Let’s call a spade a spade: this movie (in theatres now!) will anger the fudge out of you. No joke, from about 20 minutes in until nearly the end you will hate almost every character on screen and be pleading for something, anything to happen that will interrupt the unnatural progression of awful events you’ll be force to witness. I won’t ruin anything that the trailer won’t give away by saying this movie follows the story of an accused fast food cashier- played by the doe eyed and well cast Dreama Walker- and her surrounding staff and superior who “follow orders” and torture the girl to horrific ends.
No this movie isn’t based in the 80s when people “were dumber” or in some small city with people that act nothing like you and I as “reasonable people”: instead, it uses accurate characters placed in a complicated and atypical situation and watches them as they react accordingly. Now, I use the word accordingly here very carefully. As a student of psychology, I’m all too well aware of the famous Stanley Milgram study from Yale in 1963 wherein he had everyday test subjects zapping likable partners in an adjoining room every time they made a mistake in a learning test. I’m simplifying things (look it up, it’s worth a read) but the gist is that 100% of the subjects electrified their partners till it started to hurt and beyond and a terrifying 65% never stopped as the voltage got higher all because there was an experimenter there “ordering them to do so”. This movie takes this sad truth of our psyches and throws it in our face as we beg the movie’s characters to WAKE THE F UP.
Dreama Walker- of Gossip Girl and The Good Wife fame- has until now predominantly filled the TV screen as a sneaky, pretty teen but smartly cuts her teeth on this gritty indie and proves herself to be much more than just a blond with a big chest (though, holy crap does she have a big chest- I can say that as a gay man). While Dreama is about the only character you’ll see yourself in- and even then you’d love to believe you’d be more stubborn than she is- until the final scenes, you will focus your attention on the tortured assistant manager whose opting for ignorance is so sincere that you’ll hate her and yourself for admitting you can understand even for a second how she makes her decisions.
The acting is realistic, the story is something you pray not possible (though the final credits and reported statistics tell otherwise) but the film itself overall is worth the view. I’ve watched Texas Chainsaw without looking away but there’s something about the gritty realism of this tale that will have you wanting to look away more than a few times. The ending isn’t at all unsatisfying (you’ll even gain back some love for the short-changed cashier) so if that’s important to you then I’ll say for sure sit through this and maybe take away the message that we aren’t all as independent as strong as we’d love to believe we are. That authority isn’t to be followed without conscience. And, that basic human rights are about the only things that keep us just that: human.