Compliance (2012)


“Compliance” made its premiere on last year’s Sundance Film Festival and received generally positive review from critics. HollywoodReporter made a report of the situation of the premiere, which was full of shouting and tension due to the controversy and the overall topic that “Compliance” raised. Maybe the fact that the topic was a true event is what makes “Compliance” a controversy. This independent film talks about a prank call that ends in sexual assault to women. Trust me, after having a chance to watch it, I feel the film itself is kind of annoying and unbelievably stressful. Read more to understand why.

It was a busy day in ChickWich, a fast-food restaurant in a town in USA. Sandra (played by Ann Dowd), the manager of ChickWich, received a phone call from someone addressing himself as a police officer named Officer Daniels (played by Pat Healy), saying that one of her employees—who was described similarly to Becky (played by Dreama Walker)—stole money from the customer. Officer Daniels said that he and his team was working on the case and inspecting Becky’s house, so they could not go to the restaurant soon to investigate Becky. At last, he asked Sandra to strip-search Becky to find the money.


At first I don’t wanna mention that “Compliance” is about a prank call, because I think it would be a kind of spoiler, but IMDb and many other reviewers have said so. Anyway, maybe at the first place you would have suspected that the phone call Sandra received was not a real call from the police. It just went peculiar when a police officer asked a civilian to do such a criminal investigation. The stress point is how could Sandra and all other employees tricked to recognize the caller as a real cop. I don’t know, I just kept wondering if there was a hypnotizing effect of the words of the prank caller that made Sandra be brain-washed to do such an extremely annoying thing (see, even she nodded to ask one of her male employee to do the strip-search!) that Officer Daniels instructed. Was it just a form of stupidity, was it because that they were having a very busy day in the restaurant, or was it because Sandra was somewhat hypnotized by Daniels? You can ask yourself what you are gonna do if you get that kind of call. Will you just nod to the instructions given or will you inspect who the caller really is? That’s the point. It went so emotionally gripping that I just couldn’t stand seeing them getting punked and being so silly. It just makes you want to shout bad words and swears. However, if your tension gets raised after watching this movie, it’s a proof that “Compliance” did such a nice job to play with your attention. Maybe you will question who the prank caller really was, what his motive was, and was the motive connected to any personal revenge or something, but actually “Compliance” will just give you a fact that there is more than 70 similar accidents happened around the country and what Becky and Sandra had was just a small capture of a bigger current situation. It is not a one-of-a-kind story, and although that makes me a little bit unsatisfied with the ending (you know, I just wanted to see the prank caller be tortured to death for what he have done :P), it’s still a surprising true event.

Applause is given to Ann Dowd for being such a “silly” manager in a hectic situation. ChickWich was having a bunch of customers, running out of bacon, and getting an unknown call. Those three occurrences surrounded Sandra, but she could manage them all in order, responsibly, and nicely. Maybe Sandra was the one accused for all the sexual assault that Becky had, but there are times I see her innocent for all her instructions to Becky, re-instructed from Daniels from the phone, because maybe as the only leader in the restaurant, she was too wired-in to focus on a single problem. Ann Dowd naturally makes it possible to be both reckless and strong and it is a good thing from “Compliance”. The low-point of it comes from Dreama Walker. As a victim, I didn’t see her looked depressed or disturbed for all the annoying thing happened to her. Nothing slightly changed from her mimics and expressions, and although the movie itself is gripping enough for the acting she did—and she was whom our sympathy was addressed to, I guess if she played more with her emotion regarding to the sexual harassment she had, “Compliance” will go more disturbing. We’ll see her topless here but I don’t think it’s something urgently needed for the plot, because she unsuccessfully comprehend the total stress that Becky actually had.


Finally, “Compliance” is a one-and-a-half hour of depression. I just can’t keep myself sit comfortably watching a woman sexually harassed via phone, but I realize that this is what “Compliance” successfully did to its viewers. It is somewhat disturbing, irritating, and silently provocative. It just hooked you to got mad (and shout “You freggin’ mor*n!”) but “Compliance” just gave you a capture of facts. Seriously, if you have an emotional problem, you should not watch this one. Haha. It went more than the simplicity it has, and while it seems unbelievable, “Compliance”—again—is just a capture of true event.

Compliance3.5 out of 5 stars

 ▲  Ann Dowd, emotionally-provoking
 ▼  less emotional acting by Dreama Walker, lacks of motives and supporting back-stories

COMPLIANCE | COUNTRY USA YEAR 2012 RATING Rated R for language and sexual content/nudity RUNTIME 90 min GENRE Crime, Drama, Thriller CAST Ann Dowd, Dreama Walker, Pat Healy, Bill Camp, Philip Ettinger WRITER Craig Zobel DIRECTOR Craig Zobel IMDB RATING 6.5/10 METACRITC 68/100 (Generally Favorable) ROTTEN TOMATOES 89% (Certified Fresh) MORE INFO

Akbar Saputra

Phasellus facilisis convallis metus, ut imperdiet augue auctor nec. Duis at velit id augue lobortis porta. Sed varius, enim accumsan aliquam tincidunt, tortor urna vulputate quam, eget finibus urna est in augue.


  1. It's a creepy film isn't it. I can't get over that it is based (heavily) on a true story and that this went down almost thirty times before they caught the guy.

    It's a shame they gave away the prank call thing so early on (that's probably why reviewers and imdb haven't held back from revealing that). I think the director let us know too much too soon. It made if feel a little unbelievable. Still, if that's how it went down, that's how it went down.

    1. Yeah, maybe it could lead viewers to ask what was actually happening if they didn't give any clue earlier. Haha, it is creepy. The last time I feel this stressed is when I watched Kathy Bates' "Misery", although "Misery" was much more stressful.