Is she trapped... or is she bait?
Strangers shouldn't talk to little girls.
A 2005 psychological thriller/Exploitation Film
featuring Patrick Wilson and Ellen Page
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.
Not to be confused with the Counting Crows
album, the title track of that album, or even the other album of the same name by Madonna
. Or actual hard candy.
This film provides examples of:
- I Lied: "...Or not."
- I Am Not Left-Handed: 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
- Iconic Outfit: Hayley's red hoodie, even though she spends most of the film in her black tank top.
- Insufferable Genius: Hayley is an honor student and you'd better remember it.
- Little Dead Riding Hood: 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 this was not meant to be symbolic.
- Little Red Fighting Hood: It's wolf vs. wolf really but one of them wears red.
- Little Miss Badass: At one point, Hayley takes down a gun-toting Jeff with a roll of cellophane. Cellophane, people! Ellen Page is terrifying.
- Mind Rape: This is Hayley's main tactic, using psychological warfare to break her targets and drive them to suicide.
- Minimalist Cast: 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.
- Nighthawks Shot: The Nighthawks and a T-Shirt. An homage to the painting.
- Nosy Neighbor: 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.
- Not So Different: Both main characters are vile, violent people.
- The Password Is Always Swordfish: 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.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: What does a child do when she finds a predator and has the means to punish him? Castration of course! It doesn't happen but she still does horrible things to him.
- Pedo Hunt: This Red Riding Hood is hunting for wolves instead of going to grandma's house.
- Porn Stash: Haley finds one and a shotgun in the process.
- Ripped from the Headlines: It's been said the story was inspired by gangs of young Japanese girls. They lure in 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.
- Scenery Porn: 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.
- Serial Killer:
- 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.
- 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.
- To the Pain: Hayley clearly wants to torture him as much as she possibly can and then kill him.
- Vigilante Man: Hayley hunts pedo. That's her justification for picking the victims she does.
- Villain Has a Point: If you go with the feeling that Hayley is the villain. She states very clearly that the reasoning that "a girl seems/behaves more like a woman she deserves being assaulted" is no excuse for what Jeff did.
- Villain Protagonist: Both Jeff and Hayley are vicious people and share the story.
- Wham Line: "Aaron told me you did it before he killed himself."