Metascore
58

Mixed or average reviews - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 30
  2. Negative: 6 out of 30
  1. 100
    A tough sit, but it attracts more than repels you. It commands your attention. Once it lands its hooks in you, there's no tearing away.
  2. To pull this kind of thing off you need exceptional performances, and the two leads rise commandingly to the challenge. Wilson, best known for his work in the screen version of "The Phantom of the Opera" and HBO's "Angels in America," keeps his true colors effectively muted throughout the bulk of their face-off, but it is Page who astonishes.
  3. Reviewed by: Rob Nelson
    90
    A film that forges identification with its victimized heroine like none I've seen in decades. (The Nova Scotia–born Page, a Molly Ringwald type who was only 15 when the movie was made, leaves little doubt as to whether a kid can play a grown-up's icky game and win.)
  4. 88
    Hard Candy is impressive and effective. As for what else it may be, each audience member will have to decide.
  5. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    88
    Hard Candy, a highly original psychological thriller/revenge fantasy, can be bitterly hard to take and uncomfortably intense, but it's well worth consuming.
  6. 88
    These are two fascinating characters, and watching them thrust and parry proves to be as impossible to turn away from as observing a grotesque roadside accident.
  7. The film was reputedly inspired by Japanese teens who trolled chat rooms to find predators, made assignments, then ganged up to beat offending adults.
  8. Hard Candy is extreme - a battle of the sexes that glides from tricky to angry to shockingly ugly.
  9. Despite the hot-button pedophilic story hook (I'm surprised Jeff and Hayley didn't meet on MySpace.com), Hard Candy ultimately beats with the heart of a stagier, more complicated psychological revenge picture along the lines of Roman Polanski's "Death and the Maiden."
  10. 80
    It's not always easy viewing, but Hard Candy is an intelligent, challenging film which deserves to be seen.
  11. 75
    The most extreme English-language studio release I've seen in years.
  12. A psychosexual thriller that treads a thin line between art and exploitation. The mere fact that it manages this queasy high-wire act is what sets debut director David Slade's slick mind game apart from the drooling pack.
  13. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    75
    The prize for most sick-making movie I've ever seen goes to . . . that Driver's Ed film I saw when I was 16. The psychological thriller Hard Candy is right up there, though. I didn't know whether to applaud or barf.
  14. 75
    Inspired by accounts of underage vigilante girls in Japan turning the tables on Internet predators, playwright Brian Nelson's schematic tale of the hunter captured by the game, a queasy blend of exploitation-movie nastiness and blunt moral lesson.
  15. Hard Candy not only trips along a tightrope line between exploitation and art; in some ways, that line is its subject.
  16. Reviewed by: Winda Benedetti
    75
    Hard Candy is not perfect, but it is a provocative piece of filmmaking with a dark and daring heart that makes it worth seeing.
  17. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    70
    A spectacular performance by teenage thesp Ellen Page elevates this disturbing slice of designer shocksploitation into a film that's impossible to dismiss on principle.
  18. To give the film its due, the direction is expert, the writing is shrewd, the cinematography is stylish, and the performances are extraordinary... Hard Candy is also sadistic in its own right, relentlessly ugly, entirely heartless and eventually unendurable. It's torture.
  19. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    63
    Hard Candy is the rare movie that may be worthiest for the arguments you'll have after it's over.
  20. 60
    The more things drag on, the more monotonous they become and, by the end, Hard Candy has devolved into a rather transparent game of one-upmanship in which Hayley and Jeff come across in almost equally repellent measure, their behaviors driven less by organic impulses than by their need to satisfy the script's elaborate series of reversals and counter-reversals.
  21. 58
    Had they ended 20 minutes in, "Wedding Crashers" would qualify as a gut-busting triumph, and Hard Candy would be a miniature masterpiece.
  22. 50
    It takes creepy, spooky, and altogether ooky to a hideous new level.
  23. Reviewed by: Gene Seymour
    50
    As gripping as Hard Candy is, one can't quite shake the feeling that we're the ones being exploited by its mordant blend of kinky revenge fantasy and push-me-pull-you moral vision.
  24. 40
    Maddeningly exploitative, the film takes a provocative subject -- pedophilia -- and wraps it in a sterile, vacuum-sealed package, devoid of meaning.
  25. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    38
    High-minded sleaze, the film deceives you with its first 10 minutes, which are interestingly creepy.
  26. Icky, incoherent thriller.
  27. During the ensuing narrative unpleasantness and visual incoherence (meaningless choker close-ups, pointless slow motion), Hayley subjects Jeff to a range of torture, all in the name of, well, what? Despite the two fine performances, it's hard to say.
  28. Though Hard Candy clearly believes pedophiles should be chopped into little pieces and buried in an unmarked grave, its only purpose is exploitative. Sure, it's a cautionary tale for all those sicko wolves out there, but it's nothing more than an unabashed lurk-and-dread fest.
  29. With Hard Candy, the innocent are tortured along with the guilty -- the innocent, in this case, being the audience.
  30. Tautly directed by David Slade, this drama probably offers more sadism than anyone could possibly want...The characters are absurd, but if you're up for this sort of thing, then surely you can con yourself into accepting them. Personally, I'd rather have this movie obliterated from my memory.
User Score
8.3

Universal acclaim- based on 246 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 49 out of 64
  2. Negative: 12 out of 64
  1. Aug 6, 2013
    6
    I can't say that Hard Candy is a great movie but i can't either say that it is a disaster. First of all it has great actors and an excellent cinematography. At the beginning it is a really lame and slow movie and it gets to the last minutes. It is really disturbing all these tortures and I can say that really annoyed me in a good way as i really like movies like Saw. I had great expectations for Hard Candy and I think they were a little bit high. You will only like it if you like sadistic movies like Saw otherwise you will waste your time and you will might feel really seek after watching that film. I give it 6/10 because it starts really bad and it is quite boring. After half an hour it gets more interesting. If only the first scenes were better.... Full Review »
  2. Sep 3, 2011
    7
    The tense atmosphere created by the David Slade is sensational, fully appropriate to the situation. The script outputs can find some questionable time to time, but the film is directed behind to perfectness. The performances need no comment. Page and Wilson support the film with great skill, the progression of the tension is admirable, the expressions full of nuances and subjectivity. Movies that are supported primarily through dialogue efficiently are difficult to make. It all depends on how elaborate and interesting are the characters, their goals and their stories. â Full Review »
  3. Sep 20, 2010
    10
    A very disturbing, but great movie. When I first saw that Ellen Page was the lead I watched it. I soon found out that young people are not always innocent. The last line of the movie when she says "Or Not" really shows that if you are convincing you can get anyone to believe you. A shocking thrill ride that will make you cringe, cry and maybe even smile a little Full Review »