Holiday Horror Guide #6–While She Was Out

Not a Christmas movie per se (there’s little said about the spirit of giving–or is there?), Susan Montford’s 2008 thriller WHILE SHE WAS OUT uses the yuletide season as a thematic backdrop for this story of revenge and empowerment. Based on a short story by noted horror/SF author Edward Bryant (who had previously adapted his tale for THE HIDDEN ROOM, Lifetime’s long-forgotten answer to the thriller anthology show), the film stars Kim Basinger as an overextended mother of two and spouse to abusive hubby Craig Sheffer. On a last-minute mall run on Christmas Eve, she’s incensed when she finds a car taking up two spaces and responds with a nasty note for the driver. Of course, if the car wasn’t owned by a racially blended but nonetheless vicious gang then we wouldn’t have a movie, would we?

Though the story follows some fairly predictable beats as Basinger finds the strength to ward off her attackers (and to bring some of that strength back home), it’s the catalyst that strikes the most resonant note. Who hasn’t felt Basinger’s frustration while running the holiday-shopping gauntlet? (Frankly, I’m surprised there aren’t more horror films that use this setting; somewhere in a screenwriter’s mind there’s a great idea brewing for a Black Friday-gone-bad story.)

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