Movie of the Day – Hard Candy

When we go to the movie, we are there to be entertained or informed.  So often we get more entertainment than deep subject studies, that sometimes we don’t realize that movies are meant to push a social boundary that we don’t discuss openly.  Most of the movies that dare to go into the darker edge of society are usually disregarded and pushed under other film releases.

A small film released in 2005 looked to tackle a subject matter that, well, frightens people.  A movie about a supposed encounter between an online sexual predator and a young 14 year old girl.  Hard Candy took this concept of online predators and crafted a tense psychological thriller that is chilling and down right frightening.  A movie that takes the young innocent being preyed upon and flipping it on its head, where the young girl is out to trap the predator.

The film opens with an online chat log between a young girl and an older man, in which they both  plan to meet at a local coffee house.  The young girl is named Hayley Stark (Ellen Page) who is a 14 year old student and the older man is 32 year old photographer Jeff Kohlver (Patrick Wilson).  After some more flirtation, he gets Hayley to come back to his house for an impromptu photo shoot.  They both have a drink and  Hayley begins undressing to have Jeff take photos of her like the ones of the models on his wall.  Jeff becomes dizzy and passes out.  Jeff wakes up shortly after and finds himself tied to a chair.  Hayley begins to tell Jeff why she drugged and bound him, explaining that she has been hunting Jeff for a while.  Hayley begins to toy with Jeff, stringing him along her psychotic game and torture plan.

Hard Candy is a dense film to watch with the incorporation minimalistic settings, a focus on ambient sounds rather than a soundtrack, and tight framing to keep the tension taut.  Every frame of this movie is gorgeous to look at and keeping it simplistic, we can put our focus on the teasing and taunting that Hayley puts Jeff through.  The psychological aspect of the movie is heightened when you take into account that a 14 year old girl has become the hunter in this sense and has finally trapped her older prey.

Ellen Page plays this innocent Venus fly trap of a character and you buy into this young innocence that she has early in the film.  We see her as young and impressionable thus letting us be taken in by her youth and naivety.  Like a switch, she goes from Jekyll to Hyde in a matter of moments, controlling Patrick Wilson’s character at every turn and only letting him think that the is capable of over powering her.  Hayley is sadistic and controlling, which enhances the tension of the movie.  I was taken aback when I first watched the movie.  I think as audience members we could internalize the action on the screen and accept what was  happening if the girl was 18.  That’s not to say that a guy taking advantage of a girl is ok if  she is older, it’s just that when the girl is 14 in this case, we are in a state of disbelief with her actions.  She exhibits a sadistic and vengeful nature, but is cold and calculating when it comes to executing this plan.

Hard Candy is a start to finish tense thriller.  It never lets up from the meeting at the coffee shop to when they arrive at Jeff’s house.  Ellen Page is mesmerizing and scary to watch her just change personalities at a whim and toy with Patrick Wilson’s character at every turn.  With the tight pacing and tension of the movie, the lead up to the ending scene is brutal.  I won’t spoil it for but to say that everything was planned down the wire by Hayley is incredible and well done.

If you don’t mind the early, creepy subject matter of the movie, this is a tense thriller.  One of the better thrillers I have had the chance to watch, this was a low budget, beautifully shot movie that has the “balls” to take the a story and keep pushing it further along towards its end.  The cat and mouse game between the two has you  on edge and the way a young girl can become this controlling “monster” is something you haven’t glimpsed before on film, at least not well done anyways.  Definitely add this to your queue and enjoy the suspense.

About Nick
I am just another blogger putting his thoughts into a website. My love is movies so most of my musings will be movie related. I work as an online marketer for an advertising company and when I am not earning a paycheck, I moonlight as a vigilante film blogger.

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