R - for language and for disturbing violent and aberrant sexual content involving a teen
Run-time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Directed by: David Slade
Starring: Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson
On my inaugural "DVD Challenge" post, I delved into a bit of a psychological thriller with the 2006 independent film, Hard Candy. It's a cautionary tale about meeting someone in an online chat room, but it has a little twist. Normally, you'd think that the caution should lie with young girls who should be on the lookout for prowling older men. Hard Candy, however, takes that notion and turns it on its ear, making the young girl the "villain."
Part of the reason the film works so well is because of the brilliant performances by Patrick Wilson and a pre-Juno Ellen Page. Because they're the only two characters shown on-screen (with some momentary exceptions), the film's entirety rests on their acting. Let me tell you now: they do not disappoint in the slightest. They both bring two very different characters to the screen. Wilson is entirely believable as a man who's being held against his will, but it really is Page that steals the show. She's so disturbingly demented that it's almost impossible to keep your eyes off her Hayley Stark. I'm a bit of a sucker for characters with a warped psychology, and Hayley totally fits the bill. She's technically the villain here (and I tend to agree, as is evidenced by her inclusion on my "favorite villains" post), but if you call her that, then you have to consider Wilson's Jeff Kohlver to be an "anti-hero" rather than a "hero." You want to cheer for him and hope he'll be okay, but there's definitely enough reason to hate him.
I've only seen this flick once before tonight, and I had forgotten just how fantastic the screenplay was as well. The story is going to keep you riveted to the screen as it offers the perfect amount of twists and turns. In addition, we get a fantastic bit of character development because we're only working with two characters through the entire flick. If you can't get into the story, you can easily get into the characters.
I do think I should caution all the guys out there who may want to watch this. There is one particular scene that's going to make you squirm a little bit, but you can probably suck it up and stick it out. It's a fantastic film that's going to leave you thinking, but I personally think it's worth your time.
Best All-Time: #180
Best Horror/Thriller: #19