and convincing lead. Putting aside the fact that her children seem far too young for her, she copes extremely well with an ever-changing series of emotions and experiences. Her assailants are less convincing and, sadly, rather clichéd, comprising the stereotypical combination of different ethnic origins. With Lukas Haas in the lead as a thug named Chuckie (no, really) it's hard to take any of them seriously, but more importantly, it's hard to believe their willingness to escalate the severity of the situation so quickly. This is a big problem with the film generally. There's no real build up or increase in tension up to the point when Della first confronts the young men and then suddenly it becomes a frantic mission to stay alive. For the audience, it just doesn't sit well at all.
For the production in the round, however, there's still something curiously likeable about While She Was Out. I think it's the combination of really silly, predictable moments contrasted by occasional moments that really shock you. It's also true to say that Kim Basinger is at the top of her game here. She adds some credibility in a role that many actresses would have simply turned into a scream queen. While She Was Out isn't a great film and it's probably not really a good film but it is a curious film and that's enough to at least give it a chance.