They met on-line, flickering text made of tiny dots shining on the display. And after a while they figure they might as well meet. Jeff (Patrick Wilson) is an older man, a photographer, and he seems nice enough; Hayley (Ellen Page) is 14, a little naive, but quick and cool and grateful to find someone who'll take her seriously. They meet at a café -- somewhere public, somewhere with other people. He's brought her a gift, and she's touched and a little flirty in her gratitude. After they talk about his photography for a while, they go to his home studio; they'll look at some photos, keep talking. It seems safe to Hayley. It seems like an good idea to Jeff. It isn't.
Directed by video veteran David Slade, Hard Candy may be a high-stakes suspense film with a high-tech story kernel, but it's not actually anything new; what Brian Nelson's script does is create a simple circumstance (young woman goes to the home of a much older man who may not have the best of intentions) and then supplements it with a few twists that slowly, deliberately raise the tension of the piece bit … by bit … by bit, as two characters clash in a conflict that's defined in part by limitations created by the geography of a single setting -- and in part by the limitless possibilities as two people become more and more desperate, with more and more on the line as the clock ticks down.