Compliance (2013)


Summary:  On a particularly busy day at a suburban fast food restaurant, high-strung manager Sandra (Ann Dowd) receives a phone call from a police officer reporting that a young employee, Becky (Dreama Walker), has stolen money from a customer. Commencing an investigation, Sandra follows instructions from the policeman no matter how invasive they become. Director Craig Zobel (Great World of Sound) explores a riveting true story in which the line between legality and reason is blurred by the best of intentions. Delving into the complex psychology of real-life events, Zobel shows that truth really is stranger than fiction.

Year: 2013

Australian Cinema Release Date: 17th January, 2013

Australian DVD Release Date: TBA

Country: USA

Director: Craig Zobel

Screenwriter: Craig Zobel

Cast: Michael Abbott Jnr. (Officer Jimmy Palmer), Ashlie Atkinson (Marti), Desmin Borges (Officer Morris), Bill Camp (Van), Ann Dowd (Sandra), Philip Ettinger Kevin), Amelie Fowler (Brie), Pat Healy (Officer Daniels), Nikiya Mathis (Connie), James McCaffrey (Detective Neals), Stephen Payne (Harold), Ralph Rodriguez (Julio), Matt Skibiak (Robert Gilmour), Dreama Walker (Becky)

Runtime: 90 mins


Dave Griffiths’s ‘Compliance’ Review: 

When cinema goers at the Melbourne International Film Festival walk out of a film you know it’s a hardcore watch, after all people that attend a festival like that are serious movie fans not just families cruising in to watch a film while they munch on some popcorn.

The thing about ‘Compliance’ is it might be a confronting watch that won’t be everybody’s cup-of-tea but it is still a well written and brilliantly acted crime drama/thriller that the serious cinema goer is going to be really impressed with.

Based on actual events ‘Compliance’ sees fast food restaurant manager Sandra (Ann Dowd – The Discoverers, Bachelorette) under intense stress. It is a busy Friday night, her restaurant is understaffed and one of her inept staff members left the freezer ajar the night before meaning they are fast running out of ingredients for a lot of their menu.

In the middle of it all Sandra takes a phone call. A call from a man identifying himself as Officer Daniels (Pat Healy – The Innkeepers, When You Find Me) who claims that he is currently investigating a report that a staff member called Becky (Drema Walker – Vamperifica, The Kitchen) has stolen money from a customer. He orders Sandra to conduct a strip-search on her and as the night goes on Daniels also incorporates other staff members including Kevin (Philip Ettinger – Sleepwalk With Me, Brooklyn Brothers Beat The Best) and Marti (Ashlie Atkinson – He’s Way More Famous Than You, TV’S 30 Rock), as well as Sandra’s fiancee Van (Bill Camp – Lincoln, Lawless) into his perverse game. Each person completely obeys Daniels orders and the degrading experience eventually turns into Becky being sexually assaulted.

What makes ‘Compliance’ such a gripping watch is the fact that director/screenwriter Craig Zobel (Great World Of Sound) has done his job extremely well. Both the screenplay and style of the film are so naturalistic that it feels like you are a fly-on-the-wall rather than someone watching a film. To his credit however Zobel never glorifies any of the things that are occurring on the screen

At times the audience may find themselves thinking ‘would anybody really fall for this prank’ or ‘has Zobel exaggerated what really happened’, but perhaps the most scary thing is that the prank at hand was used 70 times in real life and people fell for it each time, you can’t really criticise Zobel when he is just following what really happened.

The naturalistic style of the film also carries over to the performances of the lead actors. Ann Dowd is brilliant as the flustered Sandra while Dreama Walker really announces herself as a young actress with a lot of talent.

However, the actor that really stands out is Pat Healy who gets to be ‘Compliance’s’ bad Guy. He plays the evil ‘Officer Daniels’ with eerie realism and is certainly an actor to watch in the future. ‘Officer Daniels’ is easily one of the evilest characters to ever grace the screen and Pat Healy pulls off the role with ease.

‘Compliance’ is at times a hard watch, but it is also one of the best written films that you are likely to see this year.

Other Subculture Media Reviews of ‘Compliance′: Check Episode #16 of our The Good The Bad The Ugly Podcast for a more in-depth review of ‘Compliance’. Dave’s other review of ‘Compliance’ can be found on the Helium Entertainment Channel

Rating: 4/5

IMDB Rating: Compliance (2012) on IMDb