I’ve never been a huge fan of Sartre but he was definitely right about Hell being other people and for me there’s rarely anything more hellish than a middle class dinner party. Many is the time, making small talk with the dissatisfied or the smug over quinoa while their partner plays footsie under the table and the sodding Buena Vista Social Club album plays in the background, that I’ve prayed for a band of animal mask-sporting psychopaths armed with crossbows would start picking off my fellow guests (You’re Next), fantasised that we’d all be possessed by the spirit of Harry Belafonte and dance to the Banana Boat Song (Beetlejuice) or even wished that a crew of belligerent Klingon’s would beam down (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country) expecting to trade Shakespearean quotes over aperitifs. Hell is most definitely other people.

On the eve of a spectacular stellar event, the passage of a mysterious comet, a group of friends gather at the home of actor Mike (Buffy’s Nicholas Brendon) and his wife Lee (Lorene Scafaria) for a dinner party. They’re a mismatched bunch of creative and media types, satisfied and successful, and the wine and chit-chat is soon flowing. But as the comet passes, a power cut plunges them into darkness, their mobile phones break and someone, or something, outside seems to be stalking them. Spotting a nearby house that still appears to have power, the party fragments, a group venturing into the darkness to seek help from the neighbours only to discover a dinner party in progress…the same dinner party they’ve just left…and they’re all in attendance…

It’s almost impossible to review James Ward Byrkit’s low budget, slow-burning, cerebral headscratcher Coherence without offering spoilers so if you’re the type of person who likes to view a film cold (a) what the hell are you doing reading movie reviews? And (b) stop reading now! Like an episode of The Twilight Zone directed by Bunuel, a David Lynchian nightmare imagined by Shane Carruth, the pleasure of Coherence lies in the unravelling of its Moebius strip plot, Byrkit building a pervasive sense of dread as his baffled and terrified protagonists grapple with quantum physics and the nature of the trap they’ve found themselves in. The performances are subtle and low-key, Emily Baldoni perhaps the most affecting as de facto protagonist struggling dancer Em, the only member of the group dissatisfied with her lot for whom the terrifying event may offer opportunity as well as terror.

A convoluted shaggy dog story perpetually trying to bite its own tail, Coherence is light on gore, effects and outright scares but it’s a fascinating, unnerving, metaphysical horror story that plays on our paranoia, our mistrust of our loved ones, our inability to trust even ourselves. And if in the end Coherence isn’t 100% coherent, who cares? It’s the most intelligent, mind-bending little chiller you won’t understand this year.


Movie Review: Coherence
4.0Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)

About The Author