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Communion (1989)

November. 10,1989
| Drama Horror Thriller Science Fiction

A novelist's wife and son see him changed by an apparent encounter with aliens in the mountains.


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-- The Book:I just read the book last month, and it was a very anticipated read (with me having seen the movie years prior and the book being a best seller and all). And in this case, I wasn't all that thrilled after reading it. Don't get me wrong, it's a great book. Whitley has a clever writing-style. He fights a constant psychological battle, on the one hand coming up with evidence that he really was abducted by aliens, while otherwise trying to refute the experience with other, more rational explanations. He also, at times, delves into folklore and mythology, though he only scratches the tip of the iceberg and doesn't really develop nor support any theories. This book's really about him and his experience. Makes up for an interesting read, but the downside is, that the book becomes very repetitive after a while. Strieber keeps on going over the same events that happened on two nights in such a way that after a while he really isn't adding anything new. Not a new angle, nor a new light on the matter. And at such times, it gets a little harder to sit through his whole story. Nevertheless, it's an interesting read, and great material to compare to the screenplay of the movie (also written by Strieber).-- The Movie:The 1989 adaptation is one that grew on me. I just finished watching it for the 3rd time (after quite some years), and I like it better now. The film itself is actually more entertaining than the book, so again, Strieber managed to write a clever adaptation. True, near the end the story gets quite fragmented, and results more in the telling of anecdotes than actually trying to wrap up an already incoherent story (note that I'm not using the word 'inconsistent', because Strieber is very consistent in his way of telling the events, both in the book and the movie). It's fun, though, noticing little details that he left out of the movie. Sometimes Strieber devoted a whole chapter in the book to a certain anecdote, while in the movie it gets reduced to nothing more than one line of dialogue (obviously carrying a lot more weight than you'd at first imagine). Christopher Walken plays Strieber, and he simply owns the film. It's great to see him walk and talk through this whole movie. The special effects are really neat and surreal at times, which fits the atmosphere of the movie. I'd say COMMUNION is really worth a watch. Reading the book gives you a more in-depth look on what happened and might help you to understand how the movie came to be.

Carson Trent

Whitley suddenly finds himself in an alien world, where once he tells his abduction story, he becomes subject of, strangely enough, his own ridicule, but also public skepticism. When his mind tells him something even his own, never mind outsiders, own logic rejects, he truly finds himself inside an alien nightmare of a reality. But this is the moment he has his "communion", when he changes as a person. The symbolism is powerful in this movie, suggesting that it's not what is obvious, but that there is a hidden meaning behind a life-altering experience.From a creative point of view, a story like this might be quite appealing, and regarded as extravagant, but how would we cope with somebody claiming to have lived such things? Or more, with our own minds telling us? And how are these things going to affect us? Are they going to derail us from our current paths, change our perception, or are we going to regard them as oddities beyond our grasp and understanding? There is a moment where Whitley says that they are all masks of God, perfectly underlining the fact that the strangest thing can actually be just a bit outside our roam of understanding, but still within some common frame of cosmic alignment. It's up to us weather we accept or reject it. Much of the movie is Walken's merit, because his performance compensates the lack of elaborate special effects and there are some occasions where his facial expression is enough to make your skin crawl.


I have read the book and seen the movie and wasn't disappointed by either. I am a Strieber fan so appreciated what risks he took to write this autobiographical novel. It's true the book does have a different feel to the movie. This is mostly due, I believe to, the director Philippe Mora and Christopher Walken's quirky yet memorable acting presence.This film is very eerie, frightening, surreal and disturbing. It's not a feel-good movie but is definitely thought-provoking, just like the novel.This is definitely one of Walken's best movies. I was impressed! Also Joel Carlson does a great job as Strieber's son, Andrew. The scenes involving his son and the other dream sequences are perhaps the most disturbing.I felt empathy for Strieber in Walken's very convincing performance. I felt drawn to the character and his family.I find myself watching this film every few years and as I do it is more rewarding each time. There are some very memorable lines in this movie that will stay with you long afterwards.If you like thought-provoking, eerie, movies involving alien abduction then this may be well worth your while.


I read "Communion" about 16 years ago and the feeling of terror was palpable so I waited with great expectations for this movie to see if Whitley Strieber's vision could be captured on-screen. Unfortunately, this is just a bad film built on a bad screen play.Ilker Yucel's review was interesting to read but I'm not sure how much of his insights bare witness to the truth.... but I enjoyed reading it, Ilker.It would be such a change of pace if the movie, based on a book, could actually match the brilliance of the written word. It is accomplished so rarely.