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Communion 1989
Description: A novelist's wife and son see him changed by an apparent encounter with aliens in the mountains.
Released: 10 Nov 1989 Director: Philippe Mora Writers: Whitley Strieber (book), Whitley Strieber (screenplay) Actors: Christopher Walken, Lindsay Crouse, Frances Sternhagen, Andreas Katsulas Genres: Biography, Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
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Communion Reviews:

In "Communion," Whitley Strieber's autobiographical ebook comes to life...sort of. Viewing this film is a strange experience, and certainly not for all tastes. It is a very cerebral piece of work from a director who did not wholeheartedly accept with Strieber's interpretation of the happenings surrounding his so-called abduction. Phillipe Mora makes an effort to give the movie an air of surrealism, right down to even having the blatant symbolism of DeChirico paintings on the walls of Strieber's home (whether or not Strieber now had such paintings is beside the point). The director tries to give the impression that Strieber is suffering a breakdown while simultaneously trying to show the happenings without too much distortion. Tough task...it's simple to see why the movie seems diluted and without chemistry.However, this also provides the movie with an atmosphere that can also support enhance the entire point, which is not "was Whitley Strieber abducted by aliens," but rather "how did Whitley's interpretation of an inexplicable happening result him and those around him?" One of the last scenes, an exchange between Strieber and his wife in a museum, conveys this mission perfectly. "It's just God, masks of God." It can be equated with a religious experience, feeling the touch of God. Strieber FELT the touch of an outside presence. Does that mean he was visited by aliens? This is irrelevant, and I firmly trust that this is what the mission of the movie could be. And let's face it, the movie is named "Communion," which means "to be at one with God."The mechanics of the movie are rather well constructed. Christopher Walken is in fine form as Strieber, giving a unbelievable portrayal of a writer on the edge (of a discovery or his sanity?). Lindsay Crouse does a nice job as Strieber's wife. The acting is slightly flat in some areas, but this might've been other device of Mora's to add to the surrealism. Constant uses of the Fresh York skyline add a sense of foreboding to the film, not just because of the beauty of these scenes, but because it supports give the impression of an outside presence. The melody (with Eric Clapton on guitar) is cute good, typical of the synthesizer-based scores of most '80's movies, but it adds well to the setting. And even though the unique results may seem laughable, Mora has made the situation (perhaps pretentiously) that this was also deliberate. The FOX TV ver (which seems to be the ver being shown on Showtime Digital Cable) adds few sequences, and increases the light contrast in certain scenes, adding a glowing white haze to many scenes. Some have complained about the stage in the psychiatrist's office being so bright, but I think it also supports receive the message that there may be an outside presence surrounding all of us, whether we recognize it or not."Communion" is an interesting film that suffered from a view that was perhaps too short-sighted. If the movie were made today, one can be sure the message might have been lost on overbloated unique effects, and the surreal result would've been diminished to appeal to the lowest common denominator of movie-going audiences. No matter what your stance on alien abduction, this is a very thought-provoking film. Give it a chance...watch it.


The movie depicts the private and professional crises a writer experiences after a series of encounters with non-human beings.The movie strongly benefits from the performances of Christopher Walken and Lindsay Crouse. Walken (always engaging) manages the challenging task of making Whitley Strieber a compelling character; you care about him even if you don't necessarily like him 100% of the time. Crouse succeeds as Whitley's wife; the two together are instantly believable as a married couple.The movie is arguably the most clever movie about the alien abduction/ visitor phenomenon. Unlike countless cheap, made-for-TV films, where the emphasis is on the sensationalistic, "shocking" aspects of the subject, COMMUNION focuses on the psychological and emotional hurt the experience does. We see Strieber describe his experiences to his medical doctor, and then to a psychiatrist. Once his own mental health has been established, then (and only then) does he start to consider the chance that the monsters he has seen are now real.After questioning everyone from medical specialists to fellow abductees, Whitley realizes the only ones with the answers are the visitors themselves. At the film's climax, he willingly presents himself to the visitors. This is what makes COMMUNION transcend each another movie about the phenomenon.Director Phillipe Mora successfully creates a "you-are-there" atmosphere, letting the actors improvise a lot of their dialogue. There are two distinct moods: one, where things are brightly lit, secure, and normal; and secondly, the dark, unsettling globe Strieber inhabits only with himself and with the visitors. Mora's direction is subtle, with cues in both the dialogue and a detailed, occasionally wry visual style.Another plus is Eric Clapton's opening and closing theme music.This is a seriously underrated film.The director's slash (with commentary by Mora) is recommended.


Director Philippe Mora has made some bizarre films in his time, and 'Communion' is one of the strangest. Christopher Walken plays writer Whitley Strieber who finds his life going in a very odd direction. Strieber isn't the most grounded guy in the first zone - his writing technique seems to consist of putting on funny hats and pretending to be a wolf - but even his broadminded wife Anne (Mamet regular Lindsay Crouse) draws the line at freaking out at Halloween masks, pulling a gun on imaginary owls or intruders or whatever it was, and generally nutso behaviour. She convinces Whit to see a doctor, and then a psychiatrist. Under hypnosis Strieber finds out more than he is prepared for. At least he's not insane... I think.This is one of Walken's best "out there" performances, as memorable as 'The Deerhunter', 'The Lord Of Fresh York' and 'Wild Side'. He mumbles, grimaces, laughs, dances, twitches, stares, freaks out, charms, irritates and scares. I don't think his "Whitley Strieber" has anything to do with the true life one, but it's a sensational performance nonetheless. Walken has several rivals in screen psychos - only Dennis Hopper during his 70s excesses, or vintage Timothy Carey can rival him. Freakin' weird role in a freakin' weird movie! A gotta see for lovers of film strangeness.



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