Communion [1976]

Was author Whitley Strieber telling the truth about extraterrestrial visitations in his bestselling book, Communion? Perhaps no one can really prove or disprove it, making the enigma of Strieber himself more interesting than his allegations. That's precisely the angle taken by this film adaptation, in which Christopher Walken's richly eccentric performance becomes a fascinating portrait of something more important than rumors of alien abduction--that is, human resistance and surrender to transformation. The script does an end run around the deductive process and research Strieber employed in his book to substantiate his claims. Instead, the story concentrates on the impact of those experiences on Strieber's own psyche: the disbelief, the repressed memories, the mounting helplessness and futility as the years go by. Walken makes it all terribly compelling, from his childlike compliance to the diminutive aliens who turn up in his home at night to an unexpected story climax in which Strieber demystifies the little buggers on his own surprisingly comic terms. The supporting cast is terrific, including Lindsay Crouse as Strieber's concerned wife, Frances Sternhagen as a doctor, and Joel Carlson as Strieber's son. This is not an offering that panders to today's alleged abductees, but rather a study of a sole survivor who finds his peace on his own terms. --Tom Keogh

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