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Hard Candy

USA 2005
produced by
Michael Caldwell, David Higgins, Richard Hutton, Jody Patton, Rosanne Korenberg (executive), Paul G. Allen (executive) for Vulcan Productions, Launchpad Productions/Lionsgate
directed by David Slade
starring Patrick Wilson, Ellen Page, Sandra Oh, Jennifer Holmes (= Odessa Rae), Gilbert John
written by Brian Nelson, music by Harry Escott, Molly Nyman

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Jeff (Patrick Wilson), a photographer in his 30's, has met 14-year-old Hayley (Ellen Page) in an internet chatroom, persuaded her to meet him, plus he even manages to invite her back to his house, where she doesn't seem in the least bit shocked that he offers her alcohol, but she insists to mix the cocktails so he won't slip anything into her drink. The alcohol soon makes her uninhibited and she tries to persuade him to make sexy photos of her ... when he collapses.

When Jeff wakes up again, he finds himself tied to a chair and Hayley admits that she has drugged him, because she thinks him to be a paedophile - which he strongly denies, but Hayley seems quite sure about it and she searches his whole house ... until she finds a safe and in it not only photos of sex with minors but also a (non-dirty) photograph of a girl who is missing and presumed dead - and Hayley thinks Jeff has to do with it ...

Eventually, Jeff attempts to escape, but Hayley can overcome him again and soon he finds himself tied to the kitchen table, with Hayley promising to castrate him - which she ultimately even performs, with the precision of a surgeon, only causing him minimal pain and bloodloss and even stitching him up after the operation.

But Hayley can't be on alert all of the time, so at some point after the operation, Jeff makes good his escapes, and not only that, he manages to grab a knife and turn the tables on Hayley, making her the hunted ... or so he thinks.

In the end, Jeff finds Hayley on the top of his houses roof, a gun in hand, offering him a noose to kill himself for the easy way out, because she obviously has taken everything into account and has long called Jeff's former girlfriend Janelle (Jennifer Holmes) and his one true love, whom he obviously cannot let find out that he is a paedophile and killer. In a last attempt to save his own life, Jeff confesses everything, that he really was present at the missing girl's death, but he did not kill her, it was a friend, and in exchange for his life, he would help Hayley track him down ... but Hayley has long tracked the other guy down, has long helped him kill himself, and actually she got Jeff's name from him ...

Ultimately, Jeff hangs himself, just before Janelle can enter his house and see his true colours, and just because Hayley promises him to remove all the evidence ... which she has actually no intention to do ...

 

Powerful if at times uncomfortable (psycho) drama that for the most part just revolves around its two leads who give great performances to make the film really come to life, plus for the most part, the direction is tense in a classic sort of way and stays clear of too glossy, flashy pictures just to please the hipster crowd.

Recommended - but not for the squeamish.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
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you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
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starring
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out now on DVD