‘Compliance’ is chilling and unnerving everyday horror

- Advertisement -


Compliance

Written and directed by Craig Zobel

USA, 2012

The incident has happened more than 70 times in 30 different states in the U.S.: a man claiming to be a police officer calls a fast-food restaurant and tells the manager that one of the female employees has been accused of a theft. He instructs the manager to strip-search the woman and perform all manner of punishments upon her, some of them sexual in nature. The manager performs them without dispute. Why? There is no easy answer, but Craig Zobel’s new film Compliance makes for a chilling and unnerving exploration of the question.

Here the manager is Sandra (Ann Dowd), facing a stressful Friday night at an Ohio franchise in the fictional ChickWich chain. The employee is Becky (Dreama Walker), called in for an overtime shift on her off day. The early scenes in the film are intriguing in how they establish the rules of compliance for these characters: the conditions under which they will obey an order and when they won’t, the ways that other people in their lives demand from them, the responsibilities that they feel or don’t feel to the people around them.

Then the call begins, and the movie quickly becomes disturbing. Long before the Caller (Pat Healy) is revealed to be a hoax, the audience will sense something wrong; long before the punishments turn sexual, it will seem that both Sandra and Becky are being violated. Zobel uses a number of close-up shots of the greasy realities of the fast-food business to establish the true intimacy of the crime – the Caller uses the predictable drudgery of their everyday lives to read them so well that he might as well have telepathy. There has never been a clearer demonstration of the concept that rape is much less about actual sex acts and much more about power.

On the other hand, that clarity may make Compliance a difficult watch. It’s essentially a slow-motion train wreck of rape, an extended sexual assault where the physical acts are being committed by characters who are themselves experiencing a gradual violation. This is a horror film, make no mistake, and the lack of blood spilled does not reduce its intensity in any way. The actors do fine work in letting the decisions show on their faces, of conveying the strange space where they are making a choice and yet believing they have no choice, but the process of the violations themselves may be too intense for some. Indeed, Zobel was greeted by a mixture of boos and applause at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.

Part of the reason people booed this film is that it’s a difficult film to believe. Not because it feels too false, but because it feels too true, so true that audiences would prefer to deny that it could ever be themselves in Sandra’s or Becky’s shoes. It’s easier to assume that these characters are all foolish or gullible. Zobel ties the entire film up with its best scene, in which Sandra tries to make those same denials herself. Once confronted with the truth, her only retreat is back to the very place where the Caller found her so easy to exploit.

-Mark Young





10 Different Types of Financial Aid
Top 10 Richest American Idols
V-Moda Crossfade Wireless
The 5 Most Expensive Wireless Headphones: Ultimate Auditory Clarity
Business man watching business go bankrupt
25 Iconic Companies that Filed for Bankruptcy
The cast of Married...With Children
25 Little-Known Facts about Married…With Children TV Show
Ice Cube at Straight Outta L.A. at Tribeca Film Festival in 2010
10 Best Ice Cube Movies When You Want to Watch Ice Cube
Luke Evans at the Los Angeles premiere of Beauty And The Beast held at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood
10 Best Luke Evans Movies (He did that?)
Football movie being filmed
The 25 Greatest Football Movies of All Time
26 Different Types of Onions
4 Different Types of Cauliflower (Plus Health Benefits)
12 Different Types of Pecans
28 Different Types of Pineapple
10 Different Types of Tow Trucks
Electric mountain bike on the trails
18 Things to Know Before Buying an Electric Bike
Side and rear view of black 2017 Audi A7
23 Things to Know Before Buying an Audi A7
Motorhome on highway going through Bryce Canyon in the USA
13 Types of RV’s (Recreational Vehicles) for All Kinds of Vacation Fun
15 Different Types of Goggles
13 Different Types of Dumbbells
15 Awesome Alternatives to Skateboards (Plus Interesting Facts)
Baseball player hitting ball
10 Types of Baseball Bats that Rip the Leather Off the Ball
Camera, lenses and other photography equipments.
45 of the Best Online Photography and Camera Stores
9 Different Types of Website Hosting
5 Different Types of Pulleys (Plus Examples in Daily Life)
Apple Wallet icon on iPhone
15 Things to Know Before Setting Up Apple Pay
Natural herbal vitamins.
10 of the Best Online Vitamin Stores
>