Today I watched Philippe Mora’s Communion (1989)
Christopher Walken plays Whitley Strieber, a real life writer whose book this film is based on and who also wrote the screenplay. The film is an attempted retelling of the supposedly real alien encounter that Strieber had which is much easier to digest in the form of a fictional movie. Strieber has a lovely family and a cabin out in the wilderness where they spend Christmas and where the abduction event occurs. At first Strieber cannot remember the experience but it still affects him deeply and his psychological distress leads him to seek the help of a psychiatrist. Rounds of hypnotic regression therapy leads to him remembering his amazing experiences and confronting the idea that we are not alone in the universe.
This is a movie in which Christopher Walken is abducted by little blue men and probed, right there is the entire appeal of this film, unless you are an alien truther. I am not much of a believer in advanced alien races giving a damn about the contemptible human race which makes elements of this film rather irritating. The abduction narrative is rife with possible subtext and metaphor but not in this film, no this is a film written by a man who wants to profit off of peddling his hallucinations as fact, a more American idea I have trouble thinking of. It makes the film come off as totally flat from a dramatic standpoint and have nothing of value from a thematic one.
But that’s alright because what it does offer is Christopher Walken at his most bizarre. Once the film gets to the aliens it goes totally off the rails with cheap looking costumes and effects that the creators can only have intended as a joke. I get the feeling that the director also had little patience for Streiber and thus went out of their way to portray the events in some of the silliest ways possible. Throw Walken into the mix, a man who always seems like an extra terrestrial anyway, and you get some wonderful high camp.
One look at the poster and you know what you are in for, this is an absurd and silly little film. It delivers exactly what it promises, Walken and the little blue men from space in a competition for who can be weirder. Oh I almost forgot, the film also has a theme written by Eric Clapton which is just as hilariously misplaced as one might expect. This may not be the most over the top piece of cinema, but the subtle absurdity does make it an easy watch. Honestly it could have stood to be worse, it has all the makings of a so-bad-it’s-good experience and the moments of frustratingly banal family drama weighs down the lovably kitsch elements. Still it is well paced and who can deny the entertainment quality of Christopher Walken cutting a rug with men from Mars? 3/5