Did 12-year-old Alice strangle and set fire to her younger sister during her first communion service? As Robin Wood has noted, the American family film has shifted from the comedy genre to the horror film; in this instance a lot of the humour transfers as well. Communion delights in confounding expectations as it conducts three separate enquiries. The plot investigates the murder; the film examines the family's self-destruction; and the film-makers construct a running commentary on the themes of Alfred Hitchcock: against a carefully evoked background of Catholicism emerge twin themes of repression and guilt. Numerous parallels and cross-references neatly bind it all together. The result is far more than a sterile exercise in suspense: Communion constantly keeps the audience on its toes with a wealth of incidental detail, excellent set pieces and technical versatility.