'Compliance' is another movie that I'd never heard of before watching it, starring actors I'm mostly unfamiliar with and based on a real-life incident that I knew nothing about. In other words, a very random choice for me to stream on Netflix. (Hey, at least I wasn't going in with any biases.)
If I didn't know the movie was based on a true story (which it tells us right off), I'd have undoubtedly called B.S. The reason being that almost all of the main characters behave in an EXTREMELY naive manner (to put it nicely -- or, as more blunt reviewers have put it, the characters in
'Compliance' are kind of stupid).
Basically, the story begins after a man calls a fast-food restaurant on the phone one day claiming to be a police officer. The guy talks at length to the restaurant manager (a middle-aged woman established in a few early scenes as rather insecure and intent on doing her job the "right" way, though she doesn't always succeed at this; the woman is played by Ann Dowd in the film's standout performance) and, in the process, informs her that a "19-year-old blonde girl" supposedly stole some money from a customer's purse. So the manager names a girl ("Becky") who just happens to fit the vague physical description given by the prank caller; of course, the caller plays right along. Per the so-called police officer's request, the manager pulls Becky aside into a back room. There, the manager, Becky, and some others briefly summoned to the room each proceed to obey the "officer's" increasingly bizarre demands (these scenes make up most of the film); eventually, it all leads to something... well, to something ugly.
All in all, while the story is indeed hard-to-believe, the film reveals that "Becky's" incident was far from the first of its kind. Based on what I read afterward, there were many such incidents in the 1990's and early 2000's. Apparently 'Compliance' is based on the case that lead to the caller's arrest; and it seems to be a fairly accurate version of the events that were reported in that particular case.
'Compliance' isn't mind-blowing; it has its share of flaws. But for what it is (sort of a psychological thriller/true-crime movie), the story is handled pretty well (with a great performance by Dowd), and it might be worth a watch if you're into these types of films. (6/10)