For as long as I can remember, my mother has watched Dateline and 20/20. In the early 90's stories about pedophiles and child molesters were featured nearly every Goddamn week which, as you can imagine, made me develop a fear of being abducted and locked in someone's basement. As I got older and the World Wide Web became available in every home, new stories were featured about internet predators stalking their innocent victims through chat rooms and that damndable Myspace. By then I was old enough to know if you were dumb enough to chat with someone you didn't know, you probably deserved what was coming to you.
Hard Candy (2005)
When I saw the previews for Hard Candy, I was a little bit excited. Also with all my Dateline and 20/20 watching, I consumed a lot of Lifetime movies. They dealt with similar subject matter and often concluded with some tear stained woman whispering to her daughter, "It's all over now." These movies, being products of TV were sanitized and neutered and always afraid to go the extra mile. Hard Candy goes all the way to the moon.
The film begins in a chat room where Thonggrrrl14 (14 year old Hayley Stark played by 18 year old Ellen Page) and Lensman319 (32 year old Jeff Kohlver played by 32 year old Patrick Wilson) are typing flirtatiously. They decide to meet at a nearby coffee shop. After more flirting, Hayley goes to Jeff's place where he shows her his work: photographs of young, female models. Hayley then mixes a pair of screwdrivers and dances seductively. Jeff realizes he's been drugged and wakes up tied to a chair.
That's where I'll stop, because I've already given too much away. The trailer and poster portray this film as a modern day Little Red Riding Hood; Hayley was just a dumb kid fooling around the internet, she shouldn't have talked to strangers, but now she's strayed from the path and it's up to her to save herself because no woodcutter is going to come to her rescue. Believe me, Hard Candy is not that movie.
I enjoy the Lifetime movie on steroids aspect of the whole thing. For the most part, the entire film takes place in Jeff's house which adds a claustrophobic intensity. (Good God, if this was a play...) Plus, it's nice to see a young character as intelligent as Hayley, even if it is a tad unrealistic that a 90 pound girl could pull everything off.
Hard Candy is not for everyone. In fact, it's probably for about 20% of the population.There are several uncomfortable moments and psychological torture a-plenty. I think men will hate it solely for a later scene, whether you yourself are a pedophile or not. The film forces you to pick a side, but neither party is entirely innocent and it's up to the viewer to decide who is right if anyone is, in fact, right.