Alice, Sweet Alice (Communion) Reviews
my opinion one of the films that affiliate a strongly Italian giallo atmosphere...!
The story is set in the 1960's and begins with two sisters who are basically polar opposites of each other. Karen is the younger good girl preparing for her first communion, while Alice is seen as the troublemaker and sparks the ire of her mother, their school, and the congregation. Alice, being the older sister, also enjoys picking on her sister and their obese landlord, making her many enemies in the process.
During the church service before the communion, Karen is attacked and murdered by someone wearing a porcelain mask and a yellow raincoat who then stuffs her body into a box and lights it on fire.
After the killing and before the smoke is detected, the congregation is baffled to see Alice take a spot in front of Father Tom for the communion even though she wasn't participating in it. And, as her mother goes to retrieve her and question her, the fire is detected and the horrific crime scene is discovered.
The crime shocks the congregation and the family is crushed by Karen's murder. The family also becomes divided about Alice, with some wondering if she had something to do with her sister's murder, while the others vehemently defend her and saying that she had nothing to do with it.
Things only continue to get frightening as more people turn up dead or are attacked by the unknown assailant, and Alice's mental condition deteriorates with the cloud of suspicion surrounding her and her claims that Karen is haunting her. Everyone is a suspect and no one is safe.
The story, while messy at times, is still very engaging, which is very uncommon in slasher films as most slasher films can only really be enjoyed on the basis of trashy, stab-a-thon fun as opposed to their nonsensical storytelling. What makes the story so engaging is not only because of how it develops its mystery, but also how it deconstructs religion and the hypocrisy of people who claim to follow their religion, as they turn out to be some of the most evil, hateful people imaginable. It also shows the extremes some people will go to punish those whom they deem as "sinful" through abhorrent acts. It's a vicious, pitch black, satirical gut-punch to religious hypocrisy, and it does a fantastic job at satire.
While it works on a satirical level, the story also does a great job at building its core mystery. You think you know what's going to happen, only to have the story completely turn the tables on you by throwing a curve ball at you. There's a lot going on to decipher. The horror is also filled with suspense and creepy atmosphere to complement the mystery elements.
It also works as a family drama, because it shows the straining of relationships, parental bonds with their children in the worst of times, and the painful parts of parenthood. In short, the story has a lot going on, which is very surprising for a slasher film.
The acting in this film can be rather hit-or-miss, as well as suffer from some dialogue pitfalls. However, I really enjoyed the performances by Linda Miller, as the mother, Catherine, Niles McCaster as the father, Dom, and Paula E. Sheppard as Alice who easily deliver the best performances in the film. However, the other actors can be rather cheesy, which does hamper the film's storytelling and atmosphere by taking away some of the mystique in the process.
On an entertainment level, I found there was a lot to enjoy, not just on a trashy slasher film level, but also on an intellectual level with all its themes and messages. This made for a very engaging and entertaining film that also came with all the trimmings of bloody violence and demented scenes that I enjoyed and would expect from such a film of its era. It's got horror, mystery, suspense, campy fun, biting satire, and more.
While the storytelling and acting can be cheesy, the film is still worth a look if you're a horror fan looking for something unusual and strangely intelligent. It's a wonderful, albeit messy and slightly aloof cult classic that is also a hell of a lot of fun to watch.