It's difficult to review Hard Candy because it is one of those high-tension movies that audiences enjoy most when they don't know what's will happen next. The trailers show footage from only the first 15-20 minutes and, because I didn't know anything beyond the trailer, I was completely surprised by the central set piece. I would never have guessed that this film might include ... that. My goodness. It reminded me of a very funny story about a night out in college with a friend who studied ... well, I can't tell you without spoiling the film. I'll just say that I was aware that writer Brian Nelson must have done his research in regards to the central set piece.
I can tell you that in the opening scene, two people chatting online decide to meet at a coffeeshop. Their conversation indicates that this is a far cry from You've Got Mail. At the coffeeshop, it turns out that Hayley (Ellen Page) is only 14 years old, while Jeff (Patrick Wilson) is a successful photographer in his early thirties. Jeff is flirting with danger in many ways, but seems not to realize it. Hayley, meanwhile, seems too young and dumb to recognize her own danger, and invites herself to Jeff's house. He realizes she's only 14 years old, but he takes her home. Whatever may happen next, you know it's going to be trouble. Pay close attention to what you see and hear in the coffeeshop—the filmmakers drop a few subtle clues for suspense and foreshadowing.