Ginger Nuts of Horror
Considering it's a film that essentially consists of a group of people in one location, shouting at each other as tensions grow and suspicions mount, it is remarkable how captivating it is.
Dir: James Ward Byrkit
On the night a comet is due to pass close to Earth, four couples gather at one of their homes for a dinner party. These people all know each other, are friends for the most part, though it's clear early on there are underlying tensions, secrets and wavering loyalties. The party begins innocuously enough, with conversation revolving naturally around the comet and partly remembered tales from past celestial events. Small, inexplicable events (phones shattering, internet signal no longer available) are passed off as nothing to worry about. Then, the lights go out and that's when the weird shit really starts to happen...
Coherence is an astonishing film, especially considering it is director and writer, James Ward Byrkit's, first film. Showing again what can be accomplished with a tiny budget and a great script and cast, it marks him out as a talent to watch. But what of the film itself? Well, it's one of those movies that's extremely difficult to discuss without giving significant details away. Loathe as I usually am to post 'spoilers', I have to be even more careful here.
What I can say is, whilst it's not a 'found footage' film, it does share that style of film-making with its shaky camera work and intimate filming. There's an almost voyeuristic quality here that puts you right in the middle of the gathering, makes you feel like one of the cast and I think this helps you to relate to the characters. Also, the acting is wonderfully natural, the actors very much at ease with each other and the dialogue is convincing and realistic; you get the distinct impression that there was a fair amount of improvisation going on around the scripted story and this lends to its authenticity, it realism. There's a little bit of contrived, forced dialogue near the beginning, in order to push you mind in certain directions, but this is a gamble that just about works. Without it, plot points later on might have appeared even more forced.
As to the story itself - it's definitely a SF film and while not as high-brow (or as perplexing and distancing to some) as Primer, it shares some of that movies DNA. There are also some scenes that made me jump and while they were of the loud noise variety, they never felt cheap or forced; all of it added to the tension and confusion. I did think it could have gone further in respect of a more horror leaning, but I expect that wasn't really the intention and there's enough here to satisfy fans of DIY, low-budget film-making. In this, it reminded me a little of Absentia, although I felt that acting was much better than in that admittedly great film. Ultimately though, it is a film that structurally and thematically (in places) put me in mind of Christopher Smith's Triangle, and I expect if you liked that movie, you'll like this one.
Considering it's a film that essentially consists of a group of people in one location, shouting at each other as tensions grow and suspicions mount, it is remarkable how captivating it is. This is a film that is a rare find - a high-concept, low-budget film that would be accessible to most genuine film-buffs. Great stuff. I loved it.
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