LOS ANGELES (AP) — “Compliance” is the rare film that’s caused me to do a total 180 on how I feel about it.
The psychological thriller about a fast-food manager (Ann Dowd) instructed by a prank phone caller (Pat Healy) to lead a young, female employee (Dreama Walker) through a series of increasingly degrading investigative steps made me squirm in frustration as I was watching it. I knew it was based on true events, but was incredulous that any situation could get this far. How stupid can people be? I wondered.
But the more I thought about it, the more impressed I found myself with the mastery of tension and tone writer-director Craig Zobel displayed, and with the precise performances he drew from his actors. “Compliance” stuck with me, challenged me and changed my mood in a way most films don’t, and it’s been prompting similarly strong and sometimes vocal responses from audiences since its Sundance premiere.
As the film expands this week, Zobel was nice enough to pick five of his own favorite psychological thrillers. Here he is, in his own words:
— “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991): This film is an amazing blend of creepy and tense that makes me hold my breath no matter how many times I watch it. The performances and filmmaking are all just amazing. And the script— with Clarice, its complex protagonist, and its twin monsters of Lecter and Jame Gumb — is really impeccable. One of those rare films that totally surpasses its source novel. If you haven’t seen it recently, find it and watch it again. It not only holds up, but I pretty much guarantee it’ll be one of the creepiest and best films you’ve seen.
— “Repulsion” (1965): Which Polanski? “Knife In The Water” quickly jumps to mind. But remember that part in “Repulsion” where Catherine Deneuve’s sister has gone on vacation with her married boyfriend, and the dude has accidentally left one of his shirts in their apartment? And how Deneuve takes the shirt of the philanderer and just smells it for a long time? What a weird way to react to someone you hate. Add the fact that she wanders around with a dead rabbit in her purse for half the movie, and you’ve gotta put that on the list.
— “The Conversation” (1974): I love “The Conversation.” This movie rocked me the first time I saw it. Gene Hackman plays a man so sure of what he knows, that his mind (and apartment) becomes entirely dismantled as he finds out the lesson of “assume nothing.” I also love how it’s basically a faithful remake of Antonioni’s “Blow Up.” But rainier.
— “Don’t Look Now” (1973): For people who only like things that make complete sense, maybe this isn’t the first movie on this list you should watch. But Nicolas Roeg’s deconstructed, fractured editing is at its best here, and Donald Sutherland is at his most moody/cool. If psychological thrillers are all about tone, this film is the definition of foreboding. It also makes a terrifying case for not allowing any short people to ever wear red hoodies.
— “Rear Window” (1954): You could basically do a list of psychological thrillers where it was just all Hitchcock. Talk about a dude’s bread and butter. But man, was he great at it. However, I sorta feel like “Rear Window” is unique — its structure is so simple yet tense — that its influence can be felt in almost all examples of the genre to follow it.
Think of any other examples? Share them with AP Movie Critic Christy Lemire through Twitter: http://twitter.com/christylemire
And with Craig Zobel on Twitter: http://twitter.com/craigzobel
More Related Stories
- Justin Timberlake: I'm a mediocre folk singer!
- Ray Manzarek, founding member of The Doors, dies at 74
- Beware of book blurbs
- Did a Salon excerpt ruin Penn Jillette's chance to win "Celebrity Apprentice"?
- Zach Galifianakis to take formerly homeless woman to "Hangover 3" premiere
- Seth MacFarlane will not host Oscars again
- "SNL's" uncomfortable Garner/Affleck moment
- "Celebrity Apprentice" finale ratings hit a new low
- Worst National Anthem fails
- The truth in Kanye's anti-prison rap
- Stephen Colbert to UVA: "You must always make the path for yourself"
- "Game of Thrones," season 3, episode 8: A salon
- Bieber booed, Miguel falls on fan at Billboard Awards
- "Mad Men" recap: Love, acid and whores. Lots of whores
- Taylor Swift leads Billboard winners
- “Game of Thrones” recap: “We must do our duty”
- "The Unwinding": What's gone wrong with America
- Michael J. Fox wins: The best and worst of the new fall shows
- First look: The Coens' marvelous folk-music odyssey
- New York's most persecuted subway artist?
- James Franco: "I really felt I was in conversation with Faulkner"
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11