More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 
Advertisement

Overall Rating
3.48

Awesome30.9%
Worth A Look: 28.65%
Average: 12.36%
Pretty Bad: 13.48%
Total Crap: 14.61%

12 reviews, 106 user ratings


Latest Reviews

Fortress, The (2017) by Jay Seaver

MFA by Jay Seaver

You Only Live Once by Jay Seaver

November (2017) by Jay Seaver

Friendly Beast by Jay Seaver

Foreigner, The (2017) by Jay Seaver

Tom of Finland by Rob Gonsalves

Happy Death Day by Jay Seaver

78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene by Jay Seaver

Death Note: Light Up the New World by Jay Seaver

subscribe to this feed


Hard Candy
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by Todd LaPlace

"Tough to swallow, but worth the effort."
5 stars

There are moments during “Hard Candy” when you’ll be tempted to laugh, including during the twisted final showdown between pedophile and prey, torturer and victim. There are also moments during “Hard Candy” when you’ll fidget uncomfortably in your seat. Sometimes these moments are one and the same. All of the moments of this perverse revenge fantasy, however, are nothing but brilliant.

Thanks, in large part I suspect, to the sudden success of MySpace among teens, “protecting our teens from online predators” seems to be this month’s vogue social topic. “Dateline” featured it. CNN discussed it. Even MySpace is running ads that read “1 in 5 kids online is sexually solicited. Online predators know what they’re doing. Do you?”

If you’re 14-year-old Hayley Stark (Ellen Page), the star of festival fav “Hard Candy,” you definitely do. She’s grown up in the Internet age and has probably known her e-mail address longer than her phone number. But none of that stops Hayley, aka Thonggrrrrl14, from conducting an online relationship with Lensman319, 32-year-old photographer Jeff (Patrick Wilson). Much of their relationship is light and fluffy — they talk about indie music and the books of Zadie Smith — but it occasionally stumbles into inappropriate flirting. Hayley is testing her boundaries, exploring her limits and Jeff, as the mature chatter, should be the one to draw the line. Yet, when Hayley suggests a meeting IRL (that’s in real life for the tech ignorant), Jeff is more than happy to share a cup of coffee and a suggestive slice of cake.

The debut feature of music video director (another one?) David Slade, “Hard Candy” is not the typical movie you’d call beautiful, but that’s the best way to describe Slade’s style. When the pair travel to Jeff’s home — to innocently listen to a Goldfrapp bootleg, I’m sure — the house is softly bathed in light, emphasizing Jeff’s modern style sensibilities. Occasionally excessive — Slade does have a pension for close ups and shaky cams — the style almost perfectly captures Jeff, drenched in fake charm and transparent motives. We can see through Jeff’s disguise, but Hayley’s just an innocent teen pixie, right?

I’m sure that was Jeff’s impression because even when she recites “prevent online predators” rhetoric like “They teach us young things not to drink anything we haven’t mixed ourselves,” he still keeps her around. She’s far from innocent, though, and he should have taken her advice. When he wakes up from her drugging, little Hayley has transformed from emo teen to hard-assed torturer. He’s tied to a desk chair, and she spends the majority of her time wheeling him around his house, searching for evidence of his pension for stalking teenagers online.

Because Hayley’s the one that drags him far over the line, we should spend the movie wondering just how bad Jeff is. Has he inappropriately touched teenage girls, especially since his house is covered in half-naked photos, or does he draw the line at talking? Unfortunately, Slade shows his hand too early and teases us with a missing girl subplot. Surely Slade wouldn’t tease us with a red herring, would he? It is a little hard to judge, because even when Jeff is faced with Hayley’s psychopathic idea of “public good” surgery, he maintains his innocence. Is the guy tied up really a brutal molester, or should Hayley sign up for an “American Psycho” sequel?

This second act does occasionally stumble, but Page is already enough of a pro to keep it on point. Set to make the leap to the mainstream as Shadowcat in “X-Men: The Last Stand,” Page was just a 16-year-old unknown when she signed on, but she seems like she’s been doing this for years. When Hayley’s teasing Jeff with sending e-mails exposing his secret, she reads her words as if she is a naïve nymph suckered by an online pervert, not the manipulator that’s beaten the stalker at his own game. When she finishes her e-mail, she turns to Jeff and asks if sounded vapid enough. Although her motives may be noble, there’s no denying that Hayley is a psychopathic sadist. She enjoys torturing Jeff, whether it’s physically threatening him with a scalpel, verbally abusing him and teasing him by slowing saying words like “juicy,” yet Page is so skilled, we never stop empathizing with her. Wilson is solid as her prey, even eliciting a little sympathy when we start to wonder if Jeff is telling the truth, but he’s no match for Page. No matter if she’s pretending to be the sweet teen or acting as the sadistic torturer, she is clearly in control.

The most surreal aspect of a movie like this is being asked the question, “Is it good?” Can we really claim a movie about pedophiles is good, the same rating we offer innocent kids movies and stupid comedies? Can we really claim “Hard Candy” is good when the experience of watching it is a little like torture itself? Make no mistake, “Hard Candy” is a tough picture to watch, which may be why it’s so worth watching.

When the cast list of a movie is only five names long, three of which are little more than cameos (one by Sandra Oh), it takes talented actors to make a 103-minute movie entertaining. But Page and Wilson’s cat-and-mouse game, though often disturbing, is so distressing, it’s impossible to ignore.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=11287&reviewer=401
originally posted: 04/24/06 12:04:59
[printer] printer-friendly format  
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Florida Film Festival For more in the 2006 Florida Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Philadelphia Film Festival For more in the 2006 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

8/25/15 David Hollingsworth An intense, and squirm-inducing modern classic. 5 stars
4/10/15 stanley welles compelling, well-written and admirably performed 4 stars
4/16/14 Charles Tatum Page doesn't quite ring true. 4 stars
12/04/12 Mason Very Very original! direction is superb and original plot 4 stars
10/17/12 Jacqui Intelligent, thought provoking, rivetting. Ellen Page is amazing. 5 stars
8/25/12 Faraz hard movie to watch 4 stars
8/15/12 Robin Utterly grim and pointless. We get it, pedophiles are bad people. See 'Freeway' instead. 2 stars
6/09/12 liker of good movies Wothless 1 stars
3/16/12 PAUL SHORTT DISTURBING BUT ENGROSSING PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER WITH SOME GOOD PERFORMANCES 3 stars
11/10/11 matthew thompson dalldorf Don't forget AUDITION! 1 stars
11/10/11 Thompson ...or 'Freeway.' 1 stars
4/19/11 matthew Stick with 'Death And The Maiden' 1 stars
1/11/11 Moose Rapper "Hayley was impossibly smart..." To bad the wasn't. 1 stars
3/22/10 nathan b great directing, acting and editing makes up for its lacking plot. 4 stars
3/13/10 brian That's one heapin' steamin' helpin' of vigilante justice there. 5 stars
9/28/09 jpwcpa Hayley was impossibly smart, and impossibly strong, for a 14-yr-old 2 stars
9/02/09 SpaceGoat Self-indulgent, ghoulish and sadistic, the target audience clearly being man-haters. 1 stars
7/08/09 Josie Cotton is a goddess Something every moralist will want to masterbait while watching. 1 stars
6/20/09 jeanne Ellen Page was incredible. It goes around, it comes around... 5 stars
3/28/09 GRAPELGANGER Awesome movie... great ending 5 stars
3/26/09 mariah the ending was awesome 4 stars
1/09/09 Lori good movie but pretty odd and nasty 4 stars
1/09/09 Anonymous. ellen page is awesome. she can be this freak, and she can be juno... 4 stars
10/29/08 Matt C. Wow. So many reviewers who feel Hayley was too cruel to the pedophile/murderer. Great film/ 5 stars
9/26/08 Timothy Kirkland Smart writing, cast of 5 people, very off center 4 stars
9/14/08 Claire ok, did you even watch the movie?? she DIDNT cut his balls off!!! stop complaining. 4 stars
9/07/08 Rod Good acting, rubbish directing, dodgy plot, not worth sitting through 1 stars
9/06/08 m Brilliant movie. Great acting - Ellen Page can be a monster. She doesn't cut his balls off! 5 stars
8/11/08 Heather A 14-yr-old who can do surgery? Gimme a break! Totally unbelievable! 1 stars
7/13/08 Paul's2¢ Two pervs - one who doesn't kill, one who doesn't cut. Vigilante hot air for simpletons. 3 stars
7/01/08 Chris Don't like torture movies (like Hostel - yuck!) and this stinks too, despite good acting. 1 stars
6/12/08 DK A great film, understanding of tension is apparent in Slade's direction. 5 stars
4/30/08 art THIS IS ONE SICK MOVIE 1 stars
4/30/08 dan i think this film was wierd, i thought it was pretty gd but didnt think he deserved 2 die 4 stars
4/09/08 Michelle The ending is lacking. Maybe flashbacks of the girl that was killed would help tie it? 3 stars
4/07/08 bob total shit, with shit ending, and he moved pretty well concidering his balls where cut off, 1 stars
3/29/08 Lawrence Peabody Excellent performances make up for the flimsy plot; a flawed but memorable thriller 4 stars
2/03/08 Joseph Becker A movie that makes one ask who is the problem? The "pedofile", or those quick to judge. 4 stars
1/14/08 David Pollastrini could of used some gore but great and scary 5 stars
1/13/08 TreeTiger Craaaap-o-la 2 stars
1/05/08 Cheryl who's more messed up? . the prick teasing torturing chic or the prick teasee 5 stars
10/20/07 eleanore compelling-- original 4 stars
10/14/07 mr.mike edge of your seat suspense , marred by an unconvincing ending 4 stars
8/07/07 Chris Hansen You're not on Dateline.....bitch!!!! 5 stars
7/24/07 fools♫gold God, does this pick up! Perfect length, and explains the perfect amount! 5 stars
7/18/07 DETMURDS The "Left" must have hated this movie,...let kids be kids is what I say here! 3 stars
7/10/07 Michael its was supensefull and not as cliché as mxt movies now a days. 5 stars
5/28/07 Beverly Such an unusual plot. Left me thinking for hours, for days. Ellen Page is a phenomena. 5 stars
5/17/07 Diane I agree with the film critic. Manipulatingly provocative yet badly written, & overdirected. 1 stars
5/16/07 Mackelby I had a hard on from the very beginning, but could never really get off to this. Tease... 3 stars
4/17/07 bob Interesting...would have liked more explanation as to how 'Haley' knew what she knew..... 4 stars
3/23/07 TreeTiger It stunk really bad - stay away from this steaming pile of hot pooh..!! 1 stars
3/12/07 Patterson At some point, the rants become tedious and lose their inherent creepiness.Way too overdone 3 stars
3/07/07 Stanley Thai A very good and disturbing film. 4 stars
1/18/07 MP Bartley Has its moments but too studied, overwritten and overdeliberate to be truly provocative. 3 stars
1/01/07 Maggie Wow. A must-see. 5 stars
12/27/06 Agent Sands Amongst the top form of comeuppance films, torture endurance films, & battle of wits films. 5 stars
12/23/06 K. Sear Wow, there is actually such a thing as a movie that desperately NEEDS a twist ending. 1 stars
12/21/06 ALDO FINALLy A CURE for pediphiles...They will never look at children the same way again 5 stars
12/15/06 T. McGregor This had me squirming in my seat. Fantastic performance from Ellen Paige. 4 stars
12/09/06 malcolm vague; hard for me to believe a 14 y/o can be that malicious and conniving 3 stars
11/30/06 Joanie incredible 5 stars
11/20/06 Carson This movie is brillant. Ellan Page is going to be huge. 5 stars
11/19/06 Bevan It's intense for the most part and against the conventions of most mainstream films 4 stars
11/16/06 Elveran A movie about two disturbed people. And a pointless story about how cool torture is. 1 stars
11/14/06 chelsea wow i can't really find words to describe it wow 5 stars
11/09/06 DarkEnchantress it sucked! Im into blood and thrillers, but this just was not worth shit! 2 stars
11/09/06 Bitchflaps Redundant offal masquerading as a "provocative psychological thriller" *yawn* 1 stars
11/07/06 Indrid Cold I'm ashamed to admit it, but Ellen Page is freaking adorable. 4 stars
11/02/06 Dissappointed Castration didnt happen! WORST ENDING EVER! NOT JUSTIFIED/VERIFIED! Missed chance 2B Great! 1 stars
11/01/06 TeenGuy My fav. movie EVER, makes me wanna do it... 5 stars
10/31/06 ES Good watch, but I can see Ellen Page getting on audiences' nerves rather quickly 4 stars
10/20/06 Henry Una excelente película que incomoda, particularmente a nosotros los hombres 5 stars
10/13/06 lauren I really didn't know how to think but it left me thinking for hours 4 stars
10/12/06 Yazzluv I thought it was pretty good...I loved the color palet and the dialog 4 stars
10/10/06 Danny Intense. Very intense indeed. 4 stars
10/09/06 peta press Hate to state the obvious; this is a Nazi film, anti-paedophile instead of anti-semitic!! 5 stars
10/08/06 Giselle ortiz Exelente 1 stars
10/02/06 Drdanny If it makes you squirm, it's doing its job. 4 stars
9/25/06 Rich Very well executed, thought provoking twists and turns that keep you unbalanced. 4 stars
9/22/06 Joe K One to get you talking. Maybe it shows what should happen to all pervs? Loved it! 5 stars
9/20/06 action movie fan intense and scary--haylaey is the predator-- 5 stars
9/17/06 Oilfinger Preposterous sadistic rubbish, utterly unbelievable, with a miracle recovery that reeks 1 stars
9/17/06 Duncan Wrong issue to use for a cheap thriller.... 1 stars
8/13/06 Brian O'Neill Extremely original thriller/horror film with two brilliant performances. Forget Saw II. 5 stars
8/01/06 Jimmy0h I was in a cold sweat!!! 5 stars
7/30/06 c0oki3z Weird but okay.. 4 stars
7/04/06 mike b excruciatingly engrossing 5 stars
6/22/06 vicki Its total crap 1 stars
6/18/06 Don Paco A glorification of torture for the PC crowd: torturing is OK, as long as it's done by girls 1 stars
6/05/06 mary this movie is too boring to be disturbing and too much suspension of belief is required. 1 stars
6/03/06 San Lamar oh my god 5 stars
5/06/06 martha philpotts tremendously thought provoking 5 stars
5/02/06 Ole Man Bourbon Amusing at times, but not much to it. 3 stars
5/02/06 David Awful-- awful boring that is. Could have been done in about five minutes max. 1 stars
4/29/06 Sabrina Unsatisfying and insults the audiences intelligence 2 stars
4/28/06 Kenneth D. Robin this may be one of the worse movies that I have ever seen. It makes very little sense 1 stars
4/25/06 brendan can someone tell todd the word is 'penchant' not pension. using it twice irritates 3 stars
4/23/06 Mase Orignial daring filmmaking. A movie to squirm to and think about 5 stars
4/14/06 Ronald Pottol intense! 5 stars
4/13/06 Roldan Din Pretentious! Pseudo-intellectual at its peak! 2 stars
3/29/06 Jennifer nelson incredible 5 stars
4/12/05 Elliot Brilliant and compelling 5 stars
2/08/05 J. Cantor A MUST SEE! 5 stars
1/24/05 Chris Gonsalves Freaky N' Cool 5 stars
12/14/04 SANJA EXELENT WRITER 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:


Discuss this movie in our forum

USA
  14-Apr-2006 (R)
  DVD: 19-Sep-2006

UK
  16-Jun-2006 (18)

Australia
  13-Jul-2006 (R)



[trailer] Trailer


Directed by
  David Slade

Written by
  Brian Nelson

Cast
  Patrick Wilson
  Ellen Page
  Sandra Oh
  Jennifer Holmes



Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 
eFilmCritic.com: Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast