Have you ever done something somebody asked you to do without thinking about it first? Has there ever been a time when you simply followed directions (orders?) without questioning why?


Those are questions that occurred to me as I re-watched a movie I saw for the first time in 2013. It's called Compliance, and it's just as bone-chilling now as it was then.


The film is set in a fast food restaurant in Ohio on a busy Friday night. The place is slammed, and the manager, naturally, has her hands full corralling workers and making sure customers are happy. What she didn't plan on was being the unwitting accomplice in an elaborate and sick prank. She receives a call from one of the perpetrators posing as a police officer. He tells her that one of her employees, a young woman, stole money from a customer. And to back it up, he claims that customer is right there with him, along with the restaurant's district manager.

While the restaurant manager is on the phone, the girl in question enters her office where she is asked to remain while her purse and pockets are searched. Nothing is found, so the "cop" asks the manager to strip-search the employee, rationalizing that it would be easier if she just did it there. That way, this whole thing could be taken care of much more quickly.

Needless to say, the manager is reluctant to do something like this, but she does it anyway. Making matters worse, more intense, and more frightening is the request from the prank perpetrator to have the girl remove her underwear after the strip search came up empty.

Meanwhile, we all know this girl is innocent.

The escalation toward a horrifying conclusion is exacerbated by a third party, as requested by the man on the phone. Also, as the night gets busier, the manager must leave the girl WITH another employee.

It's not what I'd call a horror movie in the truest sense of the word, but I was more disturbed than I have been with most other horror movies I've seen...even after the second viewing.

If you had no idea this is something that actually happened, you'd find the movie preposterous. Surely, no one would EVER comply to the commands given to this woman.


But that's what happened at a McDonald's in 2004 in Mount Washington, and it's the source material for this underrated shocker.

In the actual incident, it was an assistant manager, but the rest of the movie is practically letter for letter how it happened. What followed was a trial and then massive lawsuits. This report looks back at that harrowing night. And while it contains no graphic imagery or language, it's very disturbing nonetheless:

A 2022 Netflix docuseries, Don't Pick Up the Phone, also covers the terrifying story.

Compliance currently streams for free on Pluto TV and the Roku Channel.

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