Communion (1989) – Film Review
(Maybe some mild spoilers but nothing much)
My boyfriend suggested watching Communion. He confessed he’d caught it on TV one night as a kid (for kid see ‘quite old teenager’ but who am I to talk) and was suitably freaked out. He wanted to watch it again out of curiosity. Exactly the same as me and The Entity (though come on, The Entity is cooler right?!).
I’d never even heard of Communion but after adding up in my head the various components of Christopher Walken, late 80s, aliens and frights OF COURSE I wanted to watch it. And I can totally see why boyfriend was freaked out. Though not scary (being a hardened adult) Communion is completely surreal and occasionally nightmarish. Just the kind of thing that scares you when you’re little (or quite an old teenager).
So yeah, pretty surreal. But mainly though – Communion is just plain NUTS.
Directed by Philippe Mora (The Howling 2: Your Sister is a Werewolf) it’s based on the supposed ‘true story’ of novelist Whitley Strieber (he also wrote the screenplay) who claims to have been periodically abducted (and anally probed) by grey aliens for most of his life.
Mild spoiler – this MAY not be true. Actually I’m being a little unkind and ignorant considering I’ve never read one of his books and hadn’t even heard of the guy until now. So who am I to judge? It’s just that the events in the film are so wacko and mental it’s hard to believe any of it happened.
*whispering* I don’t think any of it happened.
So in the film Walken plays Whitley – who comes across as this trendy kind of jazz guy, a New York writer, a “let’s go to the theatre in a long overcoat and then play a brass instrument” type. His wife (played by Lindsay Crouse) is equally trendy and edgy and together they are a seemingly successful, cool, and arty couple. They also have a cute little son so everything seems perfect.
As well as their trendy New York apartment the couple also own a beautiful lake house (jealous) – and this is where Whitley starts seeing the alien stuff. It begins with flashes of bright lights and creepy figures hiding around the door on a weekend visit. A little while later he is PROPERLY abducted and then he starts acting really weird and everyone’s worried and he still keeps seeing the aliens. There is an air of ‘is he just going mad and making it up’ – which was probably the best bit of the writing because I felt it completely and legitimately highlighted just how shit it would be to have your cool husband / dad start going mad.
Now a lot of films get called weird. You could say for example that Napoleon Dynamite was a weird film or Eraserhead (of course). But trust me, no film is quite as weird as Communion. Not only is the plot strange but the execution of the film is also very strange. And when you twin these facts with Christopher Walken doing possibly the kookiest, most ‘out there’ performance of his life (and I mean kooky FOR Christopher Walken) – you get a really, really, really strange film.
I actually did follow the plot. I made a real effort to keep on top of what was happening – all the time my brain buzzing and whirring with electrical impulses struggling to make sense of it all. And actually I DID make sense of it…….until the final third. The final third is where it just gets really wacky and you physically cannot follow it anymore. Stuff happens that is just insane, illogical, nonsensical, no consistency. What the fuck is he trying to say?!
But hey, I say watch it. It was fun! Unintentionally humorous, at times quite engaging and occasionally a bit creepy. And if you want to see Christopher Walken acting even more nuts than usual (and snogging an alien) I just don’t see how you can turn this down.