“What Would You Do?”
September 1st, 2012
!!! Warning. Since this is based on an recent actual event there will be some spoilers, so don't say I didn't warn you.!!!
Have you ever gotten a prank call at home or work? Did they pretend to be some kind of authoritative person? A superior where your work or the police, and if they told you to do something did you do it. That is essentially what is going on in Compliance except it delves deeper into the darker side of human nature. What I and many people probably won't before seeing this movie is it is very closely based on a true story. It happened only a few years ago. As most of you know there are obviously scammers and prank callers operating all the time. Well in the mid-1990's to 2004 there was a prank calling, calling restaurants, fast food restaurants and grocery stores in rural parts of the country claiming to be a detective for the police. The man then convinces managers or whoever in charge to commit acts, like forcing female employee's to strip and do strip searches, confining them and other things. The incident the film is based on and the one that got the prank caller arrested happened in 2004 in Mount Washington, Kentucky at a McDonald's. The caller who is a man called the McDonald's during the night shift and got the assistant manager Donna Summers. He managed to convince her he was a detective with the police. He then told her that one of her female employee's is believed to have stolen money. He describes what Donna believes is Louise Ogborn one of the employee's on duty. The man says there are no officer's available to come out and needed her help. During the night Donna would confine Louise, take her car keys and wallet, force her to strip and while Donna is away Louis would be sexually assaulted. The guy was only caught because the maintenance worker Thomas Simms who refused to follow the callers demands. Donna finally decided to call her boss, who the detective said he had been on the phone earlier with. When she got in touch with the manager, the manager said he had been asleep and had never talked to the police. Donna quickly tried to star 69 the caller, but he hung up. The man was David R. Stewart who was married with five children. He was caught through tracing the phone calls he made, and the purchasing of prepaid phones. The incident is disturbing enough, but what happens after could be more disturbing. Steward was tried, but was acquitted. Why because there was no real evidence. Sure he made the calls, but he didn't force anyone to do anything. Steward wasn't holding a gun to anyone's head Donna and managers at the other places he called all willing did what he asked. It's really is disturbing incident, especially that a married man with five children would do this.
The story is gripping and riveting, but some people may find it hard to believe that people would easily believe someone over the phone claiming to be a police officer and doing the things like what Donna did. Especially if the people watching it don't know that it actually happened only a few years ago. I had a little trouble believing the story as well. I believe I wouldn't do what the characters did in the film or what actually happened, but I can't understand nothing like that has happened like that to me, so who knows. You also have to remember that human beings in general are followers who easily take orders and are controlled treating others badly, killing, raping and going to war just because we are told to. The story stays really close to actually what happened. Only the names changed. Like McDonald's wasn't used and the names of the characters are different. People may also not like this film because it's unflinching in the short film time in about one and a half hours. I'm sure people will find Compliance to be thrilling film that delves into the dark side of human nature and our reliance on authority figures or an unbelievable and boring film. Either way I think its good it will draw attention to the incident that I had no idea that happened, and that I'm sure few others did as well and that things like this still happen today.
The acting is perhaps the best part of the film. Ann Dowd (Sandra) plays the character based on Donna. She is gripping as the manager as she forces Becky (Dreama Walker) to do lewd acts and other things, especially the emotion on Sandra's face when she realizes it was all a prank call, and what she had done. The recognizable actor in the film for me was Dreama Walker who I recognized from Don't Trust the B---- In Apartment 23 which I like. She plays Beck the character based on Louise Ogborn. Dreama is compelling as Becky as she is threatened and force by the Officer Daniels (Pat Healy: The prank caller) and her boss Sandra surrender her keys strip and do other things. Dreama effortlessly displays the confusion, hurt, fear, sadness and shock that her character goes through the night. Bill Camp plays Van Sandra's fiancé who is reluctantly brought into the mess by Sandra, and Pat Healy plays the prank caller who does a brilliant job, as you are shown shots of him relaxing in his home with not a care in the world or showing any remorse at what he was getting these people to do.
Whether you know of the incident or not I highly recommend the film to draw your attention to the topic and themes. Overall Compliance is a great film, with excellent acting by the small cast along with a great story that is closely based on an actually event, and is one of the best films of the year. Also seeing the film will draw your attention to Dreama Walker who has shown her comedic ability in Apartment 23 and shows her dramatic acting ability in Compliance.