"While She Was Out" tells the familiar story of an ordinary woman pushed to extraordinary lengths to survive an ordeal no one suspects she will live through. An improbable thriller, "Out" presents Kim Basinger as a put-upon housewife who encounters a murderous group of meanies on Christmas Eve. Basinger starts out as such a dishrag to her abusive husband, we hope to see her emerge a strong and resilient heroine as she is isolated and pursued throughout the night. One by one, she confronts her attackers and succeeds! The theme of female empowerment through murder isn't a new idea--but one that has a certain appeal. However, "While She Was Out" doesn't employ the device particularly well. No real intelligence or creativity is employed by Basinger--she's more lucky than good. And that's unfortunate, because this might have been a nifty little thriller.
The one thing I was certain of throughout the film was that we were preparing for a knock-out ending. As Basinger took the reins of her own life on this fateful night--how might this change her home life? The earlier scenes are played so over-the-top, the exciting and liberating set-up can be seen a mile away. However, the resolution is so tired, so expected, and so thoroughly underwhelming--it truly removed the last bit of goodwill I had for this picture.
The saddest thing of all about "While She Was Out" is how much I wanted to like it. The image of Basinger clutching a red toolbox on the DVD cover is priceless. The description, as well, is mint--they should have paid the copywriter big! It sure sounds like a sure fire guilty pleasure! Add Guillermo del Toro of the impeccable "Pan's Labyrinth" as a producer, and that just raises expectations even more. But the film really lacks sensibility and surprise (I loved the ridiculous images of Christmas Eve at the mall where women were busy buying sexy lingerie and getting their hair done minutes before the bustling building becomes a ghost town). On several occasions, I recalled Basinger in an equally ludicrous thriller "Cellular." But that film works despite its shortcomings due to characters to root for--and if that Kim Basinger were in this film, maybe things would have turned out differently. KGHarris, 04/09.