A group of friends gather for a dinner party on the evening that a comet is set to pass the Earth by at very close range. What starts off as a normal night of eating, drinking and conversation soon turns into a mind bending nightmare as the comet begins to exert its influence on reality. Just as some old resentments begin to bubble up between the four couples, there is a power cut. When the lights go out and phones and the internet go down, some members of the group leave the house to see if other houses in the street are having the same problems. From there, things get incredibly weird as it becomes clear that nothing is what it seems anymore.
Coherence is one of those films that has to be seen to be believed. You can’t explain the story without ruining its many secrets and brilliant twists and turns. It is a film that your brain just has to run alongside and do its very best to keep up with as the confusing and frequently ingenious plot developments pile up. It is a very smart piece of low key science fiction where the scientific theory has to be explained from a book, but the improvised nature of the dialogue and the believable behaviour of the cast completely sell the bonkers premise.
Debut feature director James Ward Byrkit’s experimental production process pays off in spades as his cast of recognisable faces (mostly from TV shows) completely convince as couples and friends, even as the story takes its unexpected course. Shot in the director’s own house and barely leaving the living room, Coherence is low budget but high on ideas; not quite as hard to follow as the vaguely similar Primer, but pretty close. Whether it all absolutely adds up by the end will probably remain a mystery to most, but that just means that you will have to take the time to enjoy a second viewing.
With such a smart set up and slick twists throughout, the ending can’t quite reach the high points of the rest of the film. Given its limitations though, Coherence is inconceivably thrilling; a must see if you want your head scrambled by comets and quantum mechanics.
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