Fast-food outlet in on-screen thriller
A new low-budget American “indie” film is based on events that happened at a McDonald’s outlet in Kentucky in 2004.
The store received a call from a man describing himself as a police officer, who then ordered the manager to confine and strip search a young female employee suspected of theft.
The call was exposed as a hoax and resulted in a $US6.1 million award against McDonald’s. But the prison officer accused of making the call was acquitted at trial.
The Huffington Post reviewer described it as a “psychological thriller grounded in an almost documentary level of reality and will probably hold up as one of the most well-paced, brilliantly acted films of the year”.
He also said it was “without a doubt, the most uncomfortable film experience of my life”.
While some critics have panned the film as exploitative, the New York Times says it “slithers rapidly from uncomfortable to unspeakable".
"And inasmuch as this level of sordidness can be handled tastefully, Zobel succeeds in expunging all titillation from [the employee’s] ordeal.”
According to film-maker Craig Zobel, the incident was said to have been repeated at least 70 other times before then and.each shared a similar pattern.
The purported officer or authority figure claimed to need help to solve a case, which required a manager to remove a female employee’s clothing and, in some cases, perform sexual acts on her.
According to the Huffington Post reviewer, the most unsettling part of Compliance “(or rather, one of about a million unsettling parts – really the whole movie is one long, unsettling part) is that, from an outsider’s perspective, the whole escalation could have easily been avoided.
"As an audience member, one knows very early on that the caller isn’t really a cop, so why doesn’t this manager know? Why does she go along with it? Why does young [employee] not resist?”
A preview screening in New York was followed by a panel discussion put on by Psychology Today to air views on why the caller succeeded in getting ordinary workers to carry orders regardless of the consequences.
• In the film the store is identified as part of a fictional “Chickwich” chain.