“Compliance” (2012) dir. Craig Zobel

One of the best and creepiest films of the year is Craig Zobel’s indie drama “Compliance.” Based on a stranger-than-fiction true story, the film is about a manager at a fast food restaurant who receives a call from someone who says they’re a police officer. The caller says that one of the employees has stolen from a restaurant patron and that the manger needs to detain the employee until the police arrive. Through verbal manipulation, the caller has the manager (and others) perform an increasingly bizarre, disturbing, and illegal series of activities on the employee.

“Compliance” has garnered a lot of praise … and a lot of walkouts. Many people can’t believe that others would be so stupid, that they would commit heinous acts because someone who sounds like they’re an authority figure told them to. But they do. And it happens more frequently than you would think. “Compliance” is based on a real case that happened in 2004 in Kentucky, and what happened is actually not an isolated occurrence.  It’s called the “strip search prank call scam,” and there’s loads more details at this Wikipedia article:


As for the film, Zobel has done a solid job showing how this sordid series of events went down. Actress Ann Dowd, who plays the manager, has already won Best Supporting Actress from the National Board of Review for her performance. This was also one of director John Waters Ten Best Films of 2012.

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