’31 Days of Horror’ Review – Hard Candy (2005)

by Nile Fortner

With the Flatliners getting horrible reviews, I decided to go back and look at some Ellen Page movies. Ellen Page has had an amazing career, everything from the awkward and lovable teenage girl Juno, to Kitty Pryde in two X-Men films.

Hard Candy is about a girl named Hayley (Ellen Page) that is a precocious teenager who goes to a coffee shop to meet a older man named Jeff (Patrick Wilson), the photographer she met on the Internet. Jeff thinks he is in for a real treat, but Hayley plays a trick on him. After drugging Jeff and tying him down, Hayley reveals that she knows Jeff preys on teenage girls and she has a plan to wring a confession from him.

“Crazy 14 year old just cut off my balls!” says Patrick Wilson in the movie. Just when you thought teenage girls couldn’t get any scarier, you come across the film ‘Hard Candy’. I wanted to go back and re-watch this flick. Even though it isn’t really a horror film, it has a horror premise.

Hayley, a teenage girl, agrees to meet a thirty something year old, played by Patrick Wilson (‘Watchmen’ and ‘The Conjuring’), who is a fashion photographer. The two met in an online chat room, and the encounter of a predator meets the prey makes for an interesting story. But, as the film goes on, we ask ourselves who is the predator, and who is the prey? The film builds up some pretty good tension. I believe, that from the first scene, the viewer automatically feels uncomfortable. We really do get a fluster of nerves in our gut, from that opening scene. We do not know what to expect, and as the film goes on it becomes an interesting concept of cat and mouse. This one film really is a mixed bag of different genres in one movie. We get a drama, thriller, horror, mystery, and a psychological thriller. This is a good example of different genres mixing to tell one good story.

This movie may have a simple premise, but it’s a great execution and has great performances. After seeing Ellen Page in this, and seeing her in other films, I believe Ellen Page is not only a great actress now, but will be a great actress for years and years to come. She plays the role so well, and honestly I found her quite scary. For instance, there is one scene, where it involves Jeff tied to a steel table, with his genitals on ice, and Hayley saying she will castrate him (you do the math). Ellen Page is literally Jigsaw from the ‘Saw’ horror movies, when it comes to Patrick Wilson’s balls. Even though that may sound pleasing to some people, Ellen Page’s performance had me gasping, sweating, and frightened.

I mainly wanted to talk about this film for our ’31 Days of Horror’ because of its plot. Yes, it does sound and plays out like a horror. However, I think most people would look at this from a psychological thriller and suspense standpoint. Another thing that makes this more of a horror for me is that it feels very claustrophobic. Even though there are not a lot of locations throughout this film, they make the best of the one location. I like how in Jeff’s home, the pictures he had on his walls from his fashion photography work, said something about his possible personality, if you really look at them. Similarly, there is a scene in the movie at 1 hour and 20 minute mark, where Hayley is hanging up a picture, of a young woman looking at a window. However, the window is covered by curtains. I personally take that as, maybe the character Hayley wants a way out, to see the truth in front of her, but can’t.

Hard Candy is good nail biting film that really has you pulled in from the very first scene and is very dialogue heavy. Meaning if you are the kind of person who isn’t into a lot of characters talking, and more about characters doing, this film may not be for you. Personally, I didn’t mind all the conversation between the characters. I actually think this film is one of Ellen Page’s and Patrick Wilson’s best and this movie should be more popular with people. 

I am giving Hard Candy a 4 out of 5 Hairpieces!



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