FEARNET Movie Review: 'Coherence'



A group of self-obsessed but generally likable friends get together for a quiet little dinner party, and eventually the conversation touches upon a comet that's supposed to be soaring far overheard at the very moment -- and that's when you get the first clue that the odd indie sci-fi thriller Coherence is about to become something very familiar... or very weird. Fortunately this is not your standard tale of suburban home invasion, or at least not a home invasion story you've seen before. 
More than a little loquacious but certainly crafty and sly enough to warrant so much circuitous banter, Coherence would make for an amusing double feature with the recent indie sci-fi thriller known as Plus One. Both deal with doubles (or clones from alternate dimensions, if you like) and how a small group of insightful chatterboxes manage to discover the secrets behind all the unexpected copycatlike goings-on.
To divulge that Coherence deals with anything beyond "potential doubles from alternate dimensions" would be a disservice to the nifty concept presented by director / co-writer James Ward Byrkit (a production artist turned screenwriter who also did a lot of voices in Rango, which has nothing to do with Coherence but it seemed interesting to me) and a cast of low-key but excellent actors who take to this crazy story with what seems like a lot of intelligent improv skills. 
The most recognizable face on Coherence belongs to Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Nicholas Brendon, as the host of the dinner party, but there's not a weak link in the entire cast -- and that really helps once Coherence progresses from a clever but talky concept into a full-bore story that keeps its wheels spinning while also getting enjoyably confusing once or twice.
The fun of the movie lies in the viewer discovering the clues and revelations along with the characters, and while the frequent chit-chat may be a turn-off for more impatient viewers, but it seems plainly evident that Mr. Byrkit and his collaborators have a firm handle on a weird premise, and the result is a low-key mind-bender that feels half-scripted, half improvised, and -- for the most part -- rather surprisingly compelling.
But you better be prepared to pay attention.