Stanley Milgram was a Yale university psychologist studying human obedience to authority figures. His experiments on the subject suggested that people would do questionable things to another human if ordered to by a person of higher authority. People would obey this higher authority even if they were ordered to do something that goes against their conscience and moral beliefs. In America there have been quite a few incidents  where prank callers have impersonated police officers and ordered restaurant managers to victimize employees. One such case known as the Strip Search Prank Call scam is the focus of the movie Compliance. Maybe Stanley Milgram was onto something with his experiments.

In Compliance, fast food restaurant manager Sandra (Ann Dowd) receives a phone call from a prankster. The man (Pat Healy) pretends to be a cop called Officer Daniels and tells Sandra that one of her employees Becky (Dreama Walker) committed a crime. Officer Daniels claims he has spoken to the Regional manager and the police station received a complaint about Becky stealing money from the purse of a customer. Sandra is then told to take Becky into the backroom and strip search her to find the money which she does. Things gradually go from bad to worse as the situation spirals out of control. Other patrons of the restaurant become involved and the prank callers demands become increasingly bizarre and twisted.

The story in Compliance is shocking but also thought provoking. It seems hard to believe any sane person would do such a horrible thing to another person just because they were told to by a stranger on the phone.

The film is directed by Craig Zobel and it’s nice to see actresses like Ann Dowd and Dreama Walker getting bigger parts in movies. Pat Healy is also a decent character actor and he delivered a good performance in Ti West’s horror movie The Innkeepers. It looks like most of Compliance is set inside the restaurant location which would serve the movie well. The camera work is quite nice and there is good use of close-ups, CCTV footage and some nice editing in the trailer.

Compliance is released on March 1st.

Have a look at the trailer and let us know what you think.