While She Was Out DVD review

If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a screwdriver in the face. At least you are if Kim’s got anything to do with it…

While She Was Out

Honestly, kids these days. They think they can do whatever they want, whenever they want, wherever they want. Heck, they even think they can just park wherever they want, taking up two spaces at the local shopping mall during the busy holiday season. Just how inconsiderate is that? It’s enough to drive an already on the edge suburban housewife to leave them a nasty note under the windscreen wiper of their car, letting them know exactly what she thinks of them.

But those kids, they just have no respect for their elders nowadays, do they? They won’t be handing out any apologies. Far from it, in fact.

And so begins the set-up to this below-average thriller from first-time director, Susan Montford. Following this altercation, four nasty adolescents (most notably Brick’s Lukas Haas) end up shooting the mall’s security guard and, as she’s the only witness, chasing after housewife Della (Kim Basinger) into the local, deserted woods to clean up their mess.

Like with recent Brit flick, Eden Lake, Montford’s references are clear. The youth of today are a very scary breed indeed. It’s a topical, and very realistic threat, considering the stories in the news all the time of ASBOs and gun crime. There’s also an odd celebration of girl power going on here, or rather mum power, as, armed with just a toolbox, Della manages to get back at her pursuers throughout the night.

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The story is tense, tightly woven (runtime is under 80 minutes) and low budget and it certainly has the potential to work on its own terms. That it doesn’t is down to a myriad of problems.

Firstly, there are some very out of kilter scenes. For example, in one, Della stops off near a lake in the woods to spend a penny, despite being chased. Admittedly I’ve never been terrorised by a bunch of kids but I doubt very much I’d be crouching down for a tinkle. In another scene, when her ordeal is over, Della quickly pulls herself together, putting the trauma behind her and singing a Christmas ditty. No hospital for this woman, but then I guess that’s girl power for you.

Then there’s the near constant swearing. While that’s not something I’d usually have a problem with, it is so frequent and so unnecessary that it actually detracts from the unfolding drama. You very quickly understand that these kids are unpleasant, uncaring little blighters fairly early on, so to have to hear them utter ‘C’, ‘F’ and ‘B’ words almost every time they open their mouths to cement the point, is off-putting and, at times, plain offensive.

Worst of all, though, are some serious plot problems. How come no one comes running when gunshots are heard in a shopping mall car park? Why don’t the youthful gang just kill Della when they have the chance to on more than one occasion? How come setting off a flare in someone’s face blinds them, but not the holder, despite it being inches from their own face?

Characterisation issues abound too. Basinger’s role is one with which you have little connection. Painted as an abused housewife at the start of the film, who’s pushed to the edge and looking for a reboot, you should care about her. Maybe it’s the unbelievable way in which she offs each of the victims with an almost Rambo-esque precision. Perhaps it’s her persistently soulless expression throughout. I can’t put my finger on it, but she comes across as quite an unpleasant, nasty human being herself, no more so than in the film’s completely unrealistic climax. For these reasons, and many others, you just cannot empathise with her, stripping the thriller of almost all its dramatic hold.

The gang of thugs are also ill-served, not one of them having any kind of back story. Lead protagonist, Chucky, seems to have some sort of deep-seated psychological issues, but then maybe that’s just down to him listening to far too much Marilyn Manson. Who knows?

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And in the end, who cares? For all its potential – the relentless revenge plot, a suitably threatening environment, a yummy mummy – it fails on almost every level after having initially set things up really well.

Kids these days. They’re such a disappointment.

2 stars

While She Was Out is out now.


2 out of 5