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[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/hard-candy.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:350: Is she trapped... or is she bait?]]
->''Strangers shouldn't talk to little girls.''

A 2005 psychological thriller/ExploitationFilm featuring Patrick Wilson and Creator/EllenPage as a 32-year old photographer named Jeff Kohlver and the precocious 14-year-old Hayley Stark. They meet at a cafe after chatting online, and agree to go to Jeff's secluded house to have a little fun, where Hayley mixes the drinks and strips for a photo session. It seems that Jeff has the advantage, when he passes out and comes to, he is tied to a chair and being investigated by a not-so-innocent teenage girl. What follows is a series of arguments, cat-and-mouse games and psychological torture sessions, culminating in a tense rooftop encounter.

The film is interesting, due to its controversial nature and [[GreyAndGrayMorality unsympathetic and hard-to-categorize lead characters]].

Not to be confused with the Music/CountingCrows album, the title track of that album, or even the other album of the same name by Music/{{Madonna}}. Or actual hard candy.
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!!This film provides examples of:
* TheAce: What Hayley appears to be on the surface - she is highly intelligent, reading books way outside of her maturity level, cute, witty, and seemingly comes from a great family.
* AloneWithThePsycho: Played with as the roles of "psycho" and "victim" switch several times between Hayley and Jeff from the second act onwards.
* AssholeVictim: If a child killed a child molester, would anyone think less of her for it?
* AxCrazy: [[spoiler: Jeff himself in the final act, as he flips out and starts threatening Hayley with a knife after repeatedly stabbing a photograph of a girl.]]
* {{Bifauxnen}}: Hayley looks more like a cute little boy than a FilleFatale. This makes sense, considering the [[EllenPage actress]].
* BillingDisplacement: See that cool, stylized poster up there? It's been replaced by [[FloatingHeadSyndrome bland face shots]] of Hayley and Jeff now that Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson are stars.
* BlackAndGrayMorality: [[spoiler:Ultimately, it's about a murderous paedophile being punished by a teenage girl who's clearly a sociopath.]]
* ChekhovsGun: [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Played straight]] with the gun that Hayley finds while searching for Jeff's PornStash. Also, the "Missing: Donna Mauer" poster at Nighthawks.
* CoversAlwaysLie: Ellen Page only wears that red hoodie in the final scene.
* DateMyAvatar: Goes both ways. We have this charming guy and this sweet young girl, and they have so much in common. But they are both faking it. They are really predators, trying to lure each other into a trap.
* DeadlyBath: Defied, in its 'girl goes to take a shower with the psycho in the house' variation. When the man holding the knife bursts into the bathroom and pulls back the shower curtain, [[spoiler:he finds it empty. Then the girl leaps out from behind him holding a stungun.]]
* DigitalPiracyIsEvil: When Jeff and Hayley first meet and he offers to send her bootleg [=MP3s=]:
-->'''Hayley:''' You have the concert?!\\
'''Jeff:''' Just one song. And a little louder, please, so the authorities know!
* DirtyOldMan: Jeff has the typical perverted personality, but he is legitimately charming and physically attractive and only about thirty.([[spoiler:This acts as a deconstruction, actively undoing the idea that child molesters are creepy, obvious criminals, and uses his good looks up until the end to remind the audience that perpetrators of sexual abuse usually get away with it because they are not noticeable. The film toys with this making you empathize with him up until the truth comes out and you realize what a sick monster he is, and learn that all his early pleasantness was a trap to keep his lifestyle going.]])
* DoubleStandardAbuseFemaleOnMale: Played straight as Hayley, a fourteen year old girl, is torturing Jeff as punishment for supposedly being a 32-year-old male predator ([[spoiler:Jeff IS a predator, but the audience is led to believe he is not until the big reveal, so viewers will abide by this trope until the truth comes out]]), then {{deconstructed|Trope}} as Hayley crosses the MoralEventHorizon, and then {{reconstructed|Trope}} as Jeff's deeds get increasingly violent as well as Hayley uncovering more evidence that Jeff is a predator.
* DrivenToSuicide: [[spoiler: Mixed with assisted suicide, with weird MercyKill overtones.]] Yeah, it's that kind of thing.
* TheEndingChangesEverything: The events we saw more or less happened as we saw them, but it's strongly implied that much of the backstory we've been given has been falsified.
* EvilPlan: Unusual in that there are two; Jeff and Hayley want to prey on each other but in different manners.
* EvilVersusEvil: We have a psycho predator and a equally psycho child duking it out.
* ExploitationFilm: Accused of being an exploitation film, exploiting the PaedoHunt Hysteria.
* FilmNoir: It could be seen as a twisted neo-Noir, with its dark, bleak subject matter, its claustrophobic setting, and its grim protagonists. Hayley could be viewed as the AntiHero, the FemmeFatale and the PrivateDetective all in one, and Jeff could be seen as an AntiHero who is destroyed by becoming entangled with the FemmeFatale.
* {{Foreshadowing}}:
** [[spoiler: "She slept with all the wrong people and ended up killing herself."]]
** And not long after that, [[spoiler:"Four out of five doctors agree that I am actually insane."]]
** [[spoiler: There is a clear shot of a missing person notice about Donna Mauer on the wall at the cafe.]]
* GenreSavvy: While it's not explicit, both seem to know enough about psychological thriller tropes to avoid them. Hayley easily brushes off a HannibalLecture, has comebacks for Jeff's other [[BreakingSpeech speeches]], brushes aside his possible FreudianExcuse and anticipates and reverses the CandlelitBath moment as mentioned above.
* GoryDiscretionShot: We are never shown anything during the castration scene. [[spoiler:There was no castration, she was bluffing.]]
* GroinAttack: Easily one of the most horrible groin assaults in cinema. [[spoiler:It also didn't happen.]]
* HannibalLecture: Is just one of the many {{Breaking Speech}}es thrown back and forth.
* HoistByHisOwnPetard or KarmicDeath, from a certain point of view.
* HollywoodHacking: Jeff burned his illicit photos on to [=CDs=] and placed them in a safe. In reality, encrypting the files and leaving them on the computer is significantly more secure.
* ILied: ''"...Or not."''
* IAmNotLeftHanded: [[spoiler: At the final climax of the film, Hayley reveals that she's been toying with Jeff from the very beginning and has known exactly what he is and what he's done from before he even talked to her]]
* IconicOutfit: Hayley's [[LittleRedFightingHood red hoodie]], even though she spends most of the film in her black tank top.
* InsufferableGenius: Hayley is an honor student and you'd better remember it.
* JitterCam: In one of the most violent uses ever in film, and this was before Cloverfield.
* KarmaHoudini: [[spoiler: Obviously Hayley herself at the end.]]
* LittleDeadRidingHood: Hayley's iconic garment is a red hoodie that matches the Little Red Riding Hood vibe of the first part of the movie. This symbolism is the result of a lucky coincidence, however, as the hoodie was actually orange and only turned red in color correction. The film makers swear up and down [[FauxSymbolism this was not meant to be symbolic]].
* LittleRedFightingHood: It's wolf vs. wolf really but one of them wears red.
* LittleMissBadass: Hayley Stark is a particularly frightening example. She could also be categorized as a BadAss FilleFatale, a SociopathicHero, an AxCrazy PsychoForHire, TheHunter, a DarkActionGirl, a KnightTemplar, or even a MagnificentBastard. [[spoiler: At one point, Hayley takes down a gun-toting Jeff with a roll of cellophane. Cellophane, people!]] Ellen Page is ''terrifying.''
* MindRape: This is Hayley's main tactic, using subversive psychological warfare to break her targets and drive them to suicide.
* MinimalistCast: Aside from the brief appearance of Jeff's ex-girlfriend Janelle, and a few cameos in the beginning, the only characters with any real screentime are Haley, Jeff, and Jeff's neighbour.
* NighthawksShot: The Nighthawks and a T-Shirt. An homage to the painting.
* NosyNeighbor: Judy Takuda, Sandra Oh's character, is the only character other than Jeff and Hayley to have any impact - she pops in at one point to ask about Jeff, nearly driving Hayley's carefully calculated plan off the rails.
* NotSoDifferent: Both main characters are vile, violent people.
* ThePasswordIsAlwaysSwordfish: The combination to Jeff's safe consists of a significant date that is also part of his IM nickname and the date of his most (emotionally) important photo shoot, written on the back of his prints of said shoot. Downplayed in that the full date/combination isn't written down so Hayley has to do some educated guesswork and trial and error to discover it.
* PayEvilUntoEvil: What does a child do when she finds a predator and has the means to punish him? Castration of course! [[spoiler: It doesn't happen but she still does horrible things to him.]]
* PedoHunt: This Red Riding Hood is hunting for wolves instead of going to grandma's house.
* PornStash: Haley finds one and a shotgun in the process.
* RippedFromTheHeadlines: It's been said the story was inspired by gangs of young Japanese girls that have cropped up in recent years. They lure in [[{{Lolicon}} certain kinds of men]] by playing the part of "innocent-yet-naughty" schoolgirls, and once they have him alone, they beat, rob, and blackmail him.
* SceneryPorn: The director had previously done music videos. The production looks absolutely sumptuous, even though the production was made on a shoestring- exactly the state of most music videos.
* SerialKiller:
** [[spoiler: By the end of the film, Hayley has a body count of at least two men. It's strongly implied that these are not her first.]]
** [[spoiler: Jeff and his friend are heavily implied to have raped and killed the underage girl Hayley mentions. Implied being used loosely, because while Jeff denies it at first, he eventually says that it was all his friend's idea, to which Hayley replies that was the same defense the other man used after she confronted him.]]
* ToThePain: Hayley clearly just wants to torture him as much as she possibly can [[spoiler:and ''then'' kill him]].
* VigilanteMan: Hayley hunts pedo. [[spoiler: That's her justification for picking the victims she does]].
* VillainProtagonist: Both Jeff and Hayley are vicious people and share the story.
* WhamLine: [[spoiler:"Aaron told me you did it before he killed himself."]]
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