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  Compliance Just Hang UpBuy this film here.
Year: 2012
Director: Craig Zobel
Stars: Ann Dowd, Dreama Walker, Pat Healy, Philip Ettinger, Ashlie Atkinson, Bill Camp, Stephen Payne, Nikya Mathis, James McCaffrey, Ralph Rodriguez, Desmin Borges, Matt Servitto, John Merolla, Matt Skibiak, Jeffrey Grover
Genre: Drama
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Sandra (Ann Dowd) is not having a good day. She is the manager of a fast food restaurant and the other day one of her employees left the door to a walk-in refrigerator open, thus spoiling a lot of the produce. Taking a delivery of the replacement, or as much bacon as they can find at short notice for this busy period, the supplier who drove the van lambasts her for her poor working practices, but she swallows her pride and has to take his criticism, even though she feels he is being unfair. Nobody has owned up to the refrigerator incident, but she suspects Becky (Dreama Walker) - she always has been a flighty type in Sandra's eyes...

This opens with the statement that it is based on true events, and ends by telling us it is an incident which has occurred to some extent or another in seventy places across America, but the stuff in between would be difficult to accept as the truth were it not for the facts backing up the opening and closing statement. It's not a controversy about a fridge door, it's a controversy about just how gullible people can be when someone in apparent authority orders them to do something, no matter how outrageous it might appear. In this film, drawn from real cases but mostly the Mount Washington McDonald's Incident, credibility was considerably stretched.

But what was most unsettling about it was since it did all happen pretty much as we see here, was the credibility that you would think within the bounds of reason would be impossible to accept, especially as it escalated, would have been exposed simply by someone saying, wait a minute, the police just don't act in this way, and thus the fraud would be revealed. That fraud begins when Sandra takes a call from a man purporting to be a police officer investigating a case of theft, which involved Becky as a suspect: he claims a woman has had forty dollars stolen from her purse by the girl, and Sandra must keep Becky in a back room until he can send some of his officers to fetch her.

It doesn't end there, however, as he stays on the line and asks Sandra to question her, and of course she denies all knowledge of any robbery on her part, entirely because she is innocent. Yet the persuasiveness of the poisonous mind is demonstrated amply by the way the caller manages to increase the indignities on Becky all the way into the night, something he is getting off on, the power trip that by all rights should not have made any headway at all, yet because not only Sandra but the rest of her staff are all too willing to believe the word of a pervert on the phone without question he goes far too far with what ends up as a violation of the girl, every bit orchestrated by this supposed "Officer Daniels".

Which is to say, the fake officer convinces Sandra to take Becky's clothes in a strip search, then leave her wearing nothing but an apron - and at times not even that - as he drags out the prank to tortuous degrees. All of which may be accurate to what actually happened, but doesn't leave you with much in the way of entertainment, and there were those who criticised director Craig Zobel for being as exploitative as the prankster in making this movie, apparently unaware how accurate, even reserved, he was being. That said, as the incident is allowed to continue on deep into the night and the victim is further taken advantage of sexually, if this didn't make you angry it was likely going to make you very uncomfortable. If Zobel's purpose was to wake his audience up to not believing everything they were told by an anonymous voice on the phone - or by extension on the internet, or face to face even - then watching this would with any luck prevent further incidents of the same type. You had to hope it didn't give perverts any ideas, however. String music by Heather McIntosh.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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