On the night of an astronomical anomaly, eight friends at a dinner party experience a troubling chain of reality bending events. Part cerebral sci-fi and part relationship drama, Coherence is a tightly focused, intimately shot film that quickly ratchets up with tension and mystery.
ActorsStarring: Hugo Armstrong, Emily Baldoni, Nicholas Brendon, Elizabeth Gracen, Lauren Maher, Alex Manugian, Lorene Scafaria, Maury Sterling
Review by Andy Hayler:
Coherence is an ultra-low budget (reputedly $50,000) movie with an potentially intriguing premise. A dinner party unfolds just as a comet passes overhead. Some preudo-science is invoked to explain that under these circumstances it is possible that some sort of gateway to parallel dimensions may open up temporarily. The guests are puzzled to discover that during a power cut there appears to be just one nearby house with the lights still on, but that this house appears to be an exact copy of their own, down to the dinner party guests themselves. The mystery unfolds quite quickly and so it is rapidly apparent that there is at least one parallel dinner party in progress, possibly more, so the guests debate what actions they might take. Should they contact their dopplegangers or steer clear? Clues appear in notes pinned to their door, presumably by the parallel versions of themselves.
In itself this is an intriguing idea, but in such a complex scenario the film needs to set up its internal logic and follow this rigorously, and sadly Convergence fails to do this. Further power cuts presumably indicate that the scene has shifted to one of the parallel parties, but the audience is left to unravel this important narrative device as it watches the ever odder actions of the guests. An inordinate amount of time is spent on coming up with a way to clearly mark their particular house so that they can find it again, and the guests generally seem surprisingly unfazed by the supernatural events going on around them. One guest, an actor called Mike, played by ex Buffy star Nicholas Brendon, takes the sensible course and resorts to getting drunk until the phenomenon passes, and the audience members may well wish that they had joined him. The film cannot seem to decide whether it wants to focus about revelations about the dinner guests or trying to explain increasingly tortured logic of the events unfolding. In the end one or two elements of drama are thrown in to try and bring things to some form of conclusion, but in truth the whole thing sputters to a halt rather than results in a satisfying denouement. The acting is serviceable, the dialogue apparently mostly improvised, and here is the heart of the problem. There is nothing wrong with having a tiny scale for a film – this happens with any theatrical adaptation, for example. Yet in such cases you can normally fall back on a tried and tested, tightly written script, and here the cast appear to be winging it, as indeed apparently they largely were.
It seems harsh to be over-critical of a low budget film but there are just too many problems for it to work. In the hands of a good writer this could have been a genuinely fascinating tale, but sadly it is an opportunity wasted. The story lines is simply incoherent and the result is something of a mess.
3/10 (maybe 4/10 – I can’t quite decide)
Review by Bart Hartgring:
Coherence explores what might happen if a passing comet would put us in the kind of box that Schrödingers Cat is in…? That probably sounds a bit cryptic, but this is one of those movies best seen with as little knowledge of the plot as possible.
It is a low budget, high-concept sci-fi that focuses on people and their relationships and behaviour as they undergo a ‘supernatural’ experience on a particular evening.
The movie is fairly interesting – it’s laid out as a puzzle for us to figure out; the first half or so is incredibly chatty and filmed with a somewhat annoying shoulder-cam angle which doesn’t quite succeed in its attempt to make you feel part of the group of 8 people having a fun get-together. Thankfully the plot then starts to evolve and we slowly find out what might be going on: something weird. Well, it itsn’t all that weird, and it is not supernatural either, if quantum mechanics are to be believed.
But a large part of the storyline that follows in terms of how the group of eight responds to this situation seems fairly odd; I can’t really explain it without giving spoilers unfortunately. Only towards the end it seems that one of the group is taking a step back from the proceedings and sets out to make some choices. If only that had happened an hour earlier in the movie and the plot would have moved from that chatty banter to thought-led choice-making a lot earlier, it could have made for a much more intriguing movie.
As it is, the concept is interesting, but the way it has been handled, not strong enough in its own right to carry the movie as a whole.
A generous 5/10