“There is another theory: that two states continue to exist separate and decoherent from each other, each creating a new branch of reality based on the two outcomes.”
James Ward Byrkit’s debut film is without a doubt one that will have you talking and discussing with your friends no matter how you feel about it. It’s a low budget sci-fi film that seems taken out of a Twilight Zone episode and it is consistent with what we have seen in other films this year exploring the doppelgänger effect (The Double, Enemy, and The One I Love). The screenplay is well thought out and the story is brilliantly put together, and despite not being a fan of surreal films I actually enjoyed this quite a bit. The dialogue in this film is very casual (Byrkit claims that the characters were allowed to improvise their lines) and it gives the movie a sense of authenticity. The sci-fi elements of the film are enhanced by the eerie score. Many people seemed to have enjoyed this much more than I did and I can understand why. The film’s short running time will garner many re-watches and there are already several interesting theories online about the film’s ending and the clues that Byrkit leaves behind.
The film focuses on a group of eight friends who get together for a dinner party. There is a comet that is going to pass over during the night and some electrical disturbances are expected. During the dinner they begin to experience some problems with their cellphones and there is a power cut in the entire neighborhood. Only one house about two blocks away seems to have energy so two people from the group decide to check the place out and see if they can figure out what is going on. Some surreal events ensue after that and the less you know about them going into the film the better off you are.
Byrkit does a great job of building the tension through the conversations these friends have with each other. The performances from the relatively unknown cast are all solid and in order to give the film an even stronger sense of authenticity it is filmed in documentary style with shaky cameras and several in and out of focus images, which I thought were a bit too distracting. Coherence also suffers from being too talky at times since there is a lot of exposition and explanation of theories in order for us to understand what is going on. I still want to give the film credit for exploring a familiar subject matter in a quite inventive and original way. Byrkit does a lot with the few resources he had to work with and he should have no trouble in getting his next project financed after this. Coherence is a film you just have to sit back and enjoy for what it is: an entertaining sci-fi film exploring our singularity and how far we would go to defend our individuality.