Coherence (2013) Review

I like Coherence. This film is a huge inspiration; its a wonderful, thrilling, mind-bending ride for its entire run time, it has snappy clever writing, some fantastic performances, an engaging plot, fast paced editing, and smooth camera work. There is little at fault here. And it cost $50'000 to make.

Coherence (from director/writer James Ward Byrkit) is a sci-fi, mystery, thriller about a group of friends who meet one evening (coincidentally the same evening a comet is flying by) for dinner. Over the course of that night strange and extraordinarily mysterious things begin to occur. Coherence is hard to talk about because watching this film is like getting amazing gifts over and over again, and I just don't want to spoil what those gifts are.

But rest assured the captivating script remains clever and compelling throughout making it a film you simply cannot turn away from. It is full of twists you won't see coming, but when they hit you, not only will that smile of satisfaction you rarely experience while watching a clever film creep up upon your unsuspecting face, but suddenly it will create an incredible paranoia within you that will make you doubt everything and everyone for the rest of the film. Coherence will keep you guessing until the very end, and even then maybe a bit more.

While I won't talk much about the plot, I will talk about technical stuff. There is only a few things at fault here. The first is the camera quality, and the second is the editing. Firstly, the quality of the camera while not necessarily distracting, is noticeably low. I'm unsure whether it was filmed on a  DSLR or if shots were just out of focus, but it ends up looking like a poorly shot film because of it. Nevertheless, the cinematography creates an effective claustrophobic atmosphere and builds tension through its use of handheld shots and use of space. It may well be because the production value was low, or the over use of lighting (especially this very orange glow), or the excessive use of handheld shots (I like them, just not all the time) that the cinematography ended up looking uninspired, but frankly it was never distracting enough to ruin the film, or immersion that was building throughout. Secondly there are some questionable editing choices. The film will often cut to black for a few seconds before resuming the next scene/sequence. It is not a new technique and it's not necessarily a bad one, but it seems somewhat out of place, making it feel as if it is the end of a scene, an issue as the movie plays out over a short space of real time, often making it feel like one extended scene.

In terms of acting it is mostly excellent across the board. The most notably good actors are Hugo Armstrong (Roman J. Israel, Esq.) who plays Hugh, Nicholas Brendon (Buffy The Vampire Slayer) who plays Mike and Lorene Scafaria (Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World) who plays Lee. Everyone else plays their roles well, there isn't really any bad acting in this, and these actors adapt well as their characters develop, bringing all their acting skills to the table, and transforming convincingly loveable and charismatic characters into convincingly detestable ones.

But to sum up Coherence it is one of those very clever films that I'm always scouring Netflix for. It's a rare gem among many low budget sci-fi movies that will keep you thinking for a long time after, and make you smile when its twists and turns start popping up. It's enjoyable, thrilling and bloody mysterious. What more could you want?



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