Tuesday, 10 February 2015


Over a year since it premiered at 2013's Fantastic Fest in Austin, writer-director James Ward Byrkit's debut feature Coherence slips quietly into a handful of UK cinemas this weekend. It's a no-budget talker doomed to be ignored on the big screen due to a near-complete lack of marketing moolah, and that makes me very sad because it's the kind of cracking, creepy brain-boggler you used to catch on Channel 4 in the middle of the night and then bring up years later at a party where only one other person vaguely knows what you're on about and you immediately have to see it again and then you begin to wonder exactly who that guy was at the party and how did he OH MY GOD WAIT A MINUTE
Firmly in the Primer arena of filmmaking, where the amount of cash available is in indirect proportion to the number of ideas bursting out of the script, Coherence is one of those deliciously simple, effective directorial debuts that signal a potentially formidable talent. Set in one house (kind of), at a dinner party where eight annoyingly WASPish characters yap inanely about yoga and feng shui, it soon veers off into a twilight zone where an indistinct menace drives a twisty, intelligent script towards a genuinely alarming climax. Imagine Friends if Central Perk were an interdimensional portal to existential terror and you're part way there.

Byrkit's skill isn't just in directing eight improvisational actors through his knotty quasi-sci-fi without having them garble incomprehensibly over each other, but also in his efficient script, which doesn't waste a word; the passing mentions of yoga and feng shui become as important to the plot as (ever-so-slightly clunky) exposition about quantum physics and Schrödinger's cat. Mysterious boxes, impossible photographs, convenient power cuts and red herrings all contribute to the general unease, but Byrkit raises some troubling questions along the way we might not be all that keen to answer.

With immediate rewatch value and the certainty that endless diagrams will be posted online to explain its plot, Coherence is way more worthy of your support than certain other current megabudgeted catwank I won't name, like Jupiter Ascending. See it at the flicks from Friday if you can, but in the very likely case that it's not on within a thousand miles of your house, don't panic because it'll be on DVD on Monday. Screw you, "theatrical release window"!

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