Friday, June 20, 2014

Movie with Abe: Coherence

Directed by James Ward Bykrit
Released June 20, 2014

Some sci-films take place in the future, or in worlds where technology and society are virtually unrecognizable. There might be aliens or other beings, those who would definitely not be termed human. And then there are those films whose universes don’t look all that different, yet there’s something about the present-day setting that’s off, controlled by a mysterious power that permits bizarre and unexplainable events. The new film “Coherence” uses a meteorological event to inflict slow, seeping chaos on its characters, throwing their lives into turmoil by unpeeling their paranoia and sanity with every new unsettling revelation.

“Coherence” begins the way that some horror films do, with a seemingly harmless and everyday gathering occurring at the home of one friend for a large group. They spend plenty of time preparing food and discussing guests that have yet to arrive, including one unexpected participant whose attendance feels invasive and irritating. Yet the manner in which the story unfolds, segmented by brief jumps in time, indicates that there is far more going on here, and a power outage and phantom knocks soon reveal that, due to this astrological event, there may be more than one reality existing simultaneously, which, at the very least, has the power to unravel these confused and frightened people.

“Coherence” never makes explicitly clear just what is going on and exactly what its parameters. It does, however, clearly indicate that something is amiss, and it’s the sheer terror and befuddlement in its characters’ faces that makes the film work. When humans meet aliens or ghosts in movies, it’s often alarming how quickly they accept the validity of the situation in which they have been put. That’s not the case here, and it’s the characters’ denial of what seems an impossible but uncontradictable truth that truly drives home the effectiveness of its sci-fi premise.

The cast of “Coherence” is made up of mostly unknown faces, led by Emily Baldoni, whose guest TV credits are extensive, and including Maury Sterling, who portrays silent techie Max on “Homeland.” The acting is not central here, as these performance are not meant to be complex or groundbreaking, but simply those of scared, selfish people in the middle of a crisis. The dialogue is far from exceptional too, and its very mediocrity is what makes its surrounding events and concept all the more worthwhile in a haunting and greatly captivating film.


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