[Warning: spoilers after this point]
I just love the character of Hayley - a character who is nearly impossible to pull off, but Ellen Page does it. Somehow she convinces us that Hayley is both an evil mastermind and a fourteen-year-old girl. Although we are constantly impressed by her ingenuity in - er - everything, we don't doubt that she's really fourteen. At the very end of the movie, when we realize we know absolutely nothing about her, we actually do know that she is just a teenager. And that's awesome, because frankly movies - especially thriller-ish movies - really need more young women who aren't complete idiots. I don't know if Hayley is really an ideal role model for fourteen-year-old girls ... or maybe she is. She is, arguably, evil. Maybe? Maybe not. But she is definitely powerful.
I just loved the fact that we knew nothing about Hayley at the end. I was frustrated by it, of course; I wanted the movie to continue and find out where she was going after this, whether she would strike again or simply return to a normal life somewhere, if she would become a doctor or maybe a forensic psychologist - who then tracked down and attacked criminals - but then again ... I didn't want to know. Nothing that the movie could offer us as to Hayley's true identity could be as cool as what we can imagine. I don't think she was a figment of Jeff's imagination (that was an M. Night Shyalamamadingdong twist that I considered for maybe twenty seconds) because she exists even after he's dead. Also, because that would be lame.
No, I think the movie is perfect the way it is, leaving us in complete mystery as to Hayley's identity and even her motives. Did she know the girl that Jeff killed? Perhaps. Perhaps not. I suspected so throughout the movie, which gave it an interesting edge; I'd be pretty much willing to do everything that Hayley did to someone that I knew killed my best friend, although I doubt I would be brave or smart enough to pull it off. I'm really not sure whether the movie is more compelling if you think that Hayley did know Donna or if you think that she didn't. Her motives are certainly more obscure if you think that she didn't.
Then there is the question of whether Hayley herself was the victim of a pedophile earlier in her life. Like the question of whether or not she knew Donna, the answer is important, but the fact that it is not given only enriches the movie - just like the fact that hardly any gore is shown only makes the horror-ish parts of the movie more horrifying. I say "horror-ish" because, of course, there is no real gore. It's only important that you think that something horrifying is happening, which is really true of all horror movies. Jeff is like anyone watching a horror movie, believing - at least on some level - that it is real, even though it's not. We, as the audience watching "Hard Candy," are caught in a double illusion. We think we are watching actors simulate real horror, only to realize that we were watching actors simulate simulating real horror. That's cool.
Yeah, and if you can tell, I've spent all my articulate wordy-words on my schoolwork this week, so "That's cool" is pretty much all I can say about that. It was cool. The movie was cool. You should watch it, and tell me whether you think it's cool too. Of course, if you've read everything I've had to say about it, I hope you've already seen it, because otherwise you are now spoiled. That's okay, though. I read the whole synopsis on Wikipedia before I watched "Hard Candy," and I still loved it. Then again, I'm not someone who's spoiled by spoilers. Finding out what happens in a movie often makes me want to see it more. That's just me, though.
Well, that's all. I'm off to simulate someone who has a work ethic.