11th Nov2013

‘Compliance’ Review

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Dreama Walker, Ann Dowd, Pat Healy, Philip Ettinger, Ashlie Atkinson, Stephen Payne | Written and Directed by Craig Zobel

Compliance-header

When you look at the poster for Compliance you will see the bold letters exclaiming that it is “based on true events”, a notion that becomes harder to believe the longer this film lasts. Yet based on true events it is – true events caught on CCTV in a McDonalds restaurant (I use that term loosely) in Mount Washington,Kentucky back in 2004. Yet the story is still very hard to believe. That said, it has plenty of positive things going for it…

Craig Zobel, the director of this film, is someone who I would be lying if I said I was familiar with. He has worked on documentary films and titles unknown to me, and is currently working on a sci-fi number starring Chris Pine and Amanda Seyfried, but I know nothing else of him. Still, he could be one to watch out for.

Dreama Walker (The Good Wife) plays Becky, a fast-food chain store worker who’s boss Sandra, the manager of said store, played excellently by Ann Dowd (Side Effects), is having a bad day. People have called in sick, nothing is going well. Suddenly Sandra receives a phone call from gentleman claiming to be a police officer who informs her that one of her employees has been discovered stealing from a customer. Becky is the accused, and through forceful verbal orders from the “policeman”, Sandra takes Becky into a back room to interrogate her. The story, from here, becomes more and more intense as the “officer” demands that Sandra carry our various “procedures” in order to “help the investigation”.

There are times when it’s hard not to remember the “based on true events” tagline and roll your eyes here, with some of the things happening being so extreme that you fell they surely can’t have happened anywhere (but they did). Even ignoring the true story element though, Complaince is a good thriller with enough twists and turns to keep you on your toes. It borders on disturbing at times, but often finds itself feeling a little silly at times too.

The lead performers do their jobs well and the film, which takes place mostly in the confines of a stock-room/office, manages to hold attention and offer plenty of interesting developments to keep the viewer entertained. It isn’t perfect, with the odd secondary character feeling very flat and, dare I say, stupid. It looks fine, giving a grim grey haze to the tale, helping it on its way to being a creepy little story.

At its core, Compliance is a thriller about individual power and how people who are given the opportunity to be powerful can so easily abuse it. It’s flawed in many ways, but interesting enough to feel worth a watch.

Compliance is available on DVD and Blu-ray, now from Soda Pictures.

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