Movie review: Compliance

By Columbus Alive
From the September 20, 2012 edition

“Compliance” is a horror film of the most disquieting kind. It’s a story that makes us squirm and one that makes us ask uncomfortable questions.

Oh, and it’s actually based on true events. This is worth remembering when you think this can’t possibly be real.

Becky (Dreama Walker) is a typical teen working a typical teen job at a fast-food joint in a small town. Her middle-aged manager Sandra (Ann Dowd) is trying to survive a Friday rush when she gets a phone call.

It’s a police officer — or at least someone claiming to be. He tells Sandra that a customer has accused Becky of stealing. And he tells Sandra that she will need to detain her.

Events unfold in real time over the next 90 minutes, as the man on the phone instructs Sandra to strip search Becky.

I’ll reiterate that the events that inspired this film are based on real incidents that spanned a decade. That’s precisely why this film is so haunting.

Writer-director Craig Zobel keeps us squirming in disbelief at what is happening. And the questions posed about how people respond to authority will make for great post-film discussion.

It’s not an easy film to watch, but it’s one of the best indies I’ve seen this year.