• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

Hard Candy

TITLE: Hard Candy

YEAR: 2005

GENRE: Horror and Drama

 A good horror film is designed to scare the viewer and in a sense to make that viewer uncomfortable with what is being displayed on the screen. Most directors who make horror films will usually go with the gross-out factor and cover their production with as many blood and guts as possible, yet periodically more mature directors will provide their thankful viewers with a finished product with quality suspense and atmosphere. It is even rarer when a director will combine suspense, atmosphere, and some type of controversial subject to make their film memorable to the viewer. Hard Candy is one of those psychological suspense drama that grabs the watcher by the throat and odes not release until its interesting climax.

Jeff Kohlver (Patrick Wilson) is a 32-year-old photographer who happens to like his women young, very young. Kohlver befriends a 14-year-old named Hayley Stark (Ellen Page) on the internet and proposes to meet her at a local coffee shop. Much to his surprise she accepts, actually shows up at the java house, and proposes to go to his house after a few drinks. Kohlver and Stark go back to his house where Stark innocently flirts with the much older man, and Kohlver believes that he has hit the perverted jackpot. Stark mixes each of them a drink, and after consuming the alcoholic beverage Kohlver passes out. Upon waking up, he discovers that he is tied to a chair with a much different Stark who accuses him of pedophilia and being responsible for a friend’s disappearance. Kohlver adamantly denies the accusations, but Kohlver discovers that she more sinister ulterior motives as well.

 This is a simply filmed production where almost all of Hard Candy is Wilson and Page in a room, and the acting in this film is fantastic. Both Wilson and Page give a cool and controlled presentation that makes Hard Candy feel about as real as a film such as this could; either one could have very easily lowered the impact of the project with a more over the top presentation but fortunately both thespians reel back their presentation to give this film a real feel. The scene where Page smiles before showing a video and stating that “I learned about this surgery on the internet” is truly shocking and chilling. The subject matter of pedophilia is handled in an uncomfortable manner that will make many viewers feel dirty and at times disgusted, but this is probably how a taboo subject such as this should impact the fans. The script and subsequent storyline feels as if this could happen in normal life, which makes Hard Candy even more disturbing. Director David Slade (whose career took a creative nosedive after leading 30 Days Of Night and The Twilight Saga: Eclipse) does a wonderful job in controlling the pace of this film, keeping the thespians on focus, and keeping the viewer on the edge of their proverbial seats. The only real criticism I have is the DVD cover art, which should have used the brilliant artwork from the one-sheet poster instead of pictures of the stars.

Page had performed in a few independent films and television shows in the past, but Hard Candy is the film that expanded her career to bring her the position as Juno MacGuff which so far is her defining role. It is difficult for many people to watch a film that has such seedy subject matter and portraying a teenager in such a disturbed light, and the only reason this film is not receiving five stars is because some people probably should not see Hard Candy. Despite this, I highly recommend Hard Candy to those more adventurous film fans and those who remember fondly some of those intense dramas that peppered the grindhouse film era. Hard Candy is one of the very best independent films of the past fifteen or so years.

* * * * 1/2

–Mark

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