Savage science fiction fans will love “Coherence,” a 2013 suspense thriller by James Ward Byrkit, that basks itself in all things supernatural and suspense, with a hint of chilling horror sprinkled throughout.
Like “The Invitation,” “Coherence” is set at a dinner party in a typical suburban home, with eight guests and close friends in attendance. James Ward Byrkit, who serves as writer and director (making his debut with the latter) presents the format in an almost reality show type of way, with unsteady camera work, quick cut shots and off-centered closeups, and weird but completely organic conversations – the ones a group of friends would actually have among themselves if not being filmed for a movie.
As the party is underway, the news is being flooded with photos and information about the passing Miller’s Comet, and we get a glimpse of the ensuing chaos quickly developing as smart phone screens randomly shatter, the internet goes down, and the power in the house goes out. The style mirrors the classic Twilight Zone episode ‘The Monsters are Due on Maple Street’ as we see just what can happen to normal people when challenged with simple adversity.
“Coherence” is so perfectly cast one would think they are watching the latest episode of “Big Brother” or “The Real World” as the party begins and the conversations start. Byrkit intentionally chose lesser known talent and actors that hadn’t worked together before as a way of keeping the guesswork and improvisation natural, and we are the better for it.
Hugh and Beth are the hosts, with Beth (Elizabeth Gracen) a hippie-like, Feng Shui addict said to be “weird with energy” and Hugh (Hugo Armstrong) her mellow and devout husband.
Nicholas Brendon plays Mike, a former actor who is said to have stared in the 90’s hit “Roswell.” In reality, Brendon was in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” at first thought to be a simple Easter egg, but as the story progresses may be something more deeper.
As with any group of friends, we have underlying tension as Emily (Emily Baldoni) is encountering her current boyfriend Kevin’s former flame (Lauren Maher) described by one friend as a “vixeny type who wears very tight, tight, tight dresses.”
“Coherence” takes the art of suspense thriller and incorporates the phenomenon of the passing comet to create a truly unique and chilling premise. A box is discovered outside containing numbered photographs of each of the friends. As events unfold with the power outage, the group begins displaying paranoia and hostility with each other and the rest of the neighborhood. “Were not at war with the house down the street.” Kevin yells at Mike, as a simple dinner party quickly goes awry.
I won’t divulge the answers, or even the actual source of the chaos, you’ll have to watch and decide whats going on for yourself. I enjoyed the premise and the acting, and loved the ending.
It’s November 4, and I miss Halloween already. If you want a leftover thriller and can’t wait the 330 days until next October, give “Coherence” a shot. Die hard fans of science fiction will love it, though casual movie goers may be lost in the confusing elements of science fiction.
by – Matt DeCristo