The first things you will notice about “Hard Candy” is a lot of intriguing cinematography, odd lighting, the use of some nifty colors, angles and other camera effects. This is all that director David Slade had to offer in an attempt to keep you entertained while his story unfolds rather slowly before you. This drama-thriller starts off with an innocent girl meeting a mysterious guy she met online for coffee. Of course, what follows is the nightmare situation that your mother warned you about, but maybe little 14-year-old Hayley Stark (Ellen Page) didn’t have that kind of upbringing.
The man she meets is a nice, intelligent and charming fellow by the name of Jeff (Patrick Wilson). The pair’s conversation quickly turns into a trip to Jeff’s house and, after what seems like a rather lengthy minute-long product placement for the Mini Cooper, everything you thought you thought you knew about this movie is destroyed at an alarming rate. In the span of a few short minutes the hunted becomes the hunter and Jeff is drugged and tied down to an office chair. Unfortunately for this film, the plot twist comes after an exhausting amount of setup. The rest of the film pans out much in the same way – long dialogue and heavy lulls of inactivity with intermittent bursts of action. The saving grace of all this conversing is Hayley’s wit. Her cold, yet sharp remarks to Jeff’s pleas for mercy help pass the time in between the calculated and shocking torture of her captive.
“Hard Candy” is pretty graphic and gruesome, but the most perverted aspect is that you might find yourself hating a 14-year-old girl and sympathizing with a potential child molester and murderer. This causes the audience to partake in emotional torture similar to Jeff’s physical struggle. Hayley apparently thought of everything in planning Jeff’s torment because she’s always at least three steps ahead of him. It all seems unfair and makes Jeff’s attempts to escape futile. So while there may be some issues with the consistency of the plot, “Hard Candy” ends up being pretty thrilling. The concept alone will certainly leave you traumatized and wondering how messed up you would have to have been to write this story.