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Overall Rating
3.48

Awesome30.9%
Worth A Look: 28.65%
Just Average: 12.36%
Pretty Crappy: 13.48%
Sucks: 14.61%

12 reviews, 106 user ratings



Hard Candy
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by brianorndorf

"Remember when filmmakers knew how to sell tension organically?"
2 stars

A tale of a pedophile that faces his greatest enemy in a 14 year-old girl, “Hard Candy” is provocative entertainment. It also is a crass, overdirected picture with the sheen of independent film cleverness, but all the screenwriting depth of the average 80s horror sequel.

After flirting on the Internet for weeks, Jeff (Patrick Wilson, “The Alamo”) and Hayley (Ellen Page, Kitty Pryde in the upcoming “X-Men: The Last Stand”) have decided to finally meet. Trouble is, he’s 32 years old and she’s 14. After bringing Hayley back to his place for drinks and seduction, the situation takes a turn for the worse when the young girl reveals that she’s more clever than she originally seemed, beginning a day of agony and torment for Jeff.

“Hard Candy” has one of those calculated attention-grabbing premises that delighted pushover Sundance Film Festival audiences, where it played over a year ago. This is provocative material, pointing a spotlight on sexual predators and their prey, possibly leading many parents to go home and hug their teenage children extra tightly, and shut off all their access to the Internet. So there’s one positive to be found.

“Candy” is the directorial debut for music video filmmaker (aren’t they all?) David Slade, and what ultimately trips up the film is Slade’s habitual visual overindulgence. The picture is aiming for a runaway mine car ride into hell, where Hayley exacts revenge on Jeff for her own safety and for every girl pursued by a pedophile; “Death Wish” for the Jane magazine crowd. However, the film isn’t reliably ingenious like the average thriller. Perhaps originally structured to be performed in a theatrical setting, Brian Nelson’s script keeps the characters talking feverishly and the locations at a minimum, leaving Slade to come up with his own cinematic treatment to tell this unconvincing story.

Slade makes use of a dazzling primary color design for Jeff’s house to keep the location interesting, and employs almost nothing but tight close-ups for the acting. The framing does create the claustrophobic nightmare quality Nelson is writing, but inspiration is soon drained completely out of the film by an old enemy: the shaky-cam. Whenever a moment of violence or action occurs between Haylie and Jeff, Slade goes crazy with open-shutter photography and handheld camerawork, unnecessarily attempting to conjure up intensity with cookie-cutter artifice instead of piercing originality. It robs the film of any potential terror.

The visual ideas kneecap the performances as well. While Patrick Wilson oozes reptilian menace and carefully measured lust as Jeff, Ellen Page’s performance as Hayley is the film’s single biggest miscalculation. Page’s acting is puckered with indication; the actress bounces off the walls trying to convey the character’s power of mind and willingness to use blunt force to keep Jeff in his place. By shooting Page so tightly at almost all times, Slade amplifies the actress’s limitations, and soon pushes her into pure shrillness. Toward the end of the film, the hope that maybe Jeff should come out as the victor in this struggle passes through the mind, which directly contradicts Nelson’s script design for Hayley’s heroism. Wilson might be playing a rapist of teenagers, but after 10 minutes of watching Page contort and stammer in such a loud, self-aware fashion, he doesn’t look like such a bad guy after all.

Near the end, “Candy” heads into a lengthy genital torture sequence (male viewers will be crossing their legs in the film’s second half), which should be this monumentally satisfying act of revenge, but it comes off as a hopeless horror gimmick in a picture with all the dramatic and logical impulse of a latter “Friday the 13th” installment.

In the end, Slade dramatically hammers home the Red Riding Hood imagery, while Nelson’s script makes her into a sort of Batman figure for underage instant message vixens. And while at this point the film gets completely absurd, at least Page has finally stopped acting.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=11287&reviewer=404
originally posted: 04/14/06 00:38:50
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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

8/24/15 David Hollingsworth An intense, and squirm-inducing modern classic. 5 stars
4/09/15 stanley welles compelling, well-written and admirably performed 4 stars
4/15/14 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
10/16/12 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
6/08/12 liker of good movies Wothless 1 stars
3/15/12 PAUL SHORTT DISTURBING BUT ENGROSSING PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER WITH SOME GOOD PERFORMANCES 3 stars
11/09/11 matthew thompson dalldorf Don't forget AUDITION! 1 stars
11/09/11 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
3/21/10 nathan b great directing, acting and editing makes up for its lacking plot. 4 stars
3/12/10 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
9/01/09 SpaceGoat Self-indulgent, ghoulish and sadistic, the target audience clearly being man-haters. 1 stars
7/07/09 Josie Cotton is a goddess Something every moralist will want to masterbait while watching. 1 stars
6/19/09 jeanne Ellen Page was incredible. It goes around, it comes around... 5 stars
3/28/09 GRAPELGANGER Awesome movie... great ending 5 stars
3/25/09 mariah the ending was awesome 4 stars
1/08/09 Lori good movie but pretty odd and nasty 4 stars
1/08/09 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
9/25/08 Timothy Kirkland Smart writing, cast of 5 people, very off center 4 stars
9/13/08 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
7/12/08 Paul's2¢ Two pervs - one who doesn't kill, one who doesn't cut. Vigilante hot air for simpletons. 3 stars
6/30/08 Chris Don't like torture movies (like Hostel - yuck!) and this stinks too, despite good acting. 1 stars
6/11/08 DK A great film, understanding of tension is apparent in Slade's direction. 5 stars
4/29/08 art THIS IS ONE SICK MOVIE 1 stars
4/29/08 dan i think this film was wierd, i thought it was pretty gd but didnt think he deserved 2 die 4 stars
4/08/08 Michelle The ending is lacking. Maybe flashbacks of the girl that was killed would help tie it? 3 stars
4/06/08 bob total shit, with shit ending, and he moved pretty well concidering his balls where cut off, 1 stars
3/28/08 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
1/13/08 David Pollastrini could of used some gore but great and scary 5 stars
1/12/08 TreeTiger Craaaap-o-la 2 stars
1/04/08 Cheryl who's more messed up? . the prick teasing torturing chic or the prick teasee 5 stars
10/19/07 eleanore compelling-- original 4 stars
10/13/07 mr.mike edge of your seat suspense , marred by an unconvincing ending 4 stars
8/06/07 Chris Hansen You're not on Dateline.....bitch!!!! 5 stars
7/23/07 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
5/16/07 Diane I agree with the film critic. Manipulatingly provocative yet badly written, & overdirected. 1 stars
5/15/07 Mackelby I had a hard on from the very beginning, but could never really get off to this. Tease... 3 stars
4/16/07 bob Interesting...would have liked more explanation as to how 'Haley' knew what she knew..... 4 stars
3/22/07 TreeTiger It stunk really bad - stay away from this steaming pile of hot pooh..!! 1 stars
3/11/07 Patterson At some point, the rants become tedious and lose their inherent creepiness.Way too overdone 3 stars
3/06/07 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
12/31/06 Maggie Wow. A must-see. 5 stars
12/26/06 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
12/20/06 ALDO FINALLy A CURE for pediphiles...They will never look at children the same way again 5 stars
12/14/06 T. McGregor This had me squirming in my seat. Fantastic performance from Ellen Paige. 4 stars
12/08/06 malcolm vague; hard for me to believe a 14 y/o can be that malicious and conniving 3 stars
11/29/06 Joanie incredible 5 stars
11/19/06 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
11/15/06 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
11/08/06 Bitchflaps Redundant offal masquerading as a "provocative psychological thriller" *yawn* 1 stars
11/06/06 Indrid Cold I'm ashamed to admit it, but Ellen Page is freaking adorable. 4 stars
11/01/06 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
10/30/06 ES Good watch, but I can see Ellen Page getting on audiences' nerves rather quickly 4 stars
10/19/06 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
10/11/06 Yazzluv I thought it was pretty good...I loved the color palet and the dialog 4 stars
10/09/06 Danny Intense. Very intense indeed. 4 stars
10/08/06 peta press Hate to state the obvious; this is a Nazi film, anti-paedophile instead of anti-semitic!! 5 stars
10/07/06 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
9/21/06 Joe K One to get you talking. Maybe it shows what should happen to all pervs? Loved it! 5 stars
9/19/06 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
9/16/06 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
7/31/06 Jimmy0h I was in a cold sweat!!! 5 stars
7/29/06 c0oki3z Weird but okay.. 4 stars
7/03/06 mike b excruciatingly engrossing 5 stars
6/22/06 vicki Its total crap 1 stars
6/17/06 Don Paco A glorification of torture for the PC crowd: torturing is OK, as long as it's done by girls 1 stars
6/04/06 mary this movie is too boring to be disturbing and too much suspension of belief is required. 1 stars
6/02/06 San Lamar oh my god 5 stars
5/05/06 martha philpotts tremendously thought provoking 5 stars
5/01/06 Ole Man Bourbon Amusing at times, but not much to it. 3 stars
5/01/06 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
4/27/06 Kenneth D. Robin this may be one of the worse movies that I have ever seen. It makes very little sense 1 stars
4/24/06 brendan can someone tell todd the word is 'penchant' not pension. using it twice irritates 3 stars
4/22/06 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
3/28/06 Jennifer nelson incredible 5 stars
4/11/05 Elliot Brilliant and compelling 5 stars
2/07/05 J. Cantor A MUST SEE! 5 stars
1/24/05 Chris Gonsalves Freaky N' Cool 5 stars
12/13/04 SANJA EXELENT WRITER 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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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



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