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Brian De Palma
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J. Lee Thompson
Melissa Sue Anderson,
Alice Spages is a withdrawn 12 year old girl who lives with her mother, Catherine, and her younger sister, Karen. Karen gets most of the attention from her mother, and Alice is often left out of the spotlight. But when Karen is found brutally murdered in a church before her first holy communion, all suspicions are turned towards Alice. But is a twelve year old girl really capable of such savagery? As more people begin to die at the hands of a merciless killer, Alice becomes more and more likely of a suspect. Written by
This is a brilliant, original, thought-provoking horror movie that has festered in obscurity for some time. Despite a laserdisc release and a slew of alternate titles -- "Alice Sweet Alice" and "Holy Terror" are but two -- it is still virtually unknown.
At the time of its release, PR wags made a big deal that it featured Brook Shields in her first on-screen role. PR wags did not make a big deal of the fact that there had not been anything like it ever before and that it featured an amazing newcomer, Paula E. Sheppard, in a chilling role as a deeply disturbed schoolgirl who may or may not be responsible for a slew of gory murders. Add to those a strong Catholic subtext and hints of child abuse and you've got one incredible ninety minutes of mental and physical mayhem.
Director Alfred Sole, who also made the flawed but fascinating "Tanya's Island" and the rotten "Thursday the 12th" (aka "Pandemonium") creates unbelievable tension and always places his characters (who are very well written) before the horror. Plotting, characterization and suspense are so expertly mixed the film doesn't even feel like a genre piece at times ; instead, it feels like a European drama...but one circling a potent giallo.
As noted, Sheppard is superb as Alice; Linda Miller is exemplary as Alice's tormented mother Catherine and Jane Lowry as the domineering Aunt Annie turns in a powerhouse performance. And playing Alice's obese, perverted neighbor to chilling perfection is the late Alphonso DeNoble. The scene in which he comes close to molesting Alice is priceless for its economy and authenticity.
From the excellent photography to the super-creepy score by Stephen Lawrence, "Communion" is compelling until the final body hits the church floor.
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