User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 62 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 45 out of 62
  2. Negative: 10 out of 62

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  1. ber
    Aug 30, 2012
    Everything about this movie is dumb. Not least the characters who must share an IQ of 75 between them. Along with the tedious pacing and sub par acting performances i'm at a loss as to why this is so highly rated.
  2. Feb 13, 2013
    This is the most absurd film ever. I can't believe it has so high score. Even the Americans aren't that dumb, well maybe they are, seeing the score and the reviews.
  3. Dec 13, 2012
    I am beyond baffled as to why this film is getting any sort of praise. The fact that it is based on actual events is it's only saving grace given the fact that almost everything in this is movie dreadful. A nude teen doing jumping jacks in the back of a fast food chain doesn't make for a intriguing plot, it actually discredits any validity the film was barely hanging onto. Disappointing and weak to say the least.. Expand
  4. Mar 9, 2013
    Important to note that this movie is inspired by true events. Not entertaining in the way most movies are. It is uncomfortable to sit through and extremely frustrating, but also very compelling and suspenseful. A unique edge-of-your-seat and absorbing thriller, this is the most unsettling movie of the year.
  5. Oct 27, 2012
    The biggest problem I had with this film was that it felt like a short film being turned into a feature without enough material, and the film runs on empty long before the credits roll. This is like sitting through a student film that keeps running on and on and on and on.
    In spite of solid performances, the characters don't feel like real people but rather like creations of a writer
    with an agenda as his biggest concern: Every character in this movie is expendable to the situation of a prank call gone to the point of sexual assault. The intelligence of the characters was something that bothered me, but what bothered me even more was the notion of a writer not endowing his/her characters with any common sense whatsoever. As a consequence every scene felt like a false note. I am at a loss why some critics have called it tense. Tension would have been good, but I guess that would have required for the writer to care about his/her characters. Finally, I don't think that a movie being based on actual events excuses it from having a bad script. And the script for Compliance is bad. Everything in the movie crumbles because of it. Expand
  6. Jan 16, 2013
    annoying dialogue moronic script 101% unbelievable
    shame on anyone and everyone involved with Compliance
    the DVD extras are also pathic
    I feel much better now
  7. Aug 25, 2012
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Compliance is one of those movies that gets many thinking, "What the hell are these people doing? I'd never let this happen." (I was in that camp, knowing my fair share of Crim Pro.) Director Craig Zobel and star Pat Healey ("Officer Daniels") addressed our audience, stressing that it's not the people who are worried that they might get caught up in this sort of situation that worry them - it's those people who see it as a black and white no-brainer that these employees are idiots who are likely the same people that would likely fall prey to this situation, or the Milgram experiments. I kept thinking about Clooney's line from Michael Clayton - "Police don't call - they show up." As for the film, it's dramatic and interesting, but too much of the film is laser focused on the single night rather than on the post-call ramifications. I found it super interesting that the real-life Officer Daniels was acquitted of all charges - not in the film. Expand
  8. Oct 21, 2012
    I think alot of people are having difficulty realizing that this movie is based on actual events. Alot of people say that the characters are too stupid and the story is too ridiculous, and it might be but the movies accurately represent the events that it is based on (no matter how far fetched they might be). So you just need to accept that and then you will realize that this is a really well made movie. The whole movie has a really organic feel to it, the dialogue is genuine dialogue that you would hear in real life. The acting is really subtle, there is no over acting or stupid characters. I have to mention Ann Dowd who give a great performance and Dreama Walker for actually taking on this role. And the direction is amazing, there is a tense feeling throughout the movie and the long shots give a dream like feeling to the movie. The only thing I didn't like was that the ending which was kind of rushed, if not for that it would have been a perfect movie (for what it is). 9.6/10. Expand
  9. Feb 24, 2013
    The believability of the stupidity of these characters makes the whole script loose credibility. Other than that there were some entertaining characters and plot development.
  10. Sep 28, 2012
    An effective little movie with a big message on corporate compliance and the choices made to do the right thing. Call it "Do the Right Thing" at an Ohio chicken shack, based on a true story. Go into it not knowing a thing and you'll have the best experience. If you're infuriated by how gullible some people, remind yourself this really did happen. Several walked out of my showing because it was a bit too much to believe. Expand
  11. Sep 1, 2014
    A fresh and gripping thriller that is intriguing from the very beginning. Performances from Ann Dowd and Dreama Walker allow this small film to soar high.
  12. Aug 31, 2012
    Compliance is a small movie that's saying a lot more than some of the biggest, high budget films being released. It is psychologically driven and gives much insight into how and why an ordinary individual can be blindly driven to do unspeakable things, by those in the authority (or at least those they believe is an authority figure). It is filled with excellent, naturalistic performances (particularly from lead actress Ann Dowd), which were essential in keeping the viewers engaged in such minimalism. The movie is tense and the director slowly, yet appropriately eases us into the tension, one step at a time. Compliance is a very good piece of independent cinema that I highly recommend, and hope doesn't go unnoticed. Expand
  13. Mar 8, 2013
    Compliance is the chilling true story of a young fast food worker who is accused of stealing from one of the restaurants patrons. A phone call is made to the restaurants manager, who is then requested to assist in the investigation. The entire story takes place within the confines of the restaurants back room. What transpires over the course of a couple of hours will have you running to the internet to see how much of this true story was fabricated for dramatic license. The answer appears to be none of it. Which is not only bewildering but also terrifying.

    For a film that is made by a relatively unknown writer and director and stars relatively unknown character actors Compliance is very well done. Zobel does a good job of giving us a sense of the environment that the characters reside in through subtle static shots. We are also given short glimpses into the characters lives which is allows for us to connect with them enough to be invested in the outcome of the story. This becomes very important as the story builds, and most of the characters become unsympathetic. Zobel also does a nice job of building the tension and drama in the movie. If you read about these events separate of the film you will have a hard time believing that any human could ever be so ignorant as these characters. However the events are a slow burn and Zobel does a great job of illustrating this. You will still be left shaking your head, but the events do seem more plausible as presented here.

    While Compliance is not a life altering movie it is very well done and worth your time. Compliance is a story that evokes sympathy, anger, and bewilderment all at once. That is a story worth telling.
  14. Feb 5, 2013
    It is what a contemporary drama film should be: carefully paced, slowly revealing, supported by strong performances and effective score. However, it lacks deeper and much more involved analysis of the problem especially since the story is based on actual events. The film barely elaborates on the issue presented. This means that, besides some questions arising at the very end, the film and most of the time relies on depiction and the potent shock value such visual suggestions contain. Expand
  15. Feb 25, 2013
    Compliance is just about one of the most abhorrent films I've ever seen.

    In 2007, there were 70 exceptional cases were reported across to the American Police department. While they all had their own, unsettling idiosyncrasies, they were all loosely connected by subterfuge and prank calls. This is no Steve Penk or The Jerky Boys, but real vile cases of human maltreatment.

    It's an
    extraordinary topic that is crying out to be debunked in an explorative, Errol Morris style documentary. Compliance isn't that film.

    Writer/director Craig Zobel decides to focus this seeming pandemic on one exceptional example, based on a mélange of different real cases to make one mega-horrific fictional one. It's just another regular day at an Ohio fast food chain, until a meticulous prank caller convinces the restaurant manager (Ann Dowd) that one of her employees Becky, Gossip Girl's Dreama Walker, is being accused of stealing from a customer. What proceeds is a manipulating interrogation, where everyone idly agrees to whatever increasingly insane task the caller will have them do. Why? Without proving any of his credentials, the prank caller deceives everyone involved into believing that he is a police officer, and thus establishing his unobjectionable authority. By Compliance's nasty end, Becky is naked, humiliated, and sexually violated, and the audience are accomplices; watching on through guarded eyes and clenched fists.

    Even though the story comes from a bastardised real place, Zobel really pushes the boundaries of plausibility. Not in a "stranger than fiction" way, but rather because the characterisation, narrative, and Zobel's misguided compulsion to tell it, is shallow. The ninety minute running time lingers for what feels like days and, whilst the repetitious sequences are relatively tame and implicit, it all feels incredibly ugly and exploitative; as if Zobel is forcing the audience to watch a security camera.

    At it's most tenuous, one could wring-out a slapdash argument that the film is forcing the audience to look at this injustice like a reflexive meta-narrative, like Haneke's Funny Games. Unlike the unflinchingly austere Austrian, Zobel lacks directorial flare and balls to actually critique or comment on the true events and populace servility to the law.

    Even when the film was snapped up at the Sundance Film Festival last year, it was met with notoriety, with walkouts and boos. Later, in a public Q&A, Zobel plainly admitted that the film is misogynistic. But for what reason? Zobel is trying to be forthright and polemical with Compliance, but simply projecting these images isn't enough to warrant a political license. An artless, meaningless, pseudo-video nasty that doesn't earn the discomfort it will leave you with.

    My full review, and other things, right here:
  16. Mar 3, 2013
    I want to start by saying that it would behoove a few of you to do some research regarding the film's claim "based on true events" that we see before the first frame. Unfortunately for this movie, that claim has been perverted over the years, to the point where it hardly means anything. It's gotten to the point where "professional" reviewers don't even bother researching the claim before saying slyly cynical things like "According to the filmmakers, the events in the film were inspired by..." That's from the Miami Herald, whose review of the film translated into a 25/100 on metacritic. Compared to the "based on true events" claims that too many movies make, Compliance is a near verbatim account of a true story that happened in a McDonalds in Mount Washington, KY. I'll provide naysayers with a link at the bottom of this review, to save you the two minutes of research it took me to find. I have a problem with people being blatantly unwilling to look in the mirror, refusing to acknowledge that every single one of us has the capacity, under the right circumstances, to do awful things. From what I've read, the negative reviews I've seen illustrate this kind of self-delusional ignorance. These things happened. As a film, Compliance is solid. The acting is natural, and in some cases, beautifully harrowing. The same can be said for the score. For me, the restraint with which the filmmakers and actors treated such an explosive, horrifying situation served to create an unbelievable amount of tension. As for the script, it's a very difficult feat to make the characters' actions and reactions seem plausible in a situation like this, especially when even our greatest minds have failed to understand just how the appearance of authority can make us do such awful things. But it happened, and I think instead of faulting the filmmakers for "creating" "stupid characters," we should adopt a more honest approach. Spoiler alert if you read this article, you will know everything that happened in the movie. Thanks for reading. Expand
  17. Jan 25, 2013
    Before you immediately write the characters off as "stupid" and view them as faceless teenagers mirroring those in a horror movie, where every decision is questionable, what would you do? Would you have been smarter? Would you not have been distracted by the abundance of customers waiting in line and the short of employees behind the counter? Oh, how easy it would've been to just comply with authority and not risk jeopardizing your business's reputation or employees. Sandra clearly just wants to obey authority and get things sorted out as quickly and as painlessly as possible. Before criticizing her, I can not say that I blame her or I would've done any differently. Expand
  18. Nov 9, 2013
    Violent in the worst way, dirty, shameful, heavy, even than never, do not expose anything. And what makes 'Compliance' a masterpiece is that all is grasped, digested and used in some way.
  19. Mar 10, 2013
    To actually find out that when this film says based on true events it really means it, makes me feel even more
    disturbed. I shutter to think that a person could be manipulated that badly.
  20. Jun 18, 2013
    I had heard of the event that this film is based on a number of times when it happened but only put it off as just another news story. Just something that happened in the world that the newsroom needed to fill up their air time. I didn’t give it much thought until I saw this movie and realized just how horrific and diabolical this event really was.

    The film begins in the setting of a
    fast food joint where our victims work. It just happened to be the day where business is buzzing, as it is on every Friday, and the establishment is low on bacon. Now, with a movie like this where you already know the outcome, these opening scenes are eerie. They show the characters in their most pleasant state, unknowingly waiting for their doom as it descends ever so slowly upon them. You are left waiting for the first movie to be made and it’s nerve-racking. You see the clerks working as the hours go by when the manager, Sandra, picks up the phone and to her surprise, it’s Officer Daniels on the other line asking about Becky, the cashier at the establishment. You probably already know this, but Officer Daniels is actually a prank caller posing as a police officer for his own sick pleasure. It seems that Becky has stolen some money from a woman while on the job. Becky denies this accusation, but the police say otherwise and make Sandra and several others interrogate Becky through sexual and occasionally violent means. The rest of the movie is just event after event of this “police officer” playing these people like puppets and each situation is more gruesome than the one before.

    I will come out and say it now; Compliance is not an easy ride. It is not an easy subject to handle and although it’s not graphic, it is gruesome. This person for reasons unknown puts people in a situation where they are literally questioning what’s real and what’s not, then out of utter confusion they turn to the one person who is restoring order and that’s the person they suspect is a police officer, but he’s the one forming the confusion in the first place. He is playing these people like puppets, mocking them as they go through with whatever he tells them to do. It’s disgusting and just plain strange, but this is where this movie gets its true strength. It takes this short event and stretches it to the point where you are seeing these situations through the victim’s eyes and it’s unnerving in the way films like The Shining and The Silence of the Lambs are.

    Compliance is a claustrophobic experience that has a unique and powerful aspect to be both uncomfortable and compelling all at the same time. It is uncomfortable to watch, and that’s just one great thing about this movie. It digs to the base of human nature during a situation like this. The characters begin to not only question the people around them, but also question their own beliefs just because of a prank call got too out of hand. How would you react during a situation like this? Everyone has their own way of coping during something like this and this film captures the very base of that complex and enthralling mechanism and it is terrifying.
  21. Dec 4, 2013
    The characters' idiocy is so nail-bitingly frustrating that I found myself looking up the details of the actual story to keep myself entertained, only to find the events are a sequentially accurate recount of what actually occurred. This turned the film from 'ridiculous' to 'utterly compelling'. The film is overly-long, and there's certainly not an hour and a half's worth of story here, but as a competent docu-drama it makes great watching. Expand

Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 32
  2. Negative: 4 out of 32
  1. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Sep 21, 2012
    The movie even fails on a psychological level, never illustrating how, in a pressure-cooker environment and swept up by mob-think mentality, we are capable of committing acts that innately repel us.
  2. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Sep 20, 2012
    Zobel isn't a sadist about all of this as, say, Roman Polanski or David Lynch or Todd Solondz might have been. There's a humanity here, even for the restaurant manager. But that still doesn't make Compliance easy to ingest.
  3. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Sep 6, 2012
    It makes you think. And that's invaluable.