Hard Candy is a difficult film to watch and is even more difficult to enjoy. It's the kind of film nobody owns in their Blu-ray collection because nobody wants to watch it more than once. Its cringe factor is through the roof because of its highly controversial and delicate subject matter. I think this film is the closest Americans will ever get to doing their own Audition. Hard Candy is in the same vein of torture-drama, a film that exists to physically upset the viewer. If you watch it knowing that you are going to feel unsettled, it's a well-made film that feels like you're watching two sociopaths in a battle of wills. Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson knock it out of the park with their equally sadistic and monstrous characters, helping craft an atmosphere of quiet rage.
Any film revolving around pedophilia and child molestation is going to be painful to watch. That's a given. Hard Candy deals with the aftermath of such a tragedy and what would happen if the molester got theirs. The most bizarre thing about the film is how it constantly makes you switch your allegiances. There are times when you think what Hayley (Page) is doing is justified, but there are also times when you start to feel sorry for Jeff (Wilson), the pedophile turned victim. For example, every man in the world wanted to untie Jeff during the highly intensive surgery scene. Filmmaking like that is smart. It constantly keeps you focused on character development, among other things.
I doubt I would ever watch Hard Candy again, but not because it is a bad film. I put in the same category as Rob Zombie's The Devil's Rejects, in that it was a well-constructed psychological torture experiment that only needs to be watched once. It boasts a smart, non-gratuitous script that has something to say and is aided by a talented cast with even more to say. I think most people owe it to themselves to watch this movie at least once, if only to shine a light on one of the most horrific crimes a person can commit.