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With: Patrick Wilson, Ellen Page, Sandra Oh, Jennifer Holmes, Gilbert John
Written by: Brian Nelson
Directed by: David Slade
MPAA Rating: R for disturbing violent and aberrant sexual content involving a teen, and for language
Running Time: 103
Date: 01/01/2005
IMDB

Hard Candy (2006)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Rotten 'Candy'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

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Back in the 1970s, Hard Candy would have been a notorious grindhouse release, like The Last House on the Left, I Spit on Your Grave, Make Them Die Slowly or The Hitcher. These movies made mainstream critics gasp and fans empty their wallets. It's a sad sign of the times that this new film has appeared gutted of anything controversial or intense, and couched in a self-righteous message for moviegoers to chew on. Freckled cutie Ellen Page (later to be seen as Kitty Pryde in X-Men: The Last Stand) stars as 14 year-old Hayley Stark, who meets up with her internet chat partner, 32 year-old Jeff Kohlver (Patrick Wilson) in a café, and accompanies him back to his apartment. She coaxes him into shooting some photos, and the next thing anyone knows, he's been drugged and tied up. The prey has now become the predator. Of the film's many problems, we have to sit through several stupid scenes in which Jeff tries to swindle his way out; he behaves like a dumb teenager in a horror film. And as Hayley becomes more and more conniving and ruthless, we lose sympathy for both characters. Another major problem is that, when it comes to the actual meat and potatoes of the film the filmmakers take a powder. They leave room for the possibility that Hayley is just fooling. However, Haley's many speeches about the evils of pedophilia are not faked. A great film on this disturbing subject deserves to be made, but Hard Candy is way too soft. The wonderful Sandra Oh co-stars in a meaningless role as a nosy neighbor.