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The Vault: Hard Candy (2005)

A clever revisionist take on Little Red Riding Hood, director David Slade does not pick sides with the cat and mouse thriller about what happens when an (alleged?) paedophile and teenage girl collide after sharing some heartfelt talks over the web.

Ellen Page is frighteningly good in the role of Hayley Stark, a young girl who is zealously devoted to her convictions. Patrick Wilson manages to both be distressed and disturb the audience as Jeff Kohlver, the thirty-two year old photographer, who invites fourteen year old Hayley into his home. 

This film is cold and, at times, disjointed but to be honest if you feel a connection to either one of these characters you might have a problem. Neither Hayley, nor Jeff are to be liked. While Hayley is easier to understand she seems to revel in her darker tendencies as well. If you have not seen Ellen Page in anything but Juno, Whip It, Smart People or her smaller turn as Kitty Pryde in X-Men: The Last Stand you owe it to yourself to see Page flex her acting muscle as someone wronged looking for vengeance.

Revenge flicks rarely come so sterilized. The violence in the film is reminiscent of Se7en or The Dark Knight in that you only see previous to the cut before it gets bad and the aftermath of what happens. Other films like Death Wish and Straw Dogs come in pools of blood, but with the exception of a hard-to-sit-through-scene Hard Candy keeps it on an even keel and sterilized. However, where Death Wish would commend its vigilante protagonist, Slade takes no sides in this story. Hard Candy doesn't judge the actions of Hayley but suggests that she might be a few screw loose herself to take this kind of action into her own hands.

Hard Candy is sleek, and makes the content (which is sometimes too challenging) easier to take in. For any other film I would be tempted to fast forward through the credits but Hard Candy's trance-like score invites you into the stark contrast between a white online chat background and the avatars flirting over them. Jo Willems, who worked with Slade on 30 Days of Night, takes the tight spacing and two leads and works wonders with what could have looked very dull after a half hour.

This film may not be for everyone, but if you're feeling up to it, it's worth a watch.

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