A cautionary tale of cyberspace pedophilia served with a sick but satisfying twist, Hard Candy couldn't have come at a more opportune time, given the ubiquitous warnings of online predators that had become a staple of nightly newscasts. Of course, topicality can only get a film so far in terms of finding it an audience, and despite the controversial and somewhat off-putting central concept, it's a clever combination of tense thrills and directorial restraint that prove the ultimate key to Hard Candy's success. Screenwriter Brian Nelson is well aware of how to bring together the various elements needed to craft a nerve-shredding scene, and as he successfully utilizes them all with the skill of a seasoned professional, director David Slade exercises just the right amount of restraint needed to keep the film from veering into the heavy oncoming traffic of the bad-taste lane. Sure there are scenes that will likely rattle more sensitive viewers as each startling revelation leads to a series of chilling confrontations which effectively alternate between the physical and the psychological, but by always being mindful of composition and framing, Slade crafts a film that ultimately relies more on suggestion than it does explicit detail. As for the performances, Patrick Wilson turns in a fittingly warped interpretation of a potential child predator whose protective layers are slowly peeled away to reveal his true inner nature, while innocent-eyed peeler Ellen Page proves just how deceiving looks can really be. Though it certainly won't appeal to all audiences given the subject matter, fearless filmgoers willing to risk chipping a tooth will note that Hard Candy delivers the kind of nonstop thrills that keep the tension simmering and viewers guessing right up to the relentless final frames.
by Jason Buchanan review