David Slade's directorial feature film debut has garnered much word of mouth thanks to its twisted take on an all too common concept.
The film opens as 14 year old Hayley flirts in an online chat room with 32 year old photographer Jeff. The two agree to meet and so begins a twisted tale that will have male audience members holding back tears as they hold onto their nads.
When Hayley recognises a picture of a girl in Jeff's house as that of a missing school girl, the audience soon begins to worry that she has been led into a trap by a paedophile, but things are never what they seem; something which continues right up until the chilling climax.
The film relies on the performances of Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson and they definitely succeed in holding your interest for two hours. Only three other people ever grace the screen in Hard Candy and their small roles may seem insignificant to many, but they add so much to the proceedings, especially Sandra Oh's Judy Tokuda, who must have nailed her part, as one audience member in my screening rightly described her as a 'nosy bitch'.
Slade's flashy music video visuals and Brian Nelson's stage-like screenplay work well together as the two central characters play mind control games and manipulate each other.
Deeply psychological and darkly disturbing, Hard Candy is an impressive debut from some wonderful new talents.