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Featured DVD / Blu-ray Review: Compliance

February 23rd, 2013

Compliance - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

Compliance had some pretty good pre-release buzz for a limited release and its reviews were even better than the buzz. This helped it opened with more than $16,000 in just one theater. However, after that it really struggled and quickly disappeared from theaters. Is it the type of film that will please critics, but not the average moviegoer? Or does it deserve a wider audience?

The Movie

Compliance takes place at a fast food restaurant with the manager, Sandra, getting some supplies. It seems someone didn't close the freezer door properly the night before and they lost nearly $1,500 worth of food. She also didn't tell her regional manager this happened, and as a result, the delivery guy yells at her. This puts her in a bad mood, plus she has the added stress of dealing with a possible quality control test that day. When she addresses her workers, one of them, Becky, is sure Sandra blames her for the freezer door mistake. Becky isn't the best employee, but she needs this job.

Sandra, already having a very stressful day, gets a call from a policeman, an Officer Daniels. It seems a customer has accused an employee of the restaurant of stealing money from her purse, and from the description given, Sandra thinks they are referring to Becky. Officer Daniels gets Sandra to bring Becky into the back office to ask her some questions. He then asks Sandra to search Becky's pockets looking for the money, and take her cell phone, then take her purse. When Sandra finds nothing, Officer Daniels asks Sandra to keep Becky at the store until the cops can come and get her. Sandra agrees to help the cops. She even agrees to help, after Officer Daniels asks Sandra to strip search Becky.

It is shortly after the strip search where we learn an important fact. It is both a major, major spoiler, and something the studio gives away in the trailer. I'm not comfortable talking about this part of the movie, so we will end the plot summary there.

Speaking of not being comfortable, that's a good way to describe what watching this movie is like. Compliance is both an amazing movie and a movie that I never want to see again. It is anchored by great performances from both Dreama Walker and Ann Dowd; Ann Dowd even won Best Supporting Actress at this years National Board of Review and is up for an Independent Spirit Award. The film is disturbing and difficult to get through, which explains why it didn't find a wider audience in limited release. It is so disturbing that some critics called the film unbelievable. The film is based on true events. And it is not the "inspired by true events", like Psycho, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and The Silence of the Lambs, which were all inspired by true events. It follows the actual crimes very closely.

The Extras

Extras begin with a ten-minute interview with the writer / director, Craig Zobel. There are also two minutes of behind-the-scenes footage. Finally there is a four-minute making of featurette. That's not a lot of extras, but it isn't bad for a limited release.

I don't have the Blu-ray to compare, but it costs just $4 or 23% more than the DVD, which is a very good price.

The Verdict

I'm torn on what to recommend for Compliance. It is absolutely worth watching, but I'm not sure a lot of people will want to watch it more than once. It is definitely better to watch at home then in the theater, because at least on DVD or Blu-ray, you can pause the movie when it gets too stressful to watch.

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Filed under: Video Review, Compliance, Ann Dowd, Pat Healy, Dreama Walker, Craig Zobel