Hard Candy (Blu-ray)
“Does my face lie?” This is perhaps one of the most revealing lines spoken in David Slade’s HARD CANDY. The story within the film doesn’t leave much for filler and cuts straight to the chase. This said I believe that it’s appropriate to note that if you haven’t seen this film then you need not read this review. It’s hard to do a proper review of this thing without revealing any details. So from this point on there will be spoilers. Can’t say I didn’t warn you.
This is not any ordinary cautionary tale about internet predators. Before you know it, everything you thought you knew about the rules of prey and predator are thrown out the window…if there were any rules at all. When we first meet Hayley (Ellen Page) her lips are stained with chocolate. She’s a cute and intelligent young girl about the age of fourteen. Hayley has decided to finally meet up with a guy she’s been talking to online for the past 3 weeks, a fashion photographer named Jeff (Patrick Wilson). As you might already have figured out, Jeff is considerably older than Hayley. Eighteen years older in fact.
It’s hard to feel comfortable with the situation from the get go. Even though Jeff seems quite charming, you are immediately pulled away realizing that he is in a coffee shop meeting an underage girl. The two carry on throughout their visit, everything seems as fine as a situation like this can. They are in their own little world for a brief moment of time. He sits adoringly across from her as she sweetly smiles and teases him with words. Toward the end of their disrupted encounter a band that Hayley missed gets brought up. Jeff says that he has one of the songs from the concert bootlegged on a CD back at his house. He never pushes Hayley to go back with him. She actually suggests that they go to his house. This is where the fun begins.
During their drive to Jeff’s your head is filled the ideas of what might happen. As a viewer you aren’t entirely sure what Hayley’s fate is in the hands of Jeff. After all, he is about to have home court advantage. However, Hayley isn’t your typical teenager. When they get back to the house, they banter back and forth. Jeff offers the underage girl a drink, but she knows better than to take mixed drinks from strangers. So she heads to his kitchen to make her own alcoholic concoction. What happens after turns the tables of power in a way that is rarely witnessed.
Hayley quickly goes from pretty prey to fierce predator as soon as Jeff hits the floor from ingesting two glasses of whatever she made him. When he wakes up he finds that Hayley is now the one in control and seeking more than ones fair share of vengeance. With Jeff left helpless, Hayley goes above and beyond the normal tale of revenge. She uses whatever means to reveal Jeff’s past indiscretions and plans to prevent any from happening in the future. The rest of the film is equal parts disturbing and psychologically thrilling.
The key to this film lives solely on the characters. Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson are both well cast in their respective roles. Page quickly overshadows Wilson’s performance. When you see a movie like this, you realized that she has serious potential. There’s a reason why she got popular so fast. For those who can’t get past her JUNO days should really check out this film. Page makes it seem so easy to believe that Hayley is this naïve innocent teen, when she is anything but. I found myself being constantly surprised by the words and actions of Page throughout the duration of the film. David Slade worked on a rather low budget for this film, but made something quite visually appealing out of nothing. The colors and cuts are one of a kind. If Nolan could have made MEMENTO now, it might have looked a bit like this. Slade is also someone with potential, if only we could get him away from anything TWILIGHT related.
The bottom line is HARD CANDY is a must see film. It may not be all sunshine and rainbows, but it goes in a place that isn’t really touched on in film. Plus Page gives a stellar performance to boot. If only little red riding hood could’ve gotten her revenge.
Video: The transfer is incredibly clear and crisp. One of the things I mentioned before was the coloring. Man is it beautiful! Every little thing is insanely visible, almost like you could reach out and touch what you were seeing. The detail is just great. (2.35:1 Widescreen).
Audio: The audio was decent, other than a few times when the voices would come to a whisper. With this one it’s very important to hear every word that the characters are saying. For the most part it’s easy to follow along, but you might want to turn it up a bit. (5.1 DTS-HD).
Commentary with director David Slade and writer Brian Nelson: Now this is a commentary worth listening to. Slade dives into every aspect of the movie. It’s really nice to hear someone who actually sounds like they are into doing something like this. It’s also interesting to pick up on some of the scripting insights with Nelson. I recommend listening to this if you get the chance.
Commentary with Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson: I was surprise that this actually had two commentary tracks. I figured that maybe they would all join in on one, but it’s intriguing to actually listen to the individual perspectives in front of the camera as well without disruption. Page and Wilson basically just talk about the challenges of working on a movie like this one, as well as focusing on their own characters.
“Creating Hard Candy” Making of documentary (51:50): This dives into each part of developing the movie from start to finish. There’s a lot of good detail about what went into the making of the film and a lot of neat tidbits. Also the place to go if you are looking for interviews and so more one on one time with Slade. I should mention that there are spoiler alerts, so watch the movie first before getting to this.
“Controversial Confection” featurette (9:22): This was my personal favorite of the features. Note that there are also spoiler alerts attached to this as well. This really dives into the plot of the film and the dynamic of a predator. Several intriguing issues are explored in this short amount of time.
Deleted and extended scenes (11:00): (Includes First Email, Hayley Reads Janelle’s Letter, Hayley Calls Home, Jeff Tied to Table, Hayley Questions Him About Donna Mauer, Numb Nuts, Shaving) The scenes that are left out are worth watching, but it’s obvious why they were cut out of the film.