COHERENCE

★★★

Dir: James Ward Byrkit (2014)

James Ward Byrkit‘s low budget sci-fi film blends Shane Caruth‘s obscure, sharp and almost impenetrable Primer with the pop horror of a Twilight Zone episode as a dinner party unfolds over one bizarro world night in the American suburbs. The presence of a comet in the night sky brings up a conversational brief history of celestial bodies and their influence on the people of earth before Byrkit takes the intellectual breaks off; Veering between touches of genius and an inane rambling student film aesthetic with a stockpile of science fiction references Coherence is rarely coherent but it’s always interesting.

The dinner party consists of a troubled actor named Mike (Nicholas Brendon) and his kindly hosting partner (Lorene Scafaria); They are joined by potential final girl Em (Emily Foxler) and her man, Kevin (Maury Sterling) and Hugh (Hugo Armstrong) and Beth (Elizabeth Gracen). The tension outside of the horror comes from the lugger-headed Amir (Alex Manugian) whose date (Lauren Maher) is an ex lover of another party guest. It’s a relationship conceit, in a way, which never really bites but Byrikit’s mostly improvised script has a strange air of realism to it, much like Lars Von Trier‘s end of the world depression flick, Meloncholia.

Coherence rolls along with mini twist after mini twist but the amateurish shooting style doesn’t really put us in the room. It’s filled with sci-fi go to moments; Dopplegangers, time-loops and imposters. Some are handled with grace and others like hot potatoes. The characters are all pretty unlikable beasts; neurotic and filled with incestuous secrets and Byrkit’s does them no favours with the plot point placements; They turn up awkwardly, much like unexpected dinner guests, with no wine and no real opinions. But, Byrkit’s non compliance with regard to refusing to dumb things down puts Coherence up into the level of films which beg a second watch.

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