Sandra thinks that she has a tough day ahead at her restaurant after she finds that the freezer had been left open and food had spoiled overnight. After a pep talk with the staff, the evening rush begins but not before Sandra receives a phone call from someone who identifies himself as the police. Officer Daniels claims that he has a woman who has reported that cashier Becky has stolen money from the woman’s purse and video surveillance has confirmed the report. Sandra gets Becky and brings her to the back of the store. While on the phone, Daniels continues to give her orders to search Becky’s possessions and eventually down to a strip search. The store continues to get busier and Sandra has to start relying on the people around her to help work with Daniels to continue his investigation.
Starring: Ann Dowd (Sandra), Dreama Walker (Becky), Pat Healy (Officer Daniels), Philip Ettinger (Kevin), Ashlie Atkinson (Marti), Nikiya Mathis (Connie), Ralph Rodriguez (Julio), Stephen Payne (Harold), Bill Camp (Van), Amelia Fowler (Brie), James McCaffrey (Detective Neals), Desmin Borges (Officer Morris)
The cast for this film is one that is raw and eerily compliant with outrageous orders. Ann Dowd comes off as an extremely innocent, responsible woman who feels compelled to respond to every request made over the phone. She portrays how the stress and lack of assurance can lead to agreeing to things one would never do under sound judgment. Walker is the standout star of the film with her emotional roller coaster from confusion to anger to apathy to deadness. Healy definitely gives a chilling portrayal of a mentally-ill manipulator.
In an attempt to portray a rather disturbing real tale of deception, Craig Zobel focuses in on one of the stories of a fast food chain that was victimized by a psychotic caller, though the employees thought it was actually a police investigation. Officer Daniels was never really an officer and had the entire restaurant fooled. When he called up Sandra and started his game, he was using a combination of past attempts and comments made by Sandra and her employees to continue to lead the group on. He almost busted the entire guise when his calling card was nearly out, but he jumped back in and was able to get the employees to go to an extreme of engaging in a strip search and sexual activities that they would normally have been able to deny.
The staff of the restaurant played into Daniels’s trap at almost every turn. Sandra was the main target, as she was convinced that she had to follow the will of this officer in the midst of a phony investigation. With an answer ready at every turn, she uncomfortably still agreed to every request until she finally spoke to the regional manager and realized that it was a ruse. In the meantime, Becky had given up her clothing and allowed multiple people to see her naked, Marti had complied with every step of the process and Sandra’s partner, Van, forced Becky into compromising sexual acts. When the ruse was finally uncovered, it destroyed the lives of all of the people involved. Sandra and Van officially split, even though they were incredibly close to engagement, Becky was emotionally traumatized and people lost their jobs.
While an interesting and gripping concept, the execution is a bit uneasy. It seems remarkable that the employees would let the unusual demands go so far without getting another police officer on scene or realizing that the commands were no longer ethical (though even the first requests with deputizing Sandra were too much).
Dan’s Rating: 2.5/5