Showing: Wed 25 June – 20:40 @ Cineworld Fountain Park // Sat 28 June – 22:50 @ Filmhouse 1
Director: James Ward Byrkit
Starring: Emily Baldoni, Maury Sterling, Nicholas Brendon
Running Time: 89 minutes
The dinner party: a staple part of the cinematic diet. A group of well-heeled, well-read 30-somethings sit around a beautifully-set dining table, quaffing wine and rehashing their own personal dramas. It’s a scene virtually every cinema-goer is familiar with and to be honest, one that is getting more than a little clichéd. So how better to mix things up than to host said dinner party on the same night as a rare comet, a power cut and a brief intermingling of alternate realities?
When a comet lights up the sky over Mike and Lee’s otherwise mundane dinner party, strange things start to happen. Rather refreshingly however, in James Ward Byrkit’s Coherence no one loses their shit – at least not right away. With the phone lines down and lights out, the group simply buckle down, light some candles and find the nearest bottle opener. It’s only when they step outside the house that things take a turn for the worse.
It is a rare filmmaker that can successfully centre their movie around the premise of a theoretical quandary such as that of Schrodinger’s Cat (the dead/alive cat in the unopened box), and yet that is exactly what Byrkit has managed in Coherence. With pithy one-liners and carefully scripted nods to its stars’ previous fantasy-based roles (Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Nicholas Brendon has indeed ‘grown into his face’ over time), Byrkit somehow manages to ground what is otherwise a mind-boggling subject matter. Although there is little in the way of your typical modern-horror bloodshed, Coherence is nonetheless terrifying because that BANG on the window may, in fact, come from a far more nightmarish source than the classic bogeymen and psychopaths of yore.
The groups’ over-familiar and banal behaviour toward one another – which is initially so irritating –works well during the subsequent chaos, building paranoia and tension to a believable state. While the unfocused, low-key camera work can occasionally leave you feeling nauseated, it is a small price to pay for the exploration of what is a genuinely intriguing and unsettling subject matter. Unlike any other film this year, Coherence will leave you wandering out of the cinema, scratching your head and blinking into the daylight with a sense of quiet unease. A film of endless possibilities, that will no doubt prompt many subsequent viewings and ruminations – just don’t expect your head to hurt any less as you attempt to gain any form of coherence.