Hard Candy

Director: David Slade
Screenwriters: Brian Nelson

Institute History

  • 2005 Sundance Film Festival


Hayley is a smart, charming teenage girl—but even smart girls make mistakes. She's hooking up in a coffee shop with this guy, Geoff, she met on the Internet. And even though he is a cute, smooth professional in his early thirties, and a high-end fashion photographer, Hayley still shouldn't be heading back to his house. In a game of cat and mouse, it's best for the mouse to avoid the cat's lair. But who is chasing whom? What unfolds is a spine-chilling exploration of sexual politics, vengeance, and justice.

Despite taking place primarily in one location and with only two actors, Hard Candy avoids any potential limitations due to David Slade's razor-sharp direction. From the first frame, Slade displays complete control of the material, creating tension that goes from flirtatious to dangerous as smoothly as a scalpel through flesh. Slade's attention to atmosphere—including nuances of mise en scène and characters who defy expectation—sets a tone that is sexy and suspenseful. The film boasts truly breakout performances by its two leads (Ellen Page, Patrick Wilson) which are career-making revelations. Hard Candy is a chilling film, completely and intricately crafted, and has a riveting final denouement—a rare achievement from young talent.

— Trevor Groth

Screening Details


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