By Andrew Wolfson, USA TODAY
LOUISVILLE -- A movie based on a hoax that led to a strip search at a local McDonald's loyally reflects the ordeal suffered by minimum-wage worker
but portrays her in a less-than-sympathetic light
An advance copy of Compliance provided to The Courier-Journal shows the movie version - while set at a fictional Chickwich restaurant in Ohio - almost precisely tracks Ogborn's detention and humiliating sexual ordeal on April 19, 2004, in Bullitt County.
The 90-minute movie, which has received largely positive reviews, opens Friday at theaters in Louisville and Mount Washington, Ky
. - about 2½ miles from where Ogborn was stripped naked and held for more than three hours on orders of a man who called the restaurant pretending to be a police officer.
The movie by director Craig Zobel says during the opening credits that it was "based on real events," but the plot and script match nearly verbatim what occurred in the store, according to police reports, court transcripts and a security video.
The biggest deviation is the depiction of the caller, who is shown orchestrating the events from the dining room of his home and is identified as a call-center employer.
Police and prosecutors alleged that the real-life hoax was executed by a private prison guard who lived in the Florida Panhandle and made the call from a public telephone on the side of the road.
In reality, Ogborn cried hysterically and appeared terrified, according to the surveillance video and other records, while the movie character, as portrayed by actress Dreama Walker - who has starred in the sitcom Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23- is sullen and annoyed.
In the movie "Becky," as played by Walker, couldn't explain why she went along with the demands to remove her clothes.
In reality, Ogborn explained that she couldn't afford to lose her $6.35-an-hour job because her mother had just lost hers, and she begged not to be strip-searched at the restaurant.
"I was bawling my eyes out and literally begging them to take me to the police station, because I didn't do anything wrong," Ogborn said in a deposition in a lawsuit against McDonald's, from whom she won a $6.1 million judgment.
Ogborn, who lives in Taylorsville, Ky., declined to respond to a request for her comments on the movie.
Her lawyer, Ann Oldfather, said she didn't have time to watch it Friday. But she said watching a two-minute preview was "extremely upsetting."
"I know what Louise went through, and to see it played out on the big screen for commercial exploitation is profoundly unsettling," Oldfather said. "Louise, (McDonald's Assistant Manager) Donna Summers and indeed all of the McDonald's employees were manipulated once by this caller, and are now being exploited by a director who wants to make his name, and a movie company selling 'entertainment.' "
Danielle McCarthy, a spokeswoman for Magnolia Pictures, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Rotten Tomatoes, the movie website, calls Compliance a "ripped-from-the-headlines thriller that's equal parts gripping and disturbing" and says that it has received a 90% positive rating from critics, although a somewhat lower 76% from audiences.
David Denby in The New Yorker called Compliance "brilliant," saying Zobel and his cast "discovered something cold in the human heart and found an effortlessly expressive way of dramatizing it."
The New York Post gave it its highest rating, four stars, calling it "depressing, infuriating - and important."
But even critics who have praised it say it is hard to watch.
Time magazine called it "the year's squirmiest movie," while Richard Corliss, its critic, said it is "a tough sit" and likened it to "a haunted house ride that takes place inside your skull."
's Ann Hornaday gave it only two stars, saying the casting of the "curvy, preternaturally camera-ready Walker" blurred the "troubling boundary between abhorring her humiliation and engaging in it."
"Compliance puts its characters and viewers through a perverse, even sadistic, kind of hell and the audience is entitled to ask toward what end," she said.
The movie tracks the account first offered in October 2005 in The Courier-Journal.
The story described how Ogborn, a high school senior and former Girl Scout, who had just turned 18 and hadn't received a single admonition in four months at her job at McDonald's, suddenly became a suspect when a man who called himself "Officer Scott" called and said an employee had been accused of stealing a purse from a customer.
The caller, using a combination of threats and flattery, persuaded Summers to strip-search Ogborn in the restaurant's office and take away her clothes and car keys.
In both the real-life and movie version, the caller said he had a McDonald's regional manager on the other line, and he was able to name him.
The story - and movie - detail how Summers, on a busy Friday night, called in her fiance, Walter Nix, to watch Ogborn, and how at the caller's request, he made her do jumping jacks to try to shake loose missing change, then spanked her and made her perform oral sex.
The scheme unraveled only after a handyman came in and refused to follow the caller's orders.
"He is asking me to do things that aren't right," the maintenance man, named Harold in the movie, tells the manager.
In real life, Summers was fired and was placed on a year's probation for unlawful imprisonment, while Nix was sentenced to five years for sodomy and other crimes.
The alleged caller, who police say made similar calls to more than 70 stores in 30 states, lost his prison job but was acquitted on charges of soliciting sodomy and impersonating a police officer.
The movie offers little explanation for why nearly everyone involved followed orders so slavishly, although in an interview with a TV reporter, the manager said, "I did what I was told."
A police officer investigating the hoax in the movie says that he can't understand why everybody went along.
"What did they put in that chicken that made everybody lose their (expletive) minds?" he asks.
Andrew Wolfson also writes for The (Louisville) Courier-Journal.