Friday, June 29, 2007

Hard Candy: A Review

"Everybody will be safer if I do a little preventive maintenance"

Hayley Stark, the 14-year-old girl
in Hard Candy (2005)

Sounds tame, huh? That's because you don't know what she meant by "preventive maintenance".

Cool shit poster, right?

This is a review of the 2005 flick, Hard Candy. If you haven't watch the movie, stop reading now. If you haven't watch the movie and don't plan to anyway, please continue reading. If you're the sort that likes to find out the plot twists and ending of a movie before watching it, you can continue reading too if you like.


Hayley Stark (left) played by Ellen Page, and Jeff Kohlver (right) played by Patrick Wilson.

First off, I don't know which genre I should categorise this flick. It's either a horror, a psych triller or a artsy-fartsy-I-wanna-win-the-Palme-d'Or-at-Cannes sort of feature. Personally, I type flicks into five distinct groups;
  • Intelligent - Movies that are clever without appearing that it consciously think it does. Infernal Affairs and The Usual Suspects are good examples.
  • Pseudo-intelligent - Movies that makes you feel as if the director constantly pats himself on his own back all through the film's production thinking that he's OMGGENIUS to direct such an incredibly clever flick e.g. The Departed *coughmassivecrapcough*
  • Fucking Incredible - Beautiful, expensive, big-budgeted blockbusters with more stars than the Milky Way. Case in point; The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
  • Mindless Fun - Non-existent storyline, but heck of a lot of fun to watch anyway. The best example of this category is 300; THIS... IS... SPARTA!
  • Flicks that makes me feel as if I learnt something but I'm not quite sure what - Movies that would haunt my waking hours for weeks to come after I watch them, such as Ghost World, American Beauty, Lost in Translation, etc.

Hard Candy
belongs to Flicks that makes-me-feel-as-if-I-learnt-something-but-I'm-not-quite-sure-what group, with a slight tinge of Pseudo-intelligent and a bit of Mindless Fun in it. The central theme of this movie is paedophilia. In fact, the title "Hard Candy" is an internet slang for an underage girl.

Hard Candy is a gabby show, I must warn you. The whole movie is one long conversation between the two main characters. They'll talk...


... and talk...


... and talk *yawn*...


... and talk,

Nonstop through the whole near-two-hours of the entire film; flirting, arguing, accusing, insulting and shouting at each other while all the other characters only has about 5 minutes tops of screen time combined - not that there's many other characters anyway. In fact, there's only three other actors; Sandra Oh from Grey's Anatomy who played a housewife living next-door to paedophile Jeff, an unknown guy who was a clerk in a cafe, and a non-entity who acted as the paedophile Jeff's ex-girlfriend. That's it. You'll only get to see five humans in this entire movie, which goes a lot to explain why the whole show feels so desolate, as if no one can hear you no matter how much you scream.

As for the plot, this picture summarises it all;

Yeap, that's basically it.

The movie starts off with an internet chatroom conversation displayed on a computer screen (did I mention there's a lot of tête-à-tête in this?) where 14-year-old honor student Hayley and 32-year-old photographer Jeff flirts shamelessly with each other, before finally agreeing to meet in some local coffee shop for real. Then, after more yada-yada, Hayley suggests that she should go to Jeff's house to listen to some recording of an obscure band's concert which she missed.

At Jeff's place, Jeff offered Hayley a glass of water which she refused, saying that she was taught to never ever drink anything she didn't mix herself. She then proceeded to the kitchen and made screwdrivers for both of them. Unbeknownst to Jeff, Hayley added a little something extra to his glass.

After more talk, Hayley insisted that Jeff should take out his camera and snap some pictures of her, like those Jeff displayed on his walls (all underage models; what sort of photographer was Jeff really anyway?). Hayley was posing seductively on a couch without her shirt when Jeff blacks out from the 'Chemical X' Hayley spiked his drink with earlier. I must say; Ellen Page has a really hot bod which we totally didn't get enough of when she played Kitty Pryde (or Shadowcat, who can phase through walls) in the third X-Men movie. I'm not a paedophile, okay? She's only a year younger than me!

He found that he was tied to a chair when he woke up, and both him and Hayley yakked some more. The girl however had a total change of character. She became abusive, sarcastic and harsh. She called Jeff a paedophile and insisted that he was the one who kidnapped a local girl who had went missing and claimed that he had murdered her. Then she gave brief, angry monologue on how 'girls may act like women but they are not women' and that he was the 'responsible adult' and shit like that. I find that overly preachy - powerfully delivered, but sounded too much like a community service message. Props to Ellen Page. Pffft to the scriptwriter.

Hayley then stormed through Jeff's house, practically tearing the pad apart in her search for evidence that Jeff's a paedophile (one of my favourite scenes in this flick). She finally uncovered a combination safe hidden under some pretentious indoor-rock-filled-ornament-thingy. She cleverly deduced the password but she was knocked out by Jeff, who managed to land a solid kick in spite of being tied down to a chair. Lesson to be learnt here; Never tie your prisoners to a chair with wheels.

He frantically wheeled his chair to his room, picked up his handgun, and came out again, finding that Hayley had disappeared. She reappeared behind him and subdued him with some plastic wrap around his face, but not before he managed to smash Hayley repeatedly into the wall.

When he woke up for the second time, he found that he'd been tied to a table without his pants and a bag of ice on his pee-pee. It turns out that Jeff kept his kiddie porn in that safe, confirming that he was indeed a paedophile and blowing all his lies to pieces. Besides that, Hayley also found a picture of the missing local girl posing in front of that same coffee shop Hayley and Jeff went to, implicating Jeff with her disappearance. What happened next (after more talking, of course) was my favourite part of the show;

This is where she spoke the quote at the start of this post.

She shaved his pubes and cut off his balls. She then tossed them into the waste disposal unit where they got ground to mush. I cringed an awful lot through that (and clutched my own nuts in mental agony). Strangely enough, I also kept laughing through that. I simply couldn't help it - Hayley was being so incredibly cute through the whole ordeal.

Jeff: What the fuck are you doing?

Hayley: I have to shave you down here down here. I mean, I can't have any hair on the incision site, right?

Jeff: What?!

Hayley: Oh, I've been using my dad's medical library at school, and um - what you said - I was pretty bright, right? I think I'm smart enough to perform a successful castration.

That happened right in the middle of the movie. The rest of the show involved a couple of unexpected twists and a slow and clinical psychological torture (which means they talk a whole lot more) where Hayley managed to persuade Jeff to hang himself. The end. Sorry, I got lazy writing out the whole tale. Let us just skip that and go into this;

What I like about the flick;
  • Ellen Page is hot.
  • And yeah, Ellen Page is also a superbly convincing actress, by the way. She's the gullible teenager, the sarcastic, sullen teenager, and the teenage psychopath all-in-one. I like the way she talks. So the insane amount of talking you get in this flick is a good thing - at least it is, in my book. I'm going to catch every movie she stars in from now on.
  • Someone's testicles got cut out.
  • That someone is conscious through the entire balls-cutting torment.
  • The fact that next-to-nothing is revealed about the character Hayley. We aren't told why she's hunting down Jeff. We aren't told why she hates paedophiles so much. In fact, Hayley might not even be her real name. She's like some sort of deviously clever, sadistic, 14-year-old force of nature.
  • Ellen Page is hot.

What I hate about this flick;
  • Patrick Wilson (that guy who played Jeff) didn't scream enough when he got his balls cut out.
  • Ellen Page didn't take off her training bra.

What made me say "What the fuck!" out loud;
  • Turns out that Hayley didn't actually cut out his balls after all but just clamped his nut-sac with a big bulldog clip.
  • When Sandra Oh's neighbourly character, Mrs. Tokuda talked to Hayley, she acted as if she the nasty, bloody cut on Hayley's forehead was invisible. I mean, wouldn't you be concerned if you're talking to someone with an ugly, bleeding gash above her brows? She should have shown at least a bit of curious suspicion, like keep trying to steal glances at the cut, for example, instead of having bricks-for-face. That goes a lot to show what kind of crappy actress she is, and while I'm at it - Grey's Anatomy sucks. House MD roolz!

What made me show my middle finger at the screen when I was watching this flick;
  • The paedophile Jeff let Hayley talk into him into committing suicide by threatening to reveal his dark, lurid fetish to Jeff's ex-girlfriend, who he was still madly in love with.

What we have here is a movie that is cool and crappy at the same time. This flimsy collection of plot-holes and badly motivated character actions (especially Jeff's) are fortunately held together by intelligent dialogues and top-hole performance from Ellen Page, of whom I could not get enough of, despite the fact that she already got at least 2/3 of the total screen time in this entire film.

I give Hard Candy a 6 out of 10. This is most definitely not a good movie for those with short attention spans. However, if you're into sick, sadistic psychopaths (like me!) and intelligent conversations, this flick is definitely worth a watch. And if you're a paedophile, consider yourself warned; The next cute, innocent underage chick you bring back home might just cut off your balls for real and eat 'em.

Ellen Page's newest fan,
k0k s3n w4i


bevE said...

there was a pedo lurking around my school a few days ago. he was caught almost right outside my school.

if there's one thing the british hate, it's paedophiles. *suddenly thinks of madeleine*

well now i don't have to watch the movie. (although my mum did borrow it last year to watch. she has a short attention span so.. yeh.)

here's your comment. =P

k0k s3n w4i said...

It wasn't known who took madeleine right? it might be a paedophile, it might not.

The closest thing to a paed I've seen was a flasher that go loose in my primary school (and it was an all dudes school at that).

The British hates lots of things, foreigners esp.

here's your reply. =P

Anonymous said...

This was the worst movie I ever had the displeasure of sitting through. "Dude Where's My Car" had a deeper and more believable storyline.

The "little girl" in this movie looks like a little boy. Her poor attempts at sarcasm simply fill in the quiet moments of this very looooong and boring conversation of a "film".

Who cares if the guy is a pedophile or a killer? The actress is so annoying, I was really hoping he would break free and beat her to death.

How did she find the killers in the first place? Am I to believe the LAPD is looking to apprehend the killers of the missing girl, and this girl found them in chatrooms that easily?

Why would the guy kill himself at the end? Why would he care if his ex-girlfriend knew any of this stuff. He clearly was not with her any longer. He "loved" her so much that he hung himself? LOL!

This has no more worth than an episode of Howard Stern.

If you are easily entertained, then this is the movie for you. This movie is catered to self righteous people who need to feel justified to enjoy the gorefest movies that they secretly enjoy anyway.

Anonymous said...

To the anon above - I hate horror movies, but I liked this one. To the original blog owner - I have a horrible attention span, but I found it easy to get through, even though, yes, they talked a whole fucking lot. To each their own, I guess.

andymather said...

Nobody seems to get this. It's not a slasher flick, a horror flick, a public service announcement, or (so far as we know) a revenge flick. It's a psych thriller - Jeff gets exposed (pun intended) and punked big time.

Jeff has already admitting being at the murder scene, but claims he "just watched." (Ick) One of Hayley's last lines is "Aaron said the same thing about you before he committed suicide." Jeff was at least her second victim. We know nothing about Hayley - her real name, age (Ellen was 17 when it was shot), or how she tracked the guys down.

Sure, there are plot holes, but I buy the Jeff's suicide. Death would look pretty good compared the life he was in for.

Anonymous said...

No one seemed to notice.. The castration was psychological torture. The tape had cartoons on it, not a castration. His balls had a paperclip on them, not stitches. Then he said son of a b***. Plus he only looked at his junk for a second.