The appeal of movies like Ted and The Avengers, two of the summer’s biggest financial successes, is rather obvious. Is there ever a time when it's not right to turn your brain off, laugh hysterically, and/or bask in high-stakes action, heroics, and expensive special effects? Comedies and lighthearted superhero flicks will never go out of fashion, since the range of audiences partial to those kinds of films is all-encompassing.
As for movies like Kill List, the incredibly downbeat and shocking hitman horror movie from British filmmaker Ben Wheatley (released in January), the target demographic is much smaller—as in, people who’ll voluntarily subject themselves to horrific, mental scarring imagery and concepts. Yet, when done properly, edgier cinema can be just as rewarding as more inviting genres; then again, it can also repel eyes faster than Monique in a G-string.
Compliance, the hot-button indie drama from writer-director Craig Zobel (in limited theaters today), definitely falls in the latter category. It’s a tightly made but squirmy character study about a fast food restaurant’s manager (Ann Dowd) who’s fooled by a prank caller and forces one of her employees (Dreama Walker) to strip down for search in a back room. And that’s just the beginning of the movie’s downward spiral of violation, humiliation, and “What would you do?” paranoia.
For all of the discomfort of its nude scenes, though, Compliance still falls way short of the hard-to-watch flicks included on our list of The 50 Most Disturbing Movies. See for yourselves, if you dare.