Director Craig Zobel doesn’t look like the kind of man capable of making a movie so disgusting and uncomfortable that it would drive people from the theater. He’s lanky, sweet and unassuming. Hell, he was a co-founder of millennial Flash sensation Homestar Runner! But at last night’s Psychology Today and Peggy Siegal Company screening of Mr. Zobel’s latest film at the IFC Center, Compliance, all that seemed secondary.
No fewer than eight people walked out. One woman across the aisle from us shouted, “Give me a fucking break! This is a fucking joke!” before indignantly slinging her tote bag over an irate shoulder and storming out.
During Compliance’s grueling 90 minutes, Becky, a 19-year-old “Chick-Wich” fast food worker is stripped nude, debased for hours, and ultimately sexually assaulted. It’s a lot to deal with. Folks laughed incredulously and shifted uncomfortably in their seats, all of which was in keeping with Compliance’s tense Sundance reception. Pre-screening, Mr. Zobel told us, “I was very scared about the movie, I think as much as an actor who would want to do any of the roles. It did not come easy to me, but I felt like there was so much to talk about.”