Zobel shoots his queasy little psych test with I'm-just-the-messenger documentary neutrality, challenging as he goes: Do you want to look away now? How about now? Will you walk out?
Snapshots of greasy fries and slimy grills pump up the unsavory atmosphere, while Heather McIntosh's ominous, cello-driven score plucks our nerves and stirs our stomachs.
Too condescending to be trusted, too manipulative to be believed, too turgid to be enjoyed, too shameless to be endured and, before and after everything else, too inept to make its misanthropic case.
Compliance is one of the toughest sits of the movie year 2012. But it's an uncompromising and, in its way, honorable drama built upon a prank call that goes on and on, getting worse and worse for the people on the other end of the line.
A harrowing, gut-wrenching fable about power and authority that shows that even the most well-adjusted, ordinary person could be tempted to degrade and dehumanize their neighbor.
Zobel's masterful direction and screenplay heighten the distress of authority figures possessing unseen persuasion over naive employees, exposing a disturbing and haunting look at what some workers are willing to do in order to follow orders.
In taut, gripping and deeply disturbing fashion, writer-director Craig Zobel measures the depths to which rational individuals will sink to obey a self-anointed authority figure in Compliance.
It's a highly political work about how some people can be made to do vile things just for the wispiest promise that the powers above will go a little bit easier on them.