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Dark, twisty sci-fi film turns a dinner party into the Twilight Zone

coherence

Opening Friday at Vancity – Coherence

– by Shawn Conner

There is perhaps no surer sign that summer is over than Coherence. A dark, twisty, low-budget sci-fi flick, this 2013 movie (opening at Vancity this Friday, Sept 12) is a post-blockbuster, early fall film if ever there was one. If you’re still suffering from the post-Transformers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Guardians of the Galaxy hangover (which can strike even those who haven’t seen those movies, due to media overexposure), Coherence will wipe your brain clean.

So what is it, exactly? It’s definitely a movie where the less you know about it. Just the facts, then: eight people have gathered for a dinner party in San Jose, California. They are well-off, part of the cultural elite, with cool jobs (dancer, actor, tech mogul) and the usual hangups (infidelity, rocky relationships). On the night of the dinner party, a comet is passing overhead; there have been whispers that the cosmic event might affect cellphones. Our main protagonist is Emily Foxler, or “Em” (Emily Baldoni). In the film’s most ominous, early moment, she mentions a comet that passed over Finland in the early part of the 20th century. After the comet passed, many residents reported that they were disoriented. One woman even called police to say that the man in her house was not her husband – she knew this, she claimed, because the day before she had killed her real husband.

Things get eerier and creepier from there, as the Internet goes down, the power goes out, and a mysterious box is found. To say any more risks spoiling the movie, which has been compared to Primer and Upstream Color.

Coherence is a first feature from writer/director James Ward Byrkit. Most of the faces are relatively unknown, with various TV parts under their belt. The most recognizable is Nicholas Brendan, who played Xander on seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (in Coherence, the joke is his character was a regular on the series Roswell). Apparently, the film was shot chronologically, with the actors given only enough info to play their scenes as they came up, which might account for the natural feel of many of their characters interactions.

Trailer – Coherence:

Coherence, however, might not be for everyone – for instance, this Village Voice critic, who writes “Coherence is the paradigm [of home-based sci-fi] eating itself, almost literally, flirting with absurdity by way of some hoary pseudo-science, and getting happily lost in the conundrums.”

Coherence is at Vancity Theatre Sept. 12-17. More info at viff.org.

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