Directed and written by Craig Zobel
Starring Ann Dowd, Dreama Walker,
Pat Healy and Bill Camp
Running Time 90 minutes
Compliance, not your typical Horror film by any means, but scary non the less. Released by Magnolia Pictures this one received a limited release in the states with little fan fare altho it did EXTREMELY well on the festival circuit. Compliance is a film that is based on actual events, now usually when you read this you think sure "loosely" based right?! Ummmm no! Thats what make this one pretty scary in a very dark dramatic way, this all actually happened, the horrors you see are all part of the actual events of this case. You will have moments when watching it that you will once again find yourself saying No Way did it happen like this, people wouldn't be this daft, they wouldn't be this willing to subjugate nor submit to such things but once again I tell you these things ALL really happened. In fact with just the slightest bit of internet savvy you can find the details of the case, the resulting criminal charges, lawsuits, and long term implications the case created for one restaurant in particular. On a personal note I am old enough to easily recall these incidents being reported on, and I am a bit of a news junkie sometimes and even I was caught a little off guard by this one, I had no idea just how far people had taken the scam, so do yourself a favor don't research this one until after you watch it, I think its a bit more powerful of a film that way and definitely creepier.
Becky (Dreama) is having what seems to be a normal day at work, cashiering at a fast food restaurant, that is until her manager Sandra receives a call from "Officer Daniels" (Pat Healy), and suddenly Becky finds herself implicated in an in store theft that has been reported to the local police by the victim/customer making the day anything but routine. Sandra believing she is speaking with an officer who seems to have a ll the right answers, wants to be a good citizen and after all the officer has stated that he takes full responsibility for the situation, so it all must be on the up and up right?! What Sandra doesn't know, but we can see, is that the man on the other end of the phone is not at all who he claims to be, and the horrors he is about to ask her, her staff and others to be a part of (at her naive behest) cant be imagined.
Compliance is a film that is hard to turn away from, its not an action packed thrill ride, but it is a tight, creepy, crazy, weird story that is like a train wreck of humanity. As I stated this is not the normal type of horror film, its more of a mix of drama and psychological thriller, but its is scary in its own way just the same, because it set in a place we can all relate to, and its true, people really did take things to this extreme, and just as scary the victim self victimized, its absolutely crazy! What is even more nerve wracking is that this film could have been made out of any of a vast number of similar scams, at least 70 of which have been reported over approximately 10 yrs, none to the extent of this one but still, 70 times someone in a position non to minimal authority over others was convinced to act completely out of character tasking a role of authority that they had no right to take ~ that is what makes this film so very interesting.
Interesting alone does not a film make... Lets be honest a movie can have a great concept, and still bomb, its needs great performances to carry that concept through from point to point in a believable way that makes us want to watch, and the cast of Compliance does just that. Ann Dowd in the role of the restaurant manager is definitely a standout. Upon first receiving the call you can see hesitation and discomfort in Sandra as Officer Daniels request certain tasks of her to help move along the "investigation", but as the story proceeds forward Ann plays the evolution of her role of authority beautifully. She moves from awkward and sympathetic with Becky to irritated and pushy, egged on every step of the way by the manipulative "Officer Daniels". I have to make mention of Dreama Walker as Becky too. Becky is just as powerfully played. We watch as she loses her sense of self, changing from a confident and defiant young lady to a girl wracked with fear, guilt and self disgust. Pat Healy and Bill camp bring a lot to the table in this one too!
This is a film that will left me feeling almost dirty for having seen it. I wanted to smack sense into my neighbors simply because they too could at any point prove to be this damn gullible and lacking in forethought. And then there was a part of me that wanted to watch it with my kids so that we could have a long talk about why it is important to always stick to their guns, and if ever in doubt about what their rights are call mom and dad, and then I remembered that they were 2 and 3 so yeah kind of put a quick stop to that plan lol! Hopefully you get the point the film moves you, it invests you in it deeply, it gets under your skin and makes you wonder about both yourself and the people you think you know. I highly recommend this one, if your looking for a change of pace that still has a really nice creepy edge to it Compliance is a great choice for your movie appetite!