So this friend of mine has been passing me a bunch of film recommendations. One of them is a film I had never heard of before, Coherence, which by most accounts is a really good sci-fi flick and nowhere near as obscure as I thought.
After checking it out the other night and rewatching it yesterday, I can confirm that it is indeed a wonderful little sci-fi film that proves you don’t need much of a budget to create a compelling, thought-provoking story.
The premise is simple. A comet is passing by and strange phenomena is starting to happen all around. On this night, a group of friends meet up for a dinner party, and not long after, they start experiencing some really weird stuff. I’d recommend avoiding reviews that give away the film’s core sci-fi concepts as I really enjoyed going into this one completely blind, with no knowledge of whether it was going to be a mystery or thriller or horror.
The most impressive thing about Coherence is that it manages to feel quite grounded despite dealing with some very “out there” ideas and moments. It’s a true team effort, with the direction and screenplay by James Ward Byrkit as well as the stellar cast all playing a role in infusing unexpected realism to what could have been quite a farcical situation. Instead, the film turned out to be tense and unsettling, with the claustrophobic setting adding to the sense of growing fear and paranoia.
None of the names on the cast jumped out at me except for Nicholas Brendon from TV’s Buffy and Elizabeth Gracen, though my knowledge of the latter comes from her reputation as the actress who once had a one-night stand with Bill Clinton. The protagonist is played by Emily Baldoni (née Foxler), who previously had roles in Ghosts of Girlfriends Past and The Lost Tribe (also known as Primevil or Primal in Australia). She’s also very good.
Coherence is the type of film you must really pay attention or you’ll quickly lose track of what’s going on, and probably requires multiple viewings to unpackage all the complexities and intricacies of the plot. But don’t worry, the dialogue is mostly easy to follow and it’s nowhere as difficult to decipher as say the time-travel cult classic Primer. I did, however, get more out of it in the second viewing.
It is of course still a very small budget, small-scale “ideas” film, and as such expectations need to be kept in check. I’d rank Coherence a notch above a really awesome feature-length episode of The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits. It’s original, it’s smart, it’s well made and it’s an intriguing experience I recommend heartily.
4 stars out of 5