Cross Misery with Lolita and you'll have this schoolgirl tortures paedophile tale down pat|
by Dan Hall, Former Film editor, by Friday, June 16, 2006 at 5:22pm
A controversial thriller/ horror, shot in only 18 days for less than $1 million, that sees a young schoolgirl taking revenge on an internet paedophile.
Ellen Page plays 14 year old Hayley, who meets a charming fashion photographer, Jeff (Wilson), on the Net and agrees to a rendezvous at his local coffee shop.
After plying his underage buddy with sweets and silver tongued compliments, Jeff eventually manages to convince Hayley to come back to his house to listen to his record collection.
When they arrive he then does the only sensible thing for a single 32 year old man entertaining a girl less than half his age in his home mixes a couple of vodka cocktails and starts taking pictures of her in her pants.
But after his second drink things start to get a bit hazy for our charming hero and he wakes to hear Hayley declare: playtimes over Jeff before carrying out what she describes as a bit of preventive maintenance". Ouch!
Total Film: "Great performances, a savage script and clever direction make this a future cult property with a leading lady you must get to know.
Empire: "A cracking little thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Its not easy viewing, but Hard Candy is an intelligent, challenging film which deserves to be seen.
Channel 4: "Like a torturer, Hard Candy extracts unpalatable truths from its squirming audience. Revenge may be sweet, but it is rarely so hard.
We like to think of ourselves as a fairly battle hardened reviewing team here at Mansized - we sat through all of Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo after all - but this modern day morality tale/ exploitation thriller proved to be an unusually uncomfortable watch.
In fact, so impressed was horror supremo Wes Craven with Hard Candys gruesome castration scenes that he invited first time director David Slade to helm a remake of his notorious Seventies rape revenge movie The Last House on the Left.
Slades debut is a taut two hander that could be described as mix between Misery and Lolita, with a bit of Charles Bronson thrown in for good measure.
Page, who was last seen as Shadowcat in X Men 3, flicks effortlessly from naïve schoolgirl to psychotic avenger in a staggering performance for one so young (she was only 17 at the time), which is all the more impressive considering that she features in virtually every shot of the film.
Wilson gives a similarly accomplished turn, and it is a measure of his performance that many viewers will end up feeling some sympathy for his character despite what we learn about his sordid past.
The only minor gripe with their pairing is that the dialogue heavy scenes occasionally feel more like theatre than cinema, and it would have been nice to have a bit more exposition about Hayleys past as her motivation for vengeance is never properly explained.
A strong special features package that includes two insightful commentaries from the principal players.
First up are writer Nelson and director David Slade, whose erudite talk track covers a variety of topics ranging from the formers inspiration for the story to the latters regrets about material he simply didnt have time to include in the final edit.
In the alternate commentary, actors Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson then reveal what a challenge it was to work on such a dialogue driven movie, with an unusually small cast and tiny budget.
If thats not enough for you there is also a 52 minute making of documentary (divided into seven chapters for ease) which includes mountains of information about the film from conception to post production.
Finally, there are six deleted or extended scenes although, sadly, there is no commentary explaining reasons for their absence.