Retro Review: Coherence (2013) | Deez Thoughts #1

One thing I’ve always loved about horror movies are the dozens upon dozens of sub-genres under one black, creepy, slightly-tattered umbrella. And I have to say, between films I’ve seen recently such as The Invitation,  The Perfect Host, and now Coherence, “yuppy LA dinner party” is becoming a new favorite of mine. What’s scarier than small talk and unwanted social interaction? Nothing, that’s what.

Be Our Guest

Sci-Fi thriller Coherence follows 8 friends and the strange evening that follows after a comet passes over their little shindig. Hard not to say more without spoiling, because the fun of this movie is definitely the mystery. A good sci-fi movie usually boils down to the premise and this film has a cool one that’s executed pretty well. It’s the debut film from director James Ward Byrkit and it shows a bit: the lighting isn’t very good, shots aren’t framed particularly well, and the editing (though it might be on purpose) is sloppy and jarring. Byrkit gets a pass that I’ll touch on in a sec, but while I’m complaining I’ll say for a movie so character-centric, the actors left more to be desired. Characters were thin and the actors weren’t bad…just not good either.

What the does do well is the atmosphere and execution of the story. Coherence makes full use of it’s single location. Integrating it in with the plot which adds a thick layer of paranoia, which steeps into the characters brewing frustration and distrust. For a film with no script, the film holds together a narrative full of twists & turns fantastically. This isn’t a sci-fi horror movie that is trying to confuse you like some, but wants you to solve the mystery for that “aha!” moment. And once you have that moment, you instantly go back through the movie and realize all of the tiny clues leading up to the finale. The ending scene says so much without having to anything at all, a beautiful “now what?” shot to cap off the film. Its ambiguous, but at the same time not because you know exactly what the consequences of the film are by the end.

Overall, I enjoyed this little flick. It was a fun mystery that had me saying “what the fuck?” at least 5 times, which to me is always a good sign for a sci-fi thriller. I say horror a lot and it’s definitely not scary, so don’t go in expecting nightmares (unless you’re an introvert which there is a good chance you are). I’m just trying to normalize the word because some people don’t get how big of a genre it is with many sub-genres (as mentioned above). But if you’re looking for something creepy and cerebral, Coherence will get under your skin just fine. Score: 7/10 Glowsticks

The After Party

The biggest takeaway I had from this film, personally, came when researching it afterwards. Byrkit had tiny budget, no script, and really no background in directing a film. But what he did have was a unique idea, a 12-page story treatment, his living room, a cast of willing actors, and motivation. They shot the film over the course of 5-days, with actors each getting notecards with direction rather than lines of dialogue. James Ward Brykit had little to work with and that was his goal, to show that you don’t need a lot to create. These are the kinds of movies I need to watch more of because they are the films I want to create. You don’t need a giant production crew, perfectly lit sets, or even a script to make a movie. Stripping away these things is where true creativity comes from. There is no true process to creating something, in the words of infamous street artist Banksy “Think outside the box, collapse the box, and take a fucking sharp knife to it.” (This box reference will make even more sense after you’ve seen the movie.)

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