Film Review: Hard Candy (2006)


A 14-year-old goes home with a guy in his 30s. What follows is a nightmarish power struggle. Hard Candy is an intense character-driven thriller that succeeds primarily on the merits of two incredible performances from Patrick Wilson (Watchmen) and Ellen Page (Juno). The screenplay by Brian Nelson dives into murky moral waters, asking us to empathize with a young girl who inflicts torture and a grown man who may or may not be a pedophile.

It’s refreshing to see a movie where good and evil aren’t so black and white, and where two performances are allowed to carry the entire film. Page is talented beyond her years and completely diabolical, while Wilson delivers a brave, vulnerable performance that you rarely see from men in the movies. The film marks the feature directorial debut of David Slade, who cut his teeth on several music videos before tackling Hard Candy with a surprising sense of austere beauty. I especially love the choice of locations, the overall color palette, and Slade’s widescreen compositions. (Unfortunately, after Hard Candy, Slade would go on to direct less interesting fare like 30 Days of Night and one of those shitty Twilight movies.)

There’s some thorny psychology toward the end, and the movie throws in some unnecessary twists in the final scenes, but this is dark, disturbing, provocative stuff. If you have testicles, it could be one of the scariest movies you ever see.

Rating: 4/5 ★★★★☆ 


About Scott_S

Scott studied film and sociology at Indiana University and is currently the video producer for a large publishing company. He is the director of several independent films, including "House of Hope," "Off the Beaten Path," "The Day Joe Left," and "Found." For more about Scott, visit Scott is also one of the principal organizers of the Dark Carnival Film Festival. (

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