COHERENCE (2013, streaming on Amazon Prime) is a science-fiction film that goes far beyond its limitations with interesting ideas and a close look at how facing the unknown can punish the human psyche.
The film opens with people arriving at a dinner party, where we get to know their stories, including fertile ground for potential interpersonal conflicts. The group talks about a comet due to pass overhead that night. When cell phones die and the power goes out across the neighborhood, they treat it as just an entertaining twist for the party. But then they notice there’s a house down the street that’s lit up. The house looks like theirs. And there are people inside who look just like them.
Shot over five days on a shoestring and largely improvised by the cast, the film achieves an impressive sum for its parts. It starts off rough, with everybody talking at once during the party, which feels improvised. Once the central conflict reveals itself, however, things get real interesting and the actors fall into a more natural rhythm. The result is sort of a sci-fi BLAIR WITCH PROJECT as they find themselves in an escalating quantum event.
By the end, the characters question who everybody is and even where they are, start to break down facing the unknown, and one of them decides on a dangerous solution.
Overall, COHERENCE doesn’t make any of my sci-fi top lists, but it’s impressive for what it achieves for its limitations, and I found the premise intriguing, with an entertaining result.