by Jake Peffer
Compliance stars Ann Dowd (Side Effects) as Sandra, a fast food manager who receives a very disturbing call at work. A police officer is on the other end claiming that one of her workers, Becky (Dreama Walker), stole money from a woman’s purse. We find out that this man really isn’t a police officer and is prank calling this restaurant. Sandra never once questions that this man isn’t a police officer and is willing to do anything he says, which results in some uncomfortable situations.
When watching Compliance one could easily point out a lot of decisions characters make as ridiculous. Normally I would too, except that this film is based on a true story and everything in it is almost one hundred percent true. For over a decade a man played this prank on over 70 different restaurants until he was finally found and arrested in 2004. Compliance takes a look at what happened during most of these calls and, for the most part, succeeds in making a tense film.
Most of what works here are the performances. Ann Dowd is great as the troubled manager who questions many things the “officer” tells her to do but does them anyway because she believes he really is a police officer. Dreama Walker also does a good job playing the accused worker. Her character goes through quite a lot and I thought she handled the role quite admirably. The only other member of the cast who is given a lot to do is the supposed officer himself who is played by Pat Healy (Rescue Dawn). Healy is great as the prank caller and gives off a real creepy vibe with his character.
Aside from the performances there isn’t much else to praise. While the writing and direction are both quite good the film does suffer from pacing problems. Things do get going real quick but start to slow down after a while and then it just feels like we’re waiting around for something new to happen. Another thing is that the story feels a little too stretched out. There are a lot of moments where things get repeated, only with different characters, and while I’m sure that may be how it really happened it just doesn’t translate well to the screen. It really felt like it could have been over in about 45 minutes.
Verdict: Compliance features a couple of great performances from it’s main actors, good writing and direction but the story feels stretched out to try and make it last an hour and a half. The pace is slow but when things start to get tense you won’t be able to take your eyes off the screen.