There are fewer red flags bigger, as far as I’m concerned, than the phrase “based on a true story”. It’s at once a potential for a good scary time and a license for abuse unlike any other. “Compliance”, a copy of which our friends at Magnolia sent out for us to review, plays heavily to this idea, and it’s going to do a good job of it. Perhaps too good a job.
“Compliance” takes us out to a small fast-food joint in suburban Ohio. A busy Friday night shift is about to commence, and manager Sandra is under the gun to keep the place moving as best she knows how. She’s a fairly good manager, if a bit on the uptight side, but she knows her place in the universe. One night, she gets a call from the police, saying that a customer has filed a report about one particular employee of Sandra’s, an attractive young blonde by the name of Becky, saying that Becky has stolen some money. What follows is a horrorshow beyond description as the police conduct an investigation via phone that only gets more invasive, more traumatizing, and more ultimately terrifying when it’s discovered just who it is that’s really running the investigation.
Indeed, the scariest stories are those that are the most believable, and in a case like this, frankly, “Compliance” succeeds. “Compliance” didn’t even need the banner of “based on a true story” to be scary because it was already so very likely to happen. We’ve put an awful lot of authority in the hands of the police and the government of late; it was really only a matter of time until someone would try to impersonate a cop for their own end.
The thing about “Compliance” is that it takes its time to deliver the punches. We all know what’s coming, but it’s going to take them a good long while to actually make the hit. They are going to drag this on for a good long time, and the end result is going to be extremely uncomfortable. It takes nearly a quarter of the film’s run time before they actually start delivering the hits, and things will only get more graphic and more disturbing the father in we go. The phrase “graphic and disturbing” is actually going to be an excellent description of “Compliance” as a whole.
It’s deeply disturbing, in fact–those who like their thrillers with a side order of disturbing are going to get everything they asked for and more out here–and it’s also a distressing commentary on society in general. Disturbing that we allow things to get that far. Disturbing that someone would actually go this far with this kind of thing. Thankfully there would be plenty of comeuppance all the way around–some deserved, some not so deserved–and the movie as a whole does a pretty nice job of sticking to the events it is set to portray.
By way of special features, there will be plenty on hand, including audio options and your choice of English or Spanish subtitles, as well as a set of BD-Live features for those with connected Blu-ray players. Those without the bandwidth to enjoy such things will also get features of their own, including an interview with the director, a behind the scenes featurette, an AXS TV look at the film, and trailers for “Deadfall”, “A Royal Affair”, “Nobody Walks”, “Jack and Diane”, and “Compliance”, as well as a bit of a promo reel for AXS TV.
“Compliance” is horrendous, disturbing stuff. It’s going to be a very difficult movie to watch, and by like token, it’s going to be one that should be watched. A society of laws must be bound by the rule of law, but when the rule of law is perverted in such a fashion, that’s not a move any of us can take seriously, or lying down.