Director: James Ward Byrkit
Writer: James Ward Byrkit
Starring: Emily Baldoni, Nicholas Brendon and Alex Manugian
Despite its completion in 2013, I’ve only recently been able to see Coherence as part of the Abertoir Horror Festival takeover in Chapter Arts Centre for Halloween and honestly, I’m surprised I’d not heard more about it before now. This is a clever, engaging film that succeeds because it doesn’t need to remind you how clever it is at every turn. Instead, it thrusts you into a dinner party situation that begins innocently and descends into secrets, lies and recurring vices.
Married couple Mike (Brendon) and Lee (Lorene Scarfaria) are throwing a dinner party for friends during a night in which a comet is predicted to pass. In addition to the comet, tensions within the group are high, given that one guest is bringing the ex-girlfriend of Kevin (Maury Sterling) as a date, much to the discomfort of Kevin’s current girlfriend Em (Emily Baldoni). As the comet passes however, the night takes a very different turn.
It is hard to qualify Coherence as a horror in a strict sense and it probably belongs more to the sci-fi side of things, but this is not to play down some genuinely unsettling moments within the film. The characters too are introduced initially as average, middle class types and it is only as the film continues that we are introduced to their darker sides, largely through the characters themselves admitting to, or inadvertently revealing them.
The start of the film positions the viewer within a naturalistic setting – a slightly off-focus camera moving loosely around the kitchen and dining space creates a relaxed yet dynamic feel which really contributes to the believability of the scene. The crafting of these scenes and the way we drop in and out of the action and conversations creates a feeling of a passage of time, meaning we relax into the evening along with the characters, and equally are exposed to the tension when it arises. The naturalistic setting also contrasts well when events take a turn for the strange.
At the start of this review I mentioned that it succeeds by being a clever film that doesn’t need to remind viewers how clever it is being. Aside from one (genuinely funny) casting in-joke, the film does little to offer a nod and a wink to break the tension along with the fourth wall, choosing instead to immerse its audience within the night. The cast too is wonderfully put together and is a true ensemble, with only one character emerging as a lead in the true sense rather late on in the film.
Coherence is a very strong entry into either the horror or sci-fi genre, with its ending packing a punch more often seen in the climax of short films and leaves you wanting more, yet ends with the knowledge that it has done enough. There are also enough clever twists and developments that I would happily watch it again and again (if only to pick up on extra potential clues). Coherence is a film that demands your concentration, but rewards you heavily for it.
Find Coherence on twitter: @coherencemovie