For months I'd read positive things about Kim Basinger's latest flick, "While She Was Out", the directorial debut of producer, Susan Montford, overseen by executive producer, Guillermo Del Toro. I've heard about how it was "a female Death Wish" (which could also be have been said for Jodie Foster's "The Brave One", which limped in and out of theaters in less time it took to write this sentence), a "shocking and intense thriller", and a strong return to form for Basinger.
After finally seeing the film for myself, I'm happy to tell you that none of the above is true.
Warning - This Review Not Only Contains Spoilers; it Reveals the Plot and Ending of the Entire Film to Save You From Having to Sit Through it Yourself!
Basinger stars as Della, an upper-class hausfrau with two loveable kids and her abusive husband, Kenneth (Craig Sheffer). When hubby comes home on Christmas Eve after a long day of doing something rich guys do for a living (we know this because he's yelling about numbers into a cellphone), he immediately goes off on Della about the messy house, her haggard appearance, and the fact that dinner's not ready. Then he drinks a glass of Scotch and punches a hole in the wall.
To me that sounds like an average day in the Head Cheeze household, except my mother would usually retaliate by throwing some cutlery at my father, and then we'd all sit down, eat dinner, and avert each other's eyes while Conway Twitty 8-tracks blared over the stereo in the background. Ah, good times.
Anyway, Della suddenly realizes she needs wrapping paper (on Christmas Eve!), and decides to leave the kids with their drunk, abusive father (Nice one, Della!) while she runs off to the local mall (again, on CHRISTMAS EVE!!). On the way, she makes a phone call cancelling an auto repair class she's apparently taking behind Kenneth's back. Pay attention, as this nugget of plot contrivance is important later on!
Della gets to the mall and seems stunned to discover that its busy (on FUCKING CHRISTMAS EVE!!!!). She drives around for less than a minute, but is already so flustered that she stops and whines to a mall cop about the lack of parking spaces. She then happens upon a car that's parked crooked and is taking up two spaces. Della shakes her head and parks about thirty feet away, and then leaves an angry note on the offending car's windshield that says something along the lines of "Way to take up two spaces, Jerk!". You go Della!
We are then treated to a short montage of Della buying a latte, trying on an expensive dress, and looking generally pathetic. She runs into a friend from college who brags about how rich and happy she is. Della looks forlorn, and we're supposed to feel bad for her because she only drives a Mercedes SUV, lives in a million dollar condo, and is too stupid to hire a lawyer to divorce her husband and sue him for half of everything he's earned.
Della leaves the mall and is accosted by a roving gang of multi-racial thugs led by freak-eyed hipster doofus, Lukas Haas. Politically correct to a fault, the rest of the gang consists of an Asian, a black guy, and a Mexican. For the purposes of this review, I will call them Chong, Leroy, and Pepe as I can't be bothered to look up their real names on the IMDB.
Anyway, Lukas Haas whips out a gun and starts threatening Della, while the rest of his gang yell things like "Wooo!" and "Extreeeeeeeeeeeeme!". When a mall security guard intervenes, Lukas Haas shoots him in the head, and Della sneaks away during the commotion. Of course, now that she's seen him kill a man, Lukas Haas can't let her get away, so he and his gang of Benetton models chase after her.
Instead of driving to a police station or a well-populated part of town, Della opts to drive to a deserted construction site and crash her car into a pile of dirt. As the gang members pull up behind her, Della retrieves a screaming red toolbox from the trunk of the SUV (remember that plot contrivance I told you about??), and runs off into the darkness, whereupon she begins her murderous automotive repair tool killing spree!
Thank GOD she was taking those classes, huh?
After the black guy falls and breaks his neck, and the Mexican dude gets a wrench stuffed up his nose, the Asian looks at Lukas Haas and says; "Ain't no gun can kill a spirit gone bad. She's gone bad"
Seriously. He says that. It's as though he were simultaneously possessed by the spirit of Cochise, Charlie Chan, and Robert Johnson . You half expect to hear the percussive toot of a wind flute, a mystical gong, followed by the refrain of "Me and the Devil Blues".
The spooked Asian guy dies before he can dish out anymore sage, racially confused advice (I was waiting for him to wax philosophic about dry cleaning and doo rags), and then Della somehow seduces Lukas Haas and kills him, too. Then she goes home and kills her husband. The end.
I guess the moral to this story is that you should always carry a toolkit in your car. Either that or be careful who you accost, because they may be possess rudimentary wrench-fighting skills. Or maybe the moral is not to wait for the last minute to do your holiday shopping.
While She Was Out is an astonishingly stupid contrivance that lacks anything resembling depth, logic, or pathos. Only adventure-starved Lexus-driving soccer moms and Kim Basinger apologists need apply; everyone else should do their best to steer clear of this laughable mess of a film.