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Film Review: Coherence (2013)

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SYNOPSIS:

Strange things begin to happen when a group of friends gather for a dinner party on an evening when a comet is passing overhead.

REVIEW:

Hurray! A sci-fi movie! I love sci-fi films, although I’m always a little afraid of a low budget one. It’s hard to do good science fiction on a small budget without the end product being just laughable.

A group of friends gather for an evening of wine and food on the night the Miller’s Comet is scheduled to cross over. As all the people arrive, we get a feel for the personalities and social dynamics of this group.

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We have a hippy dippy new ager, just coming off her 21 day “cleanse”. The ex boyfriend of one of the other guests,and his new girlfriend that apparently no one likes very much but they all try like heck to be polite. An recovering alcoholic actor still living out his short-lived glory on a tv series. The actor’s long suffering wife. A young dancer/choreographer having personal issues that have crippled her career. A middle aged white male professional. Generally, a bunch of urban professionals having a nice meal.

Of course, the conversation at the table centers on the comet and about strange events that have happened in the past when other comets have passed over. People losing their memories, wandering lost, and generally acting weird. Through the course of the conversation, we find out that several of the guests have had their iphone screens explode for no reason. They assume it must be the comet.

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Foreshadow, much?

Then the phone lines start to fail, and the internet goes down. Then the power goes out.

So what else do you do? They walk outside to see the comet go by and realize the entire neighborhood is out…except for one house. Maybe solar powered? or a generator?

Upon returning back inside, glasses are broken. They weren’t when they left.

So they all sit by candlelight and colored glowsticks (that’s important later) and continue to share bizarre comet stories. One guest informs the others that his brother ( apparently a scientist, or LSD-addled philosopher, who is not at the party) said to call if anything strange happened when the comet passed over. So he and another guest leave to go the house with power, hoping they have a land-line phone that’s working.

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Suddenly someone pounds on the door, but no one is outside. Then the power comes back on, and the guys who left come back, although one of them has a mysterious wound on his head.

They return with a lock box they picked up outside the other house, although no one seems to know why they have it. So of course they open it. It contains pictures of everyone at the party, and they are numbered on the back. And that’s where everything gets REALLY strange.

So as the night wears on, the guests gather clues to try and sort it all out. The more they think they know, the less they actually do know. The atmosphere at the party changes rapidly and fear starts to set in.

This is a smart film that focuses on character and how people react under stress. A great science fiction story that does not rely on special effects or camera tricks. Just the characters attempting to solve the riddle of what’s happening to them. A very Twilight Zone type story that is well written, well acted, and creatively filmed. There is a lot of sci-fi techno-babble, but it is laced with actual scientific theory, just enough to make the story believable. At least, as believable as science fiction gets.

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As a sci-fi fan, I thought I knew what was going on. I didn’t. In fact, I was a million miles off of the answer. I like that a lot. I hate being able to figure it out too early.

A film like this, that focuses on character, really needs a strong cast. The ensemble in this story are very talented indeed:

Nicholas Brendon – Buffy the Vampire Slayer (series), Chainsaw Sally:the Animated Series

Emily Baldoni – Legend of the Seeker

Maury Sterling – Deadwood, ER, 24, Homeland

Elizabeth Gracen – Highlander:The Raven,

Alex Manugian – Rango, The Lion King 1 1/2

Lauren Maher – Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy

Hugo Armstrong – NCIS

Lorene Scafaria – Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist

writer/director James Ward Byrkit – Rango

This is a solid cast and crew, with serious credentials, and they really gave us a quality product.

One a scale of one to ten, ten being awesome, I’m giving this film 8 glow sticks.

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