Straight to Beta: Compliance
So, my girlfriend was out of town this weekend which means I got to do what I love; be lazy and watch movies…and eat away my feelings. All was going according to plan. I spent the last two days in my pajamas, I was eating every half hour, and my blanket fort on the couch was coming along nicely. Then I watched a movie that brought my cozy reclusive world crumbling to the ground – Compliance. Or, as I like to call it, The Quickest Way to Get Me to Take a Shower Because it Makes Me Feel Super Dirty Movie. Sorry, still playing with the title. Let’s get into it.
Compliance is the true story of a fast food manager, Sandra(Ann Dowd), who receives a call from a man claiming to be a police officer that is investigating an alleged theft perpetrated that very day by one of her employees, Becky (Dreama Walker). At the officer’s insistence, Sandra brings Becky to a back room where she is asked a series of questions and is then subjected to a strip search, all while the officer waits on the phone. As the day progresses, the man persists with more questions and demands for Becky as she is slowly dragged into the depths of a waking nightmare. Good times! Except, not really…at all.
Seriously, this movie is uncomfortable to say the least. I applaud it on many levels, but a fun filled adventure it is not. It is an icky train wreck that I could not look away from. The problem, however, is that it is nearly impossible for you as an audience member to go along with any of this. Within minutes of the phone call, you know something is up and the fact that NONE of the characters in the story suspect something is asinine. You want to punch each character in the face and yell, “No one is this stupid!” The one thing that keeps you watching is the fact that THIS REALLY HAPPENED. Someone really was that stupid, apparently.
Regardless, even though this is inspired by true events, it doesn’t make me any less frustrated and annoyed by these inept characters. It was probably an amazing story to read in the newspaper, but a rather laborious one to watch as a film. However, this did not take away from the fact that everyone, from writer/director Craig Zobel, to Ann Dowd and Dreama Walker, did a pretty amazing job. These roles in any less capable hands would make the film unwatchable. Instead, it is a challenging, powerful, and unsettling experience that will follow you around like the memory of a torrid affair you’re trying to forget but simply can’t. Don’t forget the popcorn!
I still have one more day until my girlfriend comes back. I will spend it in the shower, scrubbing this movie off me…and probably eating.
Follow Ryan on twitter @ryansmith_76.