December 27, 2006 -- This movie reminded me a lot of the old film “Sleuth” because most of action revolves around just two characters, and most of it takes place in one room, like a stage play. It is not a particularly believable story, but it is interesting and features some good performances by the two main characters, Hayley Stark (played by Ellen Page of “X-Men: The Last Stand”) and Jeff Kohlver (Patrick Wilson of “Phantom of the Opera”).
Stark, a 14-year-old girl, meets the much older Kohlver in an Internet chat room and the two decide to get together. Stark, who seems much too smart to fall for such an obvious child molester ploy, agrees to accompany Kohlver back to his place alone to hear an MP3 file of a concert by her favorite band. The two go back to his place and end up having drinks. It looks like Stark is about to become a victim of Kohlver's evil seduction.
Only it turns out that Kohlver is the victim here, not Stark, who soon has him literally screaming for mercy. A few of the film's many deep, dark secrets are slowly revealed. It is no accident how these two got together. What is not fully explained is exactly why Stark is out to get Kohlver in the first place. There is a definite connection between the two that is not explained fully in the film. It has something to do with a previous victim of Kohlver's and a mysterious partner he once had. There is also a mysterious romantic relationship that Kohlver once had which is hinted at in the film. Much of the back story remains hinted at but mostly unexplored.
The story is not very believable because Stark acts too much like an adult and there is no way she should be able to overpower a much larger, stronger person the way she does in the film. Her ability to psychologically dominate Kohlver is also not very believable, since Kohlver has a pretty strong personality himself. Then there is the back story that is hinted at. The back story could explain a lot about what is going on in the film, but it is more of a tease than an explanation. The film becomes more and more difficult to believe as it goes on. The viewer is asked to accept a whole lot of the story on faith. As a psychological thriller, it works well enough to marginally recommend it, though. Hard Candy, by the way, is a slang term for an underage girl, like “jail bait.” You kids out there. Don't try this. This kind of plan only works in the movies. This film rates a C+.
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