Communion (1989 film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed byPhilippe Mora
Written byWhitley Strieber
Based onCommunion
by Whitley Strieber
Produced byPhilippe Mora
CinematographyLouis Irving
Edited byLee Smith
Music byEric Clapton
Allan Zavod
Distributed byNew Line Cinema
Allied Vision
Release date
  • November 10, 1989 (1989-11-10)
Running time
105 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$7 million[1]
Box office$1.92 million[2]

Communion is a 1989 American science fiction horror film based on the book of the same name by Whitley Strieber in 1987.

Starring Christopher Walken and Frances Sternhagen, it tells a story of a family that experiences an extraterrestrial phenomenon while on vacation at a remote home in the wilderness during which the father is abducted and all of their lives change. According to Strieber, the story is a real-life account of his own encounter with "visitors", with Walken playing the role of the author.


In 1985, New York based author Whitley Strieber (Walken) lives with his wife and child in Manhattan and seems to be successful. However, he is woken at night by paranoid dreams that someone else is in the room.

On a trip to the family cottage in the woods, on the first night the intruder alarm is triggered and Strieber sees a face watching him from the doorway. Bright light fills the cottage windows and wakes his son and two other family friends but his wife remains asleep.

Disturbed by this, they all return to New York and life seemingly returns to normal but Strieber finds that his work and personal life are becoming affected by recurring nightmares and visions of strange alien beings including greys, blue doctors and bugs. This upsets his son and puts strain on his marriage.

After an incident at their cottage in which Strieber is so convinced that there are alien beings inside the home that he pulls his gun out and almost shoots his wife, worried that his son is beginning to have the same visions, he is finally convinced to see a psychiatrist specialising in hypnotic regression therapy (Sternhagen).

The therapy confirms that he has possibly been abducted by unknown beings and experiments have been performed on him; however, he is still skeptical about it and reluctantly attends a group therapy session of fellow 'abductees'.

Eventually he realizes he has to confront his visions, real or not, and returns to the cottage where most of the incidents seem to occur. He interacts with the alien beings and realizes he has been in contact with them his whole life and it was passed on from his father and he will, in turn, pass it on to his son.

Making up with his family Strieber comes to accept the alien visitors as part of his life and in the last scene he sits in his office and embraces the face of a 'grey' alien.



Communion was written by Whitley Strieber adapting his book of the same name, itself chronicling Strieber's alleged encounters with extraterrestrials.[1] Strieber opted to work with director and friend Philippe Mora on adapting the story to film with the understanding Strieber would handle the writing without interference while Mora would handle direction without interference.[1] Strieber chose to have the film produced independently as he feared having a major studio adapt his experiences would turn it into a special effects heavy horror film rather than a character piece.[1] During production it was reported that on set some members of the crew would crack jokes at Strieber's expense about the autobiographical aspects of the story.[1] Strieber said of these instances:

Some people who work on movies are nice people; some people who work on movies are jerks. We had the usual mix on this crew.[1]


It received a mostly negative reaction and was panned by Strieber himself due to its non-factual portrayal of him. The film was considered a box office failure. It has subsequently picked up a moderate cult following.[citation needed] On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 33% approval rating based on 12 reviews, with an average rating of 4.6/10.[3]

Some critics praised Walken's performance as the highlight of the film. Los Angeles Times called his performance "terrific" and added: "Walken dazzles, giving us an intelligent, talented man caught in a nightmare and fearing for his sanity."[4]


The score was composed by Eric Clapton and Alan Clark, though no official soundtrack album was ever released. In 2010, the Main Theme and End Credit theme were released by film composer and former Oingo Boingo guitarist Steve Bartek.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Florence, Bill (January 1990). "Communion". Cinefantastique. Fourth Castle Micromedia. Retrieved February 23, 2023.
  2. ^ Communion at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ "Communion". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 2, 2022.
  4. ^ Kevin Thomas (10 November 1989). "MOVIE REVIEW: Walken Has Purported Close Encounter in 'Communion'". Los Angeles Times.

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