By Eric Campos | April 12, 2006

Online dating is bad, mmmkay?

Hooking it up on the Internet isn’t a subject that’s foreign to indie film. I’ve seen several of these films, each at varying degrees of success in engulfing the viewer in this new cyberworld of love, but I’ve never seen one so honest and raw and, yes, absolutely terrifying as this. After watching “Hard Candy”, you’ll more than likely sprint to your computer, delete all of your profiles on Matchmaker.com, LonelyHearts.com and AssSearch.com and learn to appreciate the virtues of masturbation.

“Hard Candy” opens with the innocent meeting of two online daters. Hayley is a shy teenage girl and Geoff is a suave, handsome guy in his early thirties. This public meeting seems to be going well and Geoff appears to be a nice enough guy that Hayley decides to accompany him back to his house. The two have drinks, but, using her best judgment, Hayley does not drink anything that she hasn’t mixed herself. Geoff completely understands and to show a little faith in her, he agrees to drink one of her concoctions.

“Hard Candy” is an excellent title for this film, but “Bad Move” would’ve been just as suitable.

Geoff passes out and awakens to find himself tied down and at the mercy of this fairly angry young girl who has a razor sharp grudge against Geoff and she has no reservations in letting him know all about it. So begins the feature length physical and mental torture as we’re slowly dipped into Geoff’s past, leading us to figure out just what exactly this axe is that Hayley has to grind.

“Hard Candy” is a tough sit, but it attracts more than repels you. It commands your attention. Once it lands its hooks in you, there’s no tearing away. Being a part of the Sundance 2005 film festival, this is so far the only film I’ve seen that’s had the entire theater firmly in its grip with many an audience member leaning forward in their seat anticipating, but dreading the next awful deed.

Yeah, this candy is hard to handle, but at the same time it’s oh so sweet.

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