Claustrophobic and brightly coloured, this tightly wound psychological thriller is constantly pulling the rug out from under the viewer, mostly due to the tense, explosive performances of its two main characters. The tale opens with a coffee shop rendezvous between 14-year-old Haley (the fantastic Ellen Page) and 32-year-old fashion photographer Jeff (Patrick Wilson), who have previously met only online in a chat room.
Despite his questionable enthusiasm at meeting a girl half his age, Jeff comes off as slightly awkward and shy; rather, it’s Haley who is unnervingly forthright in her flirtation. She suggests that they go back to his place, he complies, and, once there, Haley seductively convinces him to take pictures of her. She exhibits a beguiling mixture of innocence and precocious sexuality, but before anything happens between them, Jeff passes out under the influence of the drugs she’s slipped him. When he wakes up, Haley drops her innocent demeanor and begins to undertake a meticulously planned game of retribution against her captive pedophile. She hacks into his computer and ransacks his house while he watches helplessly, and she ultimately raises the ante with a surgical procedure sure to make audiences squirm.
The exact nature of Jeff’s guilt remains nebulous, however, creating an intriguing uncertainty surrounding Haley’s own mental state, and just how psychotic she might be. Expectations are continuously thwarted as the two characters–neither of whom is terribly sympathetic–enact a psychological and physical game of cat and mouse that is as fascinating to watch as a train wreck.