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Hard Candy (2005)



Average Rating: 6.4/10
Reviews Counted: 138
Fresh: 94 | Rotten: 44

Disturbing, controversial, but entirely engrossing, Hard Candy is well written with strong lead performances, especially that of newcomer Ellen Page. A movie that stays with the viewer long after leaving the theater.


Average Rating: 6.1/10
Critic Reviews: 38
Fresh: 24 | Rotten: 14

Disturbing, controversial, but entirely engrossing, Hard Candy is well written with strong lead performances, especially that of newcomer Ellen Page. A movie that stays with the viewer long after leaving the theater.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 104,167

My Rating

Movie Info

A teenage girl agrees to meet a thirtysomething fashion photographer in person after becoming acquainted with him in an online chat room, and the resulting encounter finds the line between predator and prey slipping slowly out of focus in director David Slade's provocative and topical thriller. Hayley (Ellen Page) is a 14-year-old teen whose emotional maturity seems to betray her tender age. Jeff (Patrick Wilson) is a potential child predator whose intentions toward his young chat buddy seem


Drama, Horror, Mystery & Suspense

Brian Nelson

Sep 19, 2006


Lions Gate Films - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (139) | Top Critics (38) | Fresh (94) | Rotten (44) | DVD (24)

Personally, I'd rather have this movie obliterated from my memory.

November 15, 2011 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader | Comments (3)
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Packaged in an increasingly lurid, credibility-free storyline, delivered with unstinting insensitivity by a first-time director determined to show off his ad-man's box of visual tics.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's well worth seeing, because it is well made -- apart from a few gaps in logic -- and well acted.

April 28, 2006 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

... a film that gives you something to think about, raising questions that linger long after the theater lights have brightened.

April 28, 2006 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Hard Candy is an exploitation film, with very little happening but a guy getting tortured for about 75 minutes of screen time.

April 28, 2006 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

... icky, incoherent thriller ...

April 28, 2006
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

One of the more original and grueling films to come out in years and I loved it...

March 30, 2010 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

Slick slime wrapped as a high-toned, girl-power shocker

August 30, 2009 Full Review Source: CinePassion | Comment (1)

Wilson and Page are compelling and Slade demonstrates a slick stylistic flair, but the over over-the-top shock pandering renders the dark lesson convoluted and hard to swallow.

April 23, 2009 Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix
Boston Phoenix

British director David Slade announces himself as a master of economy and discrimination by leaving the horror to the audience's imagination. This movie will make you squirm like you've never squirmed before.

April 15, 2009 Full Review Source:

Slade and his actors keep the tension high, and the questions don't come to mind until after the credits roll.

August 7, 2008 Full Review Source: Sacramento News & Review
Sacramento News & Review

... [I]t's Page who really carries the picture, delivering screenwriter Brian Nelson's clever dialogue so convincingly, we actually become scared for the child predator that she's tormenting.

June 18, 2008 Full Review Source: ESplatter

a great suspence thriller in the likes of misery

January 7, 2008 | Comment (1)

It's the kind of indie film that makes its mark by a controversial theme, an infamous scene, and dines out on its film-festival buzz.

October 20, 2007 Full Review Source:

Thoroughly confounding the 'normal' relationship between abuser and victim, first-time director Slade presents a complex morality tale under the guise of an exploitation thriller.

June 15, 2007 Full Review Source: Film4

The film's strength is in the way it continually sustains suspense, particularly in the use of sound effects. Very little is shown, but much is heard.

April 8, 2007 Full Review Source: Cinematical

Unreels with smooth pace and unexpected grace notes, both visually and by its two leads.

February 6, 2007 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

A psychological thriller in which the mouse hunts the cat.

January 17, 2007 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

A cracking little thriller which makes you think even as it's keeping you on the edge of your seat. It's not always easy viewing, but Hard Candy is an intelligent, challenging film which deserves to be seen.

December 30, 2006 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Strong one-on-one acting elevates this table-turning horror show.

November 8, 2006 Full Review Source: Window to the Movies
Window to the Movies

You can sense that it wants to be talked about more than it wants to actually say anything

October 17, 2006 Full Review Source: Film Freak Central | Comments (8)
Film Freak Central

Hard-hitting independent thriller about child molestation and vigilante justice.

October 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Reno Gazette-Journal

This swamp gets very murky indeed. Bring your moral compass.

July 14, 2006 Full Review Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Sydney Morning Herald

While I couldn't recommend Hard Candy [rated R] for its easy entertainment value, it is worth seeing for how a relative newcomer like David Slade handles a high tension two hander.

July 8, 2006 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

A film that will have you both squirming in your seat and teetering on the edge of it.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: BBC

Audience Reviews for Hard Candy

In every Ellen Page film I have seen, her character is an infuriatingly smug, precocious, androgynous pain in the arse, and 'Hard Candy' is no different. In fact, it's worse, her painfully irritating screen presence is accentuated by her total dominance in the film, she's even more unbearable than she was in the ironically titled 'Super'. When I realised her performance was going in this familiar loathsome direction, I almost stopped watching it, but I found the strength to continue.

It started strongly, the first 20 minutes of 'Hard Candy' are genuinely creepy and unsettling, mostly because of the ambiguity of the situation. It's also here that Ellen Page is actually very good, she's natural and only adds to the tension, she can give likeable performances after all. However, it swiftly descends into a stressful, frustrating ordeal of a film. My main problem with it was that throughout Hayley's antagonisation of Jeff, he isn't a confirmed paedophile or threat. Jeff is actually a character one can empathise with. He's clearly morally dubious, he has crossed the line in his contact with Hayley, but he seems to realise this - 'Look. I've been lonely, okay? And that makes me stupid, but I am not a paedophile.'
Is Jeff saying that as a way out? What were his intentions before things turned against him? I didn't know, but his innocence seemed credible, which made the majority of the film seem to be unjustified, sadistic torture committed by an irrational, evil and maddeningly arrogant psychopath.

Another of the film's problems is straightforward implausibility. 5ft 1 Ellen Page, who looks like she must weigh under 100lbs, somehow gets Patrick Wilson in all sorts of predicaments which are simply impossible. They can just about convince us of her dexterity with rope, but not that she can support Wilson's bodyweight to such a laughable extent. 'Hard Candy' is another film spoilt by how irritating Ellen Page is, but it also has several narrative issues which bang the final nail in the coffin.
December 3, 2012
Jack Hawkins
Jack Hawkins

Super Reviewer

For a debut film, its one of best I've seen. Director David Slade shows off his skills with one of the most unusual films of 2005. There are challenging scenes and begs the audience to question whether Ellen Page's actions are justified. A great film that pits two great actors against each other in an odd story of Cat versus Mouse.
September 21, 2012
paul o.
paul oh

Super Reviewer


This is without a doubt one of the most disturbing films I have ever seen. The mirror image of main character Hayley is Ellen Page who is perfectly cast for the brilliantly insane but incredibly intelligent protaganist and performs outstandingly with emotional depth and charisma in a way that's very much more memorable than any actress i've seen in a while. Trust me when I stress that this film will be hard for many to digest because it's brutal, gritty, tremendously intense and with great ambition; intellectually open minded, so I wouldn't suggest you see it unless your like me and enjoy this sort of movie. The result of the intriguing and daring premise is the truthfully art house film; Hard Candy. An absolutely perfect psychological thriller that's directed carefully, creatively and is determined to keep you as uncomfortable as possible throughout it's viewing and even more so when you've finished watching it.
July 3, 2012
Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

    1. Hayley Stark: Playtime's over. Now, it's time to wake up.
    – Submitted by Jonah R (16 months ago)
    1. Hayley Stark: Sorry, I couldn't hear you. Maybe it was the music, or I dunno, maybe it was the bullshit.
    – Submitted by Jonah R (16 months ago)
    1. Hayley Stark: There's that whole nature versus nurture question, isn't it? Was I born a cute, vindictive, little bitch or... did society make me that way?
    – Submitted by Meg B (17 months ago)
    1. Hayley Stark: I'll take care of everything...or not.
    – Submitted by Nana-Marla E (17 months ago)
    1. Hayley Stark: I shouldn't have made you think there was a way out of this.
    – Submitted by Nikoleta P (20 months ago)
    1. Hayley Stark: Nothing's yours when you invite a teenager into your home.
    – Submitted by Nikoleta P (20 months ago)
View all quotes (13)

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