While She Was OutIn producer-turned-writer/director Susan Montford’s new thriller, While She Was Out, Kim Basinger (also pulling an executive producer credit) stars as a suburban housewife who finds herself stranded in the woods with a box of tools and an angry gang to fight off. And like most thrillers, the action of While She Was Out takes place before the backdrop of a musical score filled with creepy, atmospheric music. In this case, said music is provided by Paul Haslinger, an ex-member of the group Tangerine Dream, and a composer who has no shortage of thriller/suspense/horror films to his credit (Vacancy, Turistas, Crank, Prom Night, Underworld). Haslinger doesn’t necessarily cover new ground in his score for While She Was Out, but he does make sure that the ground he covers is entertaining. “This is a dream come true soundtrack in my mind,” says Montford. It may be good, but I don’t know if I’d go that far.

For all their expected action tracks and gotcha moments, thriller/horror scores can still be a bit tricky. Here Haslinger opens somewhat generically with a verse from “The Twelve Days of Christmas” entitled “First Day of Christmas” being softly (and rather atonally) sung by a group of high-voiced children. It’s an effective opener, though the style has been used from A Nightmare on Elm Street to Jeepers Creepers. There’s a reason this has been used before: it works. But it only works when audiences can’t recognize it as a gimmick, and unfortunately for Haslinger, the gimmick shows its wear here.

The rest of the score showcases Haslinger’s ear for the thrilling as well as his ability to carefully lay out a quietly daunting atmosphere for the film’s characters to inhabit. Surprisingly, most of the tracks are relatively calm (hear “The Dirt of Life”, “Breakdown”, or “Failed Connection”) – you get the image of a few strings delicately exploring a dark room. These are all good tracks, though their consistent quietude begins to feel monotonous without much to break up the calm. The track “Primal Instincts” gets to the thrilling electronic core of the action that can be found in some of Haslinger’s other film music. Unfortunately, there’s not much else like this track on the album.

Other artists included on this soundtrack album include Joy Division (providing the misplaced “Day of the Lords”), Roxy Music (wrapping the score up nicely with “In Every Dream Home a Heartache”), and star Kim Basinger (in a track from the film, singing/mumbling the words to “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”). Basinger’s track is the most effective, tying in to the score nicely and providing a nice separation between score and soundtrack, as well as highlighting the film’s general tone. “In Every Dream Home a Heartache” wraps the soundtrack up perfectly, with excellent guitar riffs and monotone lyrics.

Zach’s Rating: B-
Perfect For: A light listen, with quietly creepy score music and a couple rock tracks
Stay Away if: You’re looking for something with a bit more substance, and less gimmick
If you buy only one track, make it this one: “In Every Dream Home a Heartache”, Roxy Music – sure it’s been around a while, but it’s the best track on this album

To purchase the soundtrack for While She Was Out, visit Amazon

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