The Disney+ True Crime Thriller Is Too Shocking To Believe But It Really Happened

By Charlene Badasie | Published

The 2012 psychological thriller Compliance is available to stream in the Hulu section of Disney+. The movie, written and directed by Craig Zobel, explores the shocking actual events that led to a disturbing incident at a fast-food restaurant. The cast includes Ann Dowd as Sandra, Dreama Walker as Becky, Pat Healy as Officer Daniels, and Bill Camp as Van.

A Story Of Manipulation And Assault

Compliance is set in a fictional fast-food restaurant where the manager, Sandra, receives a call from someone claiming to be police officer. Identifying himself as Officer Daniels, the man convinces Sandra that he’s investigating a theft and instructs her to detain an employee named Becky. Trusting in the supposed officer’s authority, Sandra does as she is told.Daniels, maintaining control over the situation through the phone, instructs Sandra to subject Becky to increasingly invasive searches. The tension in Compliance escalates as Daniels manipulates Sandra into conducting a strip search, which leads to Becky being forced into increasingly degrading acts, including sexual assault.

Officer Daniels True Identity Revealed

The manipulation extends to other employees, creating a distressing atmosphere within the restaurant. Toward the end of Compliance, Sandra calls the regional manager, who is unaware of any investigation. The actual police discover that a similar crime was committed elsewhere, and Officer Daniels is revealed to be a family man working as a telemarketer.

Becky explores legal options against Sandra, who, now unemployed and isolated, portrays herself as an innocent victim to the media. Compliance is a frightening retelling of the consequences of blind obedience and the vulnerability of individuals under the influence of authority.

Difficult To Watch For Some

Compliance premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and generated significant buzz for its unsettling premise. Moments after the screening concluded, a woman voiced her displeasure with the film using violence against women as a source of entertainment. The sentiment found support in a scattering of applause before she was booed.

While Compliance received praise from critics for its provocative storytelling and the performances of the cast, some viewers found the film difficult to watch due to its uncomfortable scenes. As a result, the movie did not achieve widespread commercial success, earning just $592,116 at the global box office. Its controversial content likely contributed to its limited mainstream appeal.

Based On Real Events

The strip search phone call scam on which Compliance is based unfolded over ten years. It began in 1994 and primarily affected rural areas across the United States. This disturbing series of incidents involved a perpetrator, often targeting fast-food restaurants, posing as a police officer. The impostor would then manipulate managers into conducting strip searches on employees.The most troubling occurrence, recounted in Compliance, took place at a McDonald’s in Mount Washington, Kentucky, in 2004, where an assistant manager subjected a young employee to abuse at the behest of a fake police officer.

David Richard Stewart, a Florida resident, was arrested for the crime. But despite evidence such as phone cards linked to some of the scam calls found at his residence, he was ultimately acquitted of all charges related to the Mount Washington case.

Stream Compliance Under Disney+’s Hulu Section

To watch Compliance through the Disney+ Hulu section, which is still in its beta version, viewers will need a subscription to both services.