Hard Candy (2005) Movie Review
Article by SisterRoboto of lefthandhorror.com
Director: David Slade (30 Days of Night)
A mature 14-year old girl meets a charming 32-year old photographer on the Internet. Suspecting that he is a pedophile, she goes to his home in an attempt to expose him.
More like Psychotic Candy! This movie starts with an awkward story line (possible pedophile meets the jail-bait of his dreams) that quickly becomes downright insane! I had heard stories about his movie before watching it, but Hard Candy sent me through a roller coaster of emotions even when I knew what I was getting myself into. I mostly felt very uncomfortable, but it is definitely an intense and unnerving little film. With the media often preaching the dangers of allowing your little ones to talk to strangers in online chat rooms and social networks, it was only a matter of time before someone made a film on this subject. Only in this particular scenario, the tables are turned and the underdog becomes the bad-ass. Although the subject matter is very controversial, this turns out to be a powerful, thought-provoking thriller unlike anything I’ve ever watched and I would recommend everyone seeing it at least once.
The movie begins its first scene with the viewer’s focus on a computer monitor. Right away, you get an idea of what you’re about to see. A teasing and flirtatious conversation is being instant messaged between two Internet chatters, Thonggrrrrrr14 and Lensman319. Hayley Stark (played by Ellen Page) is only 14 in the movie, and seemingly eager as he is, Jeff and Hayley arrange to meet. *Insert Silent Alarms Screaming Here!*
Lensman31: So we should finally hook up, baby?
Thonggrrrrrl14: NOT a baby, I keep telling you
Lensman31: I’ll have to see for myself. (“YUCK!”)
From the chocolate smeared on her mouth and the shy and innocent, schoolgirl act, it initially looks as if Thonggrrrrrl14 is about to meet the bad guy in person from her chat-room pickup. Jeff plays a photographer nearly two decades older than her. But this little red-hooded girl, soon proves very educated and much more mature than he expects. After hooking up at a cafe with the codename Nighthawks, Hayley is insistent on going home with Jeff. When they arrive at his house, she begins to make herself comfortable, chugging vodka and dancing on the sofa before turning into a crazed, psychotic loony toon. I don’t want to give too much away because the lead up to the best scene in the movie is so suspenseful. This one scene is the movie! There is not a lot of graphic violence shown; it’s more of a character-driven physiological thriller.
I think the film’s strength is in the way it continually sustains suspense, particularly in the use of sound effects. Very little is shown, but much is heard. The movie’s main scene, involving a bunch of questionable tools and amateur surgery, may have certain viewers crossing their legs, but is so effective because your imagination is filling in the blanks while you see virtually none of it happening. Facial expressions are enough! And although Hayley is convinced that Jeff does more with his young fashion models than simply take their picture, we have only her word that he is a twisted pedophile. Maybe, just maybe, this poor bastard is innocent? It’s all the more impressive given the fact that it’s down to these two actors to carry the bulk of the film. The pace of the film is smooth and you’re not sure how the film will end, but it is a nail biter while you’re getting there. I promise you one thing, you will never predict what happens!
So in the end… the “did he or didn’t he?” question is bound to divide the audience. It’s pretty terrifying how this movie hooks you in. I’d bet money you can’t stop watching once you’ve started. Jeff comes across as a likeable guy, and after what Hayley puts him through, you begin to feel sorry for him. But… on the other hand, if he is guilty of these alleged crimes… did he get what he deserved? See this one for yourself and you be the judge. The whole movie was a twisted roller coaster of not knowing who to believe. Whether young Hayley was telling the truth, or was she in fact just completely insane, you won’t find out until the end. But either way, it was a knockout performance by both stars and a highly recommended film! Between this movie and Dateline NBC’s special, To Catch a Predator, hopefully this would persuade some sick individuals out there to think twice before preying on the young, who may not be so helpless after all.
Haven’t seen this since it came out… I think it may be time for a rewatch!
Yes! I really enjoyed this movie and even though I’ve seen it twice now, it’s one of those that I’d probably like to watch again in a few years.
Freaking chick club up in here today. 😉
Yes, only every few years is appropriate for this one!!
And Mr. Roboto – Would you have it any other way?!?! 😀