Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Hard Candy (2005)

While not a traditional horror film, this psychological thriller does tackle the horrifying issue of pedophilia. It's an emotionally charged film, with rapid, smart dialogue, suspense and two very strong lead actors.

After three weeks of online sexual innuendos, Hayley (Ellen Page), a 14 year old girl, and photographer Jeff (Patrick Wilson), a 30-ish year old man, meet in person at a coffee shop. Hayley's mix of child-like innocence and grown-up intelligence intrigues Jeff, and soon Hayley is riding home with him. At his house, more flirting ensues and soon both are getting a little tipsy. Jeff starts to feel pretty crummy, experiencing blurred vision, slurred words and dizziness...and it can't just be the alcohol at work! When Jeff awakens, he finds himself tied up to a chair. Seems he has become the prey, and Hayley the predator.

Hayley wants vengeance for all the other young girls he has taken advantage of. She also wants to know if he killed a young girl and is determined to find evidence against him. She uses some pretty convincing methods of torture, though the psychological games she plays are much more effective against Jeff.

Though this film deals with sensitive subject matter, it was made respectfully, never "selling out" by showing excessive blood or the torture scenes. Some people complain that it doesn't show enough, but I believe the filmmakers wanted to maintain a certain mood of suspense by not showing too much.

I enjoyed this film for its story, its wonderful cinematography (surprising since most of the film occurs in one location), the actors (I believe Ellen Page will be an actress to be reckoned with, though I haven't seen her in any other films - she has an amazing intensity) and the overall mood and suspense of the film.

I recommend this film, but not as a horror movie. It is dialogue driven, it does not feature any gore, it is not fast-paced, it is not in-your-face shocking, but it doesn't need to be. The subject matter alone should make one queasy.

Order it on Amazon!

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