Compliance (Craig Zobel, 2013)

What's it about? A prank caller pretending to be a police officer calls Sandra (Ann Dowd), the manager of a fast food restaurant, telling her one of employees (Dreama Walker) is being investigated for stealing money. How far will Sandra go to comply with instructions from the voice of authority on the line?

Is it any good? Okay, listen carefully, I'm in charge here so I think the best thing you can do is take your clothes off and read the review and it'll all be over soon. Okay? Can you do that? Good. There will come a point in this film where the viewer will probably think  'Well, that would never happen'. But here's the thing - it did happen. As the film states at the start, the incident (and many others like it) took place in real life and what happens in the film has not been exaggerated. So it's forces the viewer to consider that how they think they would react might be different from how they actually would react in reality. Therein lies the food for thought in this low-key drama. So whilst it's not an unbearably tense thriller, the fact that the events actually happened as depicted gives it a rather uneasy power. Its authenticity is helped by some excellent acting, particularly from Dowd, as she wavers between wanting to 'do the right thing' for the police and her intrinsic sense of right and wrong. All in all, it does a pretty good job of capturing the manipulation involved in the elaborate prank and I'd be surprised if it didn't lead to some discussion with fellow viewers afterwards. Ask yourself just how far would you have gone along with the voice of authority in that situation? Can you be sure about that? Well? Can you answer that? No? I think you need to be punished. Have you still your clothes off? Is there someone with you who can spank you? Good. 

Anything else I should know? Well, obviously you'll want to read all about the real events, which you can find here. But, as referenced at the start of the film, it's a clear example of the famous Milgram Shock Experiment, carried out by Stanley Milgram in the 60s to assess how far individuals would go in obeying an instruction from a figure in authority, even though it involved harming another person. As it turned out, quite far indeed. Milgram concluded that ordinary people are likely to follow orders given by an authority figure, even to the extent of killing an innocent human being, partly because obedience to authority is ingrained in us all from the way we are brought up (e.g. obey parents, teachers or anyone in uniform/authority).
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