Hard Candy (2006)
Directed by David Slade

Starring Ellen Page Patrick Wilson

An awesome little thriller from first-time director David Slade, "Hard Candy" is the kind of sick and twisted numbers they used to make in the depraved 1970s, only with a more feminist edge and violence that is hinted at, but not shown.

Wilson is a 30-something, modern-day fashion photographer who, like Roman Polanski, has a penchant for young girls. He meets them on the Internet, and after flirting with one on instant messenger, takes her out for a milk shake, then home for vodkas. The girl is just 14 (played convincingly by 19-year-old actress Page, who starred in "X-Men 3" the same year).

But when he lets her mix the vodka drinks, something goes amiss. The photographer wakes up to find himself bound to a chair, and at the mercy of an apparently psychotic 14-year-old girl who plans to seek vengeance on behalf of every teenager victimized by predators the world over.

The 90 minutes that follow are among the brutal and intense seen in any film since well "The Passion of the Christ." Page is both terrifying and strangely noble as the vengeful honor student with an axe to grind. Considering that the film basically just consists of two actors filmed in a house makes the film all the more impressive. But it's Page who really carries the picture, delivering screenwriter Brian Nelson's clever dialogue so convincingly, we actually become scared for the child predator that she's tormenting.

The torture that is depicted is so gut-wrenching, this film is going to be difficult for any guy with testicles to watch without at least thinking about throwing up. When things degenerate to the point of all-out-war between this pedophile and his girl torturer toward the end, the film reaches a level of intensity not seen since the days of "Last House on the Left", never quite reaching that film's ferocity but coming pretty close. Unfortunately, the ending isn't believable but still delivers a decent punch.

The film was a minor art-house success but certainly not a big hit. Don't expect a "Hard Candy 2."

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-- Review by Lucius Gore

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