A cornerstone story aspect of the thriller, codified on film by Alfred Hitchcock, is fear of persecution. Hitch was famously afraid of police, and a constant element in his films was the horror of being pursued and/or persecuted for an infraction real or imagined. The Law — the “capital-L” version — can seem like an unfathomable force that guides our behavior, and the persuasive power of that force can make one feel incredibly vulnerable.

The power of that particular perception of Law is at the heart of Compliance, too. The indie became notorious at Sundance this past January for expanding on real-life stories in which an anonymous caller impersonated police officers and talked business managers into strip-searching and violating employees. The instigating factor would be a reported infraction of the law, with the caller reasoning that the fastest way to deal with the situation was for the manager to do some of the work of the cops before officers were able to arrive. Inevitably, the caller would push the situation deep into scary territory, and those on the other end of the line would comply.

The real-life stories are chilling, in part because it is horrifying to consider that anyone would follow the instructions of someone who purports to be a law officer without attempting to verify the caller’s identity. Compliance seems to exploit that horrifying behavior quite well, and now you can get a glimpse of just how weird things get in a new trailer for the movie. Read More »

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