Tuesday, February 12, 2013
The general feeling I gather people get from seeing Compliance is one of anger. It's a sentiment that is not so much geared towards the prank caller who demands that the manager of a fast food joint strip search an employee wrongly accused of theft, but towards those who comply to the caller's request. He creates a scene in which he plays a cop who has been confronted with a customer who says that the young female employee has stolen money from her handbag. Having meticulously thought through the plan, the caller then elaborates further and further until he has essentially created a real crime scene out of a fake one. He is the only one involved in the scheme and the only way he gets away with it is because his victims, as society has trained them, adhere to authority. His demands are outrageous and cruel and it seems as if any sensible person would recognize that this is not typical police procedural. It's as if the fact that he's a cop causes the necessity for obedience to fog up the victims' natural sense of reason. And also, one should point out, without giving any details away, that the caller has planned this so that he has different methods of persuasion depending on who he's talking to. The viewer is completely aware of what's going on the entire time and feels absolutely helpless, and this is the cause of this anger that produced walkouts during the film's theatrical run. Compliance is based off a true story, and the caller apparently tried this over seventy times. Most of the time people discovered that he was a fake sooner than what's depicted here. So one can be somewhat comforted to know that this particular case is not indicative of typical human behavior during these pranks. But that being said, these are still normal human beings and one can't help but wonder if being in their shoes in that exact situation whether they would have let things get so out of hand. Here is a very compact, resourceful, intelligent thriller. It's dark and unsettling and would be quite problematic were it not based on fact. But as it stands, I think it's something lots of people should see, or at least know about.