Film, Thrillers
4 out of 5 stars
2 out of 5 stars
(10user reviews)

In the early part of the last decade, over 70 phone calls were made to supermarkets and fast food restaurants across the US. The MO was always the same: the caller would claim to be a police officer, allege that an employee was guilty of theft, and request her colleagues to carry out a strip search. The manager on duty would comply. After all, this was a cop calling. But on at least one occasion – in the Mount Washington, Kentucky branch of McDonald’s in 2004 – the caller’s demands went much further. ‘Compliance’ dramatises these events in clear, clinical detail, painting a stark, devastating portrait of human susceptibility in the face of an unseen authority.

Dreama Walker plays Becky, the young checkout girl at a ‘Chickwich’ franchise, who puts up scant resistance when store manager Sandra (Ann Dowd) calls her into the back office on the orders of Officer Daniels (Pat Healy) – who is actually a quiet suburban father hundreds of miles away. The chain of events that unfold strain believability, but writer-director Craig Zobel’s script hews disturbingly close to the facts.

This approach doesn’t entirely work: although the overall mood of deepening moral compromise is compellingly sustained, Zobel does struggle to sell some of the later scenes. Part of the problem is the casting: while Dowd and Healy are flawless, Walker seems a little too headstrong as the abused Becky.

But this doesn’t stop ‘Compliance’ from being a riveting, horrifying film, shot through with beautifully observed moments of unwelcome truth. It’s as much a critique of the enclosed systems of modern life – small towns, local authorities, dead-end jobs with meaningless heirarchies – as it is of sick individuals with cellphones.


Release details

Release date:
Friday March 22 2013
90 mins

Cast and crew

Craig Zobel
Dreama Walker
Pat Healy
Ann Dowd

Average User Rating

2.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:0
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
1 person listening

'Struggle to sell some of the later scenes!' I'm sorry but Zobel does more than struggle. The film should be retitled 'taking a fucking liberty,' But a liberty not with the young girl but with us the audience! Give us some credit please. These incidents may well have occured in the States on more than 70 occasions but so has alien abduction! so try selling us that shit...1 star for a nice pair.

I am moderately confused at how Walker could seem too "headstrong" when you also claim that Becky put up "scant" resistance. I realize Walker and Becky are not quite the same, and yet it seems a contradiction to me. I found Walker's portrayal of Becky to be quite compelling.

God this is tedious. I was unbelievably bored by the interminable labouring of the incredibly obvious fact that people do things they wouldn't normally when told to by people in authority. Gosh! Who knew? 'riveting, horrifying' .... 'shot through with beautifully observed moments of unwelcome truth' ? Get a life !

A nasty little film that justifies its squalid story by claiming to be accurate with an oblique reference to Milgram's Experiment. However it fails to complete the story with any information to have justified the uncomfortable viewing. If you enjoy being a voyeur, like the idea of women being degraded and take your porn softly, then this is the film for you. Tom of Timeout liked it so much it gave it four stars, but don't let his preferences be yours. In reality this is no more than a one star film being upmarketed. Quite a few walkouts during the film, they didn't miss anything and saved spoiling their night.

Whilst the film is well acted, it is not enjoyable film to watch. It is disturbing and ultimately a depressing tale about the gullible / stupid. Frankly, it as not a surprise, given how thick a lot of people are - a sad state of affairs.

I think a key factor is the true story involved McDonald's staff. Not the smartest bunch or they would not be working there. So you have a film based around some really really stupid people being really really dumb. Mind numbingly dumb. Stupidity beyond the intelligence of someone with an IQ above 50. "Compelling"? I don't think so. If this is compelling to the reviewer he needs to get out more.

how is this movie getting such good reviews? this would never ever happen, ever. not one character in the movie thought to say no to the guy on the phone and hang up? come on. the chick didn't steal anything, so why wouldn't she be like, nope, come down here, and hang up. this was ridiculous. i couldn't take it seriously after the dumb restaurant manager didn't say let me call the district manager, or just hang the f up. THIS WOULD NEVER EVER HAPPEN.

after hearing audiences applaud utter crap like hyde park on the the house and the sessions you copuld have heard a pin drop but conversation got very animated as they made their way to the street

just saw at lff.. mass walkouts ..people shouting... one mam screaming lets all go and booing at the end... what did they think the films abut.. an H ans S audit havent witnesed such a reaction since larry clarks bully... go see