If several people witness an isolated incident they will all have different recollections of what actually happened. That forms the core of the powerful button-pushing Compliance. A prank caller talks unsuspecting small town managers of fast food establishments to strip search employees by convincing them they are police detectives.

The experience of watching Compliance was one of the most intense movie going encounters I’ve had all year. I was completely riveted until the end and at times angry at the way characters reacted to the situation. When you read about the actual events that inspired the movie, and if you see the film you will look up the various crimes and court cases on the internet, you will be blown away by the fact that everything depicted in Compliance is based on occurrences as taken from transcripts of criminal and civil court cases.

Compliance has a gritty independent mood, populated with actors most people won’t be familiar with. Dreama Walker is in a television show and Ann Dowd and Pat Healy (The Innkeepers) have been small supporting players in bigger films, but here they totally own the screen. Seeing Compliance is like a litmus test of your own ability to discern reality. Compliance opens this weekend at the Sundance Cinemas Houston.

— Michael Bergeron