I’ve been to worse dinner parties.
Nothing ushers in the arrival of a comet like a dinner party with seven of your closest friends. After all, there’s nothing to worry about right? I mean, comets pass over the earth all the time and things continue on like normal. Not so much this time, because as soon as the comet is overhead, strange things begin happening to this close-knit group of friends that tests their resolve as well as their sanity.
Just in case we are ever at a dinner party together, I think it’s important that you know something about me: I will not join you on any ill-advised excursions into the dark unknown, when obviously spooky things are happening. I will stay put until daylight. Now that I’ve got that off my chest, in the film Coherence, the characters do what most people do in films of this type, they head toward the danger, not away from it. But this is not a typical thriller in any sense, Coherence is a fantastic movie!
Intrigue and tension are introduced in Coherence, even before the comet rears its ugly tail. The movie begins with the announcement that at dinner, the ex-girlfriend will be in close proximity of the new one. Uh-oh. Em (Emily Baldoni, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past) is the current sweetheart of Kevin (Maury Sterling, Homeland), she finds out that big Kev’s ex Laurie (Lauren Maher, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End), will also be at the party. For reasons unknown, or maybe because he’s an idiot, friend Amir (Alex Manugian, Rango), decides to not only date Laurie, but bring her to a party knowing her history with Kevin. Amir, dude, there’s a comet coming, do you really need more sparks flying?
It appears that Laurie has a thing for the guys in this circle of friends –hold on to your men, ladies! Add to the mix prima donna actor Mike, played by Nicholas Brendon, formerly known as Xander Harris, BFF to none other than Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Mike is trying to get his career back on track, with the help of his long suffering wife Lee, played by writer/director Lorene Scafaria (Seeking a Friend for the End of the World). Rounding out the gang is Beth (Elizabeth Gracen, Marked for Death), and her dashing hubby Hugh (Hugo Armstrong).
Directed by James Ward Byrkit, who also co-wrote the script with Alex Manugian, who plays Amir. The two really wrote a concept piece with very little dialogue for the actors to memorize. Each day of shooting, the cast would receive a slip of paper with a general concept for each actor to than improvise from. Their fellow thespians had no idea what each character was going to do, so their reactions were genuine. Byrkit calls this a “controlled improvisation piece,” I call it a bold move with a bigtime payoff.
This is a fabulous cast of actors who are so believable and so natural together, that it’s easy to imagine them as real life friends. I know I’ve been light on the details of the plot of Coherence, but less is more in this case -believe you me. As someone who viewed the film without any spoilers, I can’t imagine watching it any other way. Suffice it to say that the plot involves some quantum physics and a little bit of Schrodinger’s Cat theory. I know, it’s hard to imagine an engaging film dealing with physics of any kind –but trust me, this film will have you on the edge of your seat until the very end.
Coherence is a fine 2.35:1 widescreen presentation brought to us by Oscilloscope Films. Lighting this shoot must’ve been a challenge because some scenes were brightly lit, while others were in darkness, or very dim due to the lights going out during the dinner party. Each setting however, is crisp and clear, and it is still easy to make out faces and figures. The Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound was fabulous, all the dialogue was easy to hear, and the soundtrack was subtle yet effective. Extras include, the audio commentary, a behind the scenes featurette, the theatrical trailer, and the initial camera test for Coherence, with most of the cast that ended up in the final product. So, do yourself and the filmmakers a favor, check this out, buy it, recommend it to friends, anything you can to get the word out, so that we are treated to more imaginative movies like this.
You don’t need a big budget to make a big impact with a film, especially when you have one as creative as Coherence. This is a movie with a unique idea wrapped up in a wonderfully satisfying plot, and proves that financial deficiencies does not have to hamper the making of a brilliant film.
You’d have to be incoherent to find this anything but Not Guilty.