Coherence (2013)

When a passing comet knocks out the power in all houses except one, a party of eight friends set off to investigate. Unbeknownst to them however, the comet has torn open the fabric of reality, creating an alternate timeline at the end of the street. The result is Coherence, a stripped down, experimental science fiction film that both messes with your head and delights in the best way possible.

Early on into Coherence, we’re given an ominous foreshadowing of the events to come. Phones have begun to cut out, one phone has cracked inexplicably and you just get the sense of there being something in the air; an electricity that even you, the viewer, can feel. Maybe it’s the fly-on-the-wall approach to filming, that shaky camera believability we’ve seen in movies before, or maybe it’s just the conviction of the performances given; you can just feel it.

As the dinner guests start to realise what’s happening, that reality is fracturing around them, they set out to try and solve the problem, with science books, Schrodinger’s Cat theories and some of the most genius use of glow sticks I’ve ever seen. One particular scene, in which the dinner guests come into contact with their alternate selves not only comes out of nowhere, it’s utterly chilling. The movie brands itself as a Science Fiction Thriller, but there are some genuine horror elements wonderfully interlaced in there.

From the get go, Coherence attempts and largely succeeds in making an unbelievable premise believable, and that’s the real draw. Not only that, it makes you invested in the characters, most notably of which is Mike, played by Nicholas Brendan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame. His evolution (or rather, devolution) is superbly portrayed, and is perhaps the most relatable character arc.

Coherence is a film that will have wide appeal, despite its low budget and short shooting time. These things only add to its achievement. It’s a film that leans heavily on theoretical physics, but at no point is it confusing or patronising. Director James Ward Byrkit has succeeded in making a film that is heavy on the science and does not dumb anything down, with a finished product that not only works, does not make the viewer feel stupid. The ensemble cast each bring something different to the (dinner) table, and work perfectly with each other, and there is a chilling soundtrack that echoes through the entire piece, making the viewer feel uncomfortable throughout. This is highly reminiscent reminiscent of the soundtrack in Absentia, which also worked to great effect.

If there were any criticism to be made, it would be that there tends to be a little bit of repetition. It’s only natural to assume that there would be this repetition, given the subject material, but at times, it does tend to deviate from necessary repetition to just plain recycling the same thing.

Other than minor flaws though, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable ride, with an ending that will have jaws dropping and an overall film that begs for a repeat watch, just to see all the subtle puzzle pieces you missed the first time. In fact, it’s even better the second time around.

Highly recommended.

Disclaimer: Your viewing experience may be somewhat diminished if you’ve seen the alternate timeline episode of Community. You have been warned.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

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