YMMV / Hard Candy

  • Acceptable Targets: Some have theorized that Hayley is just a sociopathic sadist who looks for socially acceptable targets, like pedophiles.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Both characters are subject to this, more so Hayley.
    • A lot of people seem to think Hayley was molested or otherwise abused, driving her to seek revenge on men like the one who hurt her, which changes things. Page even mentions on the blu-ray commentary that Hayley being raped by her father was one of the backstories fans brought up for her, but gave no confirmation, and has said in interviews that she believes it's important to keep the audience from getting a clear explanation for her behavior.
    • As mentioned in the Acceptable Targets entry, some people have theorized that Hayley is just a sadistic, budding Serial Killer who fixates on Acceptable Targets so that her "handiwork" can be interpreted as vigilantism.
    • Hayley was just in Jeff's head. The fact that she went to such effort to clean up all evidence that she was ever there, and the importance she placed on him killing himself, could be interpreted as a sign of this. Although it's left ambiguous whether she cleaned up after all especially when she claimed she was lying about that at the end and it doesn't explain how Judy Tokuda could have seen her.
    • Hayley isn't a real girl but an Anthropomorphic Personification of all child sexual abuse victims' desire for revenge. This would explain why her dialogue and demeanor sounds so uncharacteristic of a teenage girl, and gives the line "I am every little girl you ever watched, touched, hurt, screwed, killed" a new resonance.
    • Judy Tokuda's role is subject to this. As she's only in one scene and we never hear from her again, it's not clear how she's going to affect the characters. Some believe she will back Hayley up, as noted in the Fridge Logic page. Others believe she will bust Hayley.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: Elephant Woman by Blonde Redhead.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Word of God remarks that there are people who try to shoehorn Jeff and Hayley into the role of "good guy" and "bad guy", with who's the good guy and who's the bad guy varying from person to person, when in reality there is no good guy in the movie, it's Evil Versus Evil.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: That torture scene.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Hayley Stark can hunt down pedos, make them think they hunted her and then convince them to kill themselves.
  • Misaimed Fandom: Hayley gets a lot of this with regards to her raison d'etre. A lot of people consider her to be a righteous vigilante. However, she has Jeff at her mercy numerous times, and her plan is to torture and manipulate him into killing himself - rather than going to the police with all the evidence she has.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Both characters cross it. Jeff crosses it offscreen, in the backstory, by virtue of being a predatory pedophile and either a murderer or accessory to murder, Hayley during either the castration scene or the ending.
  • Narrowed It Down to the Guy I Recognize: Surprisingly subverted. Sandra Oh, despite appearing in several famous movies and shows (including a starring role in Grey's Anatomy) has been placed in a One-Scene Wonder role as an extra; despite being very suspicious of Hayley, she disappears for the rest of the plot (besides Jeff using her suspicion to try and make Hayley paranoid) acting as a human Red Herring of sorts.
  • Rooting for the Empire: Though both of the protagonists themselves are established as villains, some fans found it easy for root for Hayley herself because of her undeniable charisma, and her desire to give predators and child molesters what they deserve. Others because the Jeff is quite frankly, a child pornographer.