Directed by James Ward Byrkit
In the world of Coherence, strange occurrences have surrounded the appearance of comets in the sky for years. Causing questionable reports of memory loss and bizarre behavior, these stories are exactly the kind of fodder to kick off a dinner party with a bunch of pretentious couples on the night where another comet is passing close overhead. James Ward Byrkit’s first feature film forces a group of pseudo-intellectuals to stop being the center of their own universe and start thinking seriously about what’s happening in the actual universe around them. How they choose to react and how they come to grips with what’s happening will result in their possible survival or ultimate ruin.
After the power goes out as Miller’s Comet crosses the sky above, one lone house a couple of blocks down still has the lights on, leading to an innocent investigation that slowly reveals that a hypothetical anomaly of quantum physics has possibly become a reality thanks to the passing stardust. Bringing back a locked box whose contents should not really exist, a chain of events begins to unfold that threatens to throw the group into turmoil as they begin to question themselves and the people they thought they loved.
It’s the gradual realizations as things get weirder that keep the audience guessing right along with the characters, and the mindblowing observation that things are much more complicated than previously thought that turns the evening into something truly terrifying. Personifying these fears to the best of their ability, Nicholas Brendon and Hugo Armstrong are the clear standouts as things grow more dire, giving strong performances that show both sides of the human psyche: one irrational and violent, one rational and scientific. Emily Baldoni is the star (she is the prettiest, after all) but her role doesn’t really become important until she makes the most disturbing discovery of all.
A little too conveniently, Armstrong’s character finds teacher’s notes in a physics book belonging to his brother that perfectly explains exactly what’s going on, describing the fundamentals of quantum coherence theory. In actuality, there is no general theory of coherence but the film uses it and the concept of its opposite to describe the phenomena that’s occurring outside in their neighborhood. A vortex exists in the darkness somewhere out in the street that causes anyone who walks through it to create an alternate of themselves and, hence, an alternate timeline with countless outcomes. Schroedinger’s cat is also used to describe what’s going on and help the group wrap their brains around the events of the evening.
Coherence is really exploring themes about trust and how the lack of confidence in others can quickly cause relationships originally thought to be sound to deteriorate until the only logical option is to break ties and escape the ugly truth. What’s frightening about the story is how willing the characters are to abandon the reality they know in favor of one that may be a little more appealing. Whether that’s a byproduct of the comet and the rift it creates or caused by the characters undermining everyone else around them to get the life they really want is the fundamental idea of Coherence and what it makes it so unsettling.
3 1/2 out of 5