Director Craig Zobel’s newest film, “Compliance,” explores why humans are so likely to do what they’re told, especially if they’ve got an authority figure calling the shots. Based on true events, the film takes place at a fictional fast food restaurant, ChickWich. Its manager (played by Ann Dowd) receives a call from a man identifying himself as a police officer, who claims that one of the restaurant’s employees (played by Dreama Walker) stole money from a customer. The man on the phone proceeds to give the manager instructions for interrogating her young employee. The instructions are invasive and inappropriate, but the manager follows them nonetheless.
The phenomenon of compliance with authority figures, even when it’s against one’s judgment and conscience, was studied most famously by the Milgram Experiment. In that study, a researcher asked people to act as teachers, and give what they believed to be electric shocks to their “students” when they made a mistake. The voltage of the supposed shock was increased throughout the experiment, and more than half of the test subjects gave their students a painful, high-voltage shock, even though it was against their conscience to do so. The Milgram experiment was inspired by the compliance of Nazi soldiers with their orders during the Holocaust.
“Compliance” will open in select theaters on the 17th and nationwide on Aug. 24th. Check out the trailer below, and do not miss this riveting, strange, and fascinating flick.