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Hard Candy - Preview of Sundance shocker

Preview by: Jack Foley

ONE of the most shocking films to emerge from this year's Sundance Film Festival (2005) was Hard Candy, the cat-and-mouse tale of a teenage girl who turns the tables on a man she thinks is an internet paedophile.

Empire magazine included the film in its 'jaw on the floor' round-up of festival films, noting that 'like the ear-slicing scene in Reservoir Dogs, this dark two-hander left even the most hardened viewers shell-shocked'.

It played at Sundance as part of the 'Midnight' section and was immediately snapped up by Lions Gate Film for worldwide distribution (excluding the UK, Spain and Australia).

The film centres around a risky game of cat and mouse between a teenage girl and an older man, where the tables are turned with shocking results.

It stars Patrick Wilson and Ellen Page and is directed by David Slade, from a screenplay by Brian Nelson.

Trevor Groth, writing on the Sundance website, declared that 'the film boasts truly breakout performances by its two leads (Ellen Page, Patrick Wilson) which are career-making revelations."

He concludes: "Hard Candy is a chilling film, completely and intricately crafted, and has a riveting final denouement - a rare achievement from young talent."


Needless to say, Lions Gate president of releasing, Tom Ortenberg, is delighted to have snapped up the film's rights.

He commented: "Anchored by two great performances, Hard Candy captured our attention as a stylish provocative psychological thriller.

"David Slade [director] presents himself as a major new talent with this forceful first feature."

The director, himself, is now emerging as something of a hot property - and he's British.

Commenting on securing a distribution deal, he said after the festival: "I am so proud to be working with Lions Gate on the release of Hard Candy.

"This is a film that came to be because of a wonderful script by Brian Nelson and also the hard work and passion of the cast, crew and all of the film's producers, including Michael Caldwell and Richard Hutton at Vulcan Productions and David Higgins and Hans Ritter."

Slade has enjoyed a successful career in the media and film.

According to Sundance's biography for him, after graduating with a fine arts degree in Sheffield, he began as a journalist before moving into directing.

He now divides his time among film, commercials and videos, working with such artists as Aphex Twin, System of a Down, Muse, and Tori Amos.

His work has been nominated for more than 60 awards in the last few years.

And he now lives in Los Angeles with his girlfriend and small dachshund.

There is no UK release date as yet planned for Hard Candy - although based on word of mouth, expect that to change soon!

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