Thonggrrrl14 , aka Hayley, agrees to meet Lensman319, aka Jeff, at a local coffee shop. They head back to his pad, the 14-year-old and the mature photographer, where Hayley drugs Jeff, ties him up and prepares to wreak some overdue revenge on behalf of all the other poor girls who have ever been hoodwinked and then abused by someone who should know better. First threatening to castrate him following procedures she learnt online – see how the internet gives but also takes? – she then spends a good amount of time messing with his head, in scenes which should be punctuated with reminders to breathe. Which way is this thriller going to play out? It’s a two-hander with remarkable 17-year-old Ellen Page as Hayley. Patrick Wilson is similarly impressive as the perp – though his agent probably isn’t pushing the film to the top of Wilson’s resumé. Hard Candy must have cost the price of a few takeaway sandwiches but is an assured switch for director David Slade from pop promos for Stone Temple Pilots and Aphex Twin into grown-up (if that’s not an inappropriate term here) drama. The film itself has an interesting arc. As already suggested, it starts out as a movie about a paedophile, then switches focus from him to her, becoming a revenge movie in the process, before finally switching again, becoming something of a plea for more intervention by the authorities – how come this sort of shit is going on – sort of thing. But also, en route to its grisly finale, the film does something odd – it starts to make us feel sorry for the poor, confused, hormonally driven loser guy. That, surely wasn’t the intention.
© Steve Morrissey 2006