Written and Directed by Craig Zobel.
Starring Ann Dowd, Dreama Walker, Pay Healy, Philip Ettinger, Bill Camp, James McCaffrey and Ashlie Atkinson.
When a prank caller convinces a fast food restaurant manager to interrogate an innocent young employee, no one is left unharmed.
First off, it has to be said that anyone looking for a nice, relaxing film should look elsewhere as relaxing this is not. More tense then most thrillers and by far more disturbing than most horrors, Compliance is a film that will stick in your mind and make you question your own subservience to authority figures.
The film begins with Sandra, a fast food manager, receiving a call from a police officer stating that one of the restaurants employees has stolen from a customer. Sandra then questions the employee Becky and begins to follow every instruction the officer gives, leading to events that leave no character unaffected.
If there is just one thing that can be said about Compliance, it’s that the oppressive tone and excellently-judged atmosphere make it one of the most disconcerting films I’ve ever seen.
This is primarily thanks to a superb yet understated soundtrack that effortlessly helps the film to achieve its unnerving tone, with a subtlety lacking in many bigger pictures. The score is managed with a deft touch as it jumps from sinister clinking and fast food machinery noise to absolute silence – helping to result in suspense that most thrillers can only dream of.
Further praise should most definitely be given to the stellar cast as every single actor is more than excellent in their roles. Whether watching Becky’s quite obvious dismay as events unfold, or Sandra as she tries her best to deal with the situation, everyone plays their part subtly and convincingly.
As good as all of our actors are though, a lot of credit must be given to writer-director Craig Zobel for his script. The dialogue in Compliance somehow achieves the feat of sounding incredibly natural and realistic – helping to make everyone seem like they’re not actors anymore, just people dealing with a horrible situation.
However, all of this is nothing compared to thoughts you will have as you watch this film. The primary thought being, ‘This is ridiculous, there’s no way this could happen, people would say something wouldn’t they?’. Unfortunately, this film is based on a true story with very little detail exaggerated or invented. How is that possible, you ask?
At the beginning of the film, there is a reference to the now-famous psychological experiment known as The Milgram Experiment. This experiment was set up to investigate the powers of control and obedience to authority. This experiment showed that if there’s an authority figure who takes the blame, people will do what they’re asked with very few exceptions. Once you know that, you can see how far people can go after just a little push.
Overall, this film is brilliantly compelling and solidly uncomfortable viewing and should be watched by anyone with an interest in the human mind.
The strap line is ‘How could it have gone this far?’ and that is exactly what you will be asking yourself for a long, long time afterwards.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Ozzy Armstrong is a Stargate and Rocky superfan. Follow him on Twitter.