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Alice Spages is a withdrawn 12 year old girl who lives with her mother, Catherine, and her younger sister, Karen.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
Terrifically good sleeper horror from director Alfred Sole rises to a level much higher than it's low-budget appearance.
Is young Alice the masked murderer that's targeting her family?
Communion, better known as Alice Sweet Alice, is an engulfing and sharply-made shocker that seems to have been lost over the years. The story is a splendidly twisted murder mystery that boasts a good amount of suspense and some well-rounded characters. Sole directs this movie with some true skill and style, with lots of inventive cinematography and making great use of the rustic filming locations of Paterson, New Jersey. He also uses the imagery of the killer's mask and the catholic symbols in a creepily effective manner. There's plenty of good shocks to be had in this film as well, in fact the horrific stairwell-knifing is powerful to Hitchcockian proportions. This film is so well-made that it's a wonder Sole hasn't gone on to become better known in the cinematic world. The elegant music score is also a great addition to this thriller.
Cast-wise the film is great as well. Paula Sheppard (who was 19 years old at the time) plays her bratty 12 year old character very convincingly. Linda Miller is strong as Sheppard's understandably distraught mother. Mildred Clinton is excellent as the stern house keeper. Niles McMaster is good as Sheppard's estranged father, as is Jane Lowry as the hateful aunt. Rudolph Willrich is also memorable as father Tom. Look for young Brook Shields as Alice's little sister.
Communion is a striking and haunting little thriller that deserves a wider audience. For horror and thriller fans a like, it's a great find!
*** 1/2 out of ****
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