Director: James Ward Byrkit
Cast: Emily Foxler, Nicholas Brendon, Maury Sterling, Hugo Armstrong, Lauren Maher, Alex Manugian, Elizabeth Gracen, Lorene Scafaria
Plot: A group of friends get together for a dinner party, when a comet passes overhead, throwing their night into chaos and horror.
Coherence is going to be a tough movie to review. A lot of its brilliance relies on its twisting and turning premise and the dissections of character that each plot twist throws onto the table. However at the same time, to even begin talking about the creativity and sheer intelligence Coherence boasts, I would have to give away far too many spoilers. I am toying with writing up a second review this week where I discuss each spoiler and unwrap the bigger picture behind each mystery. However, for this review today, I shall not give away a single detail. In fact, let me start with a one sentence review: it might be early days, but this could be the best movie of 2015.
It starts off with a group of characters getting together for a dinner party. Right off the bat, even if you have no idea what this movie is about, you are drawn to it by the direction and dialogue. It is very clearly indie with a lower resolution camera (not bad quality, just not Hollywood quality), yet the direction has a mesmerising atmosphere that makes it impossible to resist. The dialogue in the first few minutes flows naturally. There is something very raw and real about the way everyone speaks and interacts with each other. This is something that carries on until the very end of the movie. It is the little details that make them so realistic as people; the way they stutter over their words or how the couples in the background drift into each other when stressed. As an ensemble, they work perfectly. In this opening dinner table conversation scene, they are all talking over each other, as people do in real life after a glass of wine. Someone is telling a story, another person is making jokes over the top of them. Meanwhile two other people have splintered away from that conversation and are whispering to themselves at the edge of the table, breaking into their own debate. It is more than a normal Hollywood dinner table scene, it is a cacophony of sounds. The characters feel real and as a result, within a few minutes, they feel more developed than any other horror movie cast (is Coherence a horror? An interesting question within itself), even if they arguably fall under certain stereotypes. The direction also draws you in right from the start. We will be in the middle of a conversation, flowing naturally and then the scene would cut to another segment of the conversation, broken by a moment of darkness and silence. It feels like a fractured piece of time (and suddenly everyone who has already seen Coherence has just figured out one of my many theories on this movie). It is a neat trick, and whether or not, it does relate to later plot elements, it is enough to draw you into the movie, despite the fact it has spent its first five minutes, doing little more than showing us a group of people, talking around a table.
Then the horror kicks in. The reason I ponder if it is a horror is because it is more of a thriller with a few horror movie elements mixed in to get the characters on their feet. We are never scared, but minor jump scares (a knock on the door, a light bulb going out), builds the atmosphere nicely. The characters react naturally to the sudden event as well. The alpha males jump into protection mode, the nervous rationalise what is happening, a few jokesters laugh it off. When it comes to decision-making, I love how there isn’t really a leader to this group. Naturally by the end of it, we have a main character, as eight people is too many to deliver a totally equal ensemble piece, but in terms of leadership, everyone has an equal say in what happens. And that does not work. Someone will come up with a bright idea, but the loudest of the group shoots it down. Maybe someone wanders off to carry out their idea anyway. It makes Coherence really difficult to predict and it is down to the brilliance of the writing that we are glued to this group of people, as they stumble their way through this impossible situation.
Then there are the wider meanings. Coherence will pride itself on leaning back and watching its fans dissect every angle of the movie, searching for the hidden meanings. In many ways, this is like something Stanley Kubrick would come up with, in another life where he didn’t have the fame to make blockbusters like Shining. As well as story quirks, every new plot development throws intriguing questions to the front of our minds. When does identity stop being identity? What’s real and what’s not? At the risk of hinting towards the ending, if you decide that nothing is real anymore, does that give you the right to stray from your moral code? Coherence might not be the most exciting movie this year. Other directors might be able to top it by the time we hit the other side of 2015. However, I am pretty sure that when we get to the other side of the year, some part of us will still be thinking about this movie and still questioning whether what we thought happened, actually did happen.
Final Verdict: I am not giving anything away. Just take it from me: you will love this movie.