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Compliance (2012)Compliance (2012)

            Writer-director Craig Zobel's psycho-drama explores a well-known and deeply disturbing question: why do ordinary people comply with the demands of authority figures and do evil things? In this film, Sandra is a fifty-something stressed-out manager of a fast food restaurant in small town Ohio. She's out of bacon, expecting a quality assurance secret guest from corporate, and it's a harried Friday night. She gets a phone call from one "Officer Daniels" who says he's on the line with her regional manager and that they suspect one of her employees, Becky, of stealing from a customer. Would she please help? In fact, Daniels is a prank caller who's a sadistic master of every form of psychological manipulation — intimidation, flattery, passive aggression, guilt, etc. Sandra complies with his requests for an increasingly abusive interrogation of Becky in the back room of the restaurant. Co-workers are drawn into the plot with varied responses. The movie has drawn comparisons to the participation of ordinary citizens in the Holocaust, or the famous "prison study" by the Stanford psychologist Philip Zimbardo that ended early when students started acting out their roles as abusive guards and compliant inmates. What's most disturbing is the note at the end of the film that says it is based on over 70 similar incidents in 30 states.

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