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Coherence (2014)

A Review

I sat down to watch Coherence (2014) with high hopes. Several end-of-year best-of lists made reference to it and the premise - friends at a dinner party discover that not everyone is who they seem to be - was promising. But these high hopes were quickly buried under numerous quirks and inconsistencies. It has the feel of improv with delusions of grandeur; or a party game of Clue played on meth.

~ spoilers ahead ~

We open with Blair-Witch-PTSD inducing shaky cam and claustrophobic close ups. It is probably good because it distracts from the stilted, wooden conversation said by unlikable characters. Cameras spontaneously snap. Power flickers on and off. There's a bump outside. Spooky! Somehow this has something to do with a comet. In case we forget, the clunky plot advancement occasionally calls timeout for "weird comet history story time (or meteor, whatever)". There's a conflation of the Schrödinger's cat thought experiment, quantum physics, and parallel universes. It never rises above the drug-assisted pseudo-science found in freshman dorm rooms ("Dude! Have you ever really looked at your hand? And did you hear about the comet?"). Because one of Schrödinger's cat's was dead then, obviously, the people in the parallel universes are out to kill them! Obviously! Things quickly escalate for no real reason. Cue nosebleed on hippie spiritual person!

Parallel time sequences can be tricky to pull off. There's a lot of show-your-math to account for. This film side-steps the issue by first implying that everybody has been dosed with ketamine and is an unreliable. Later, it is revealed that there's not one alternate reality but many; don't worry about keeping track of the timing of how and when the peanut butter got in the chocolate because everything is leaking into everything else at anytime that is convenient anyway. Everyone agrees that these revelations are obvious.

With the comet sputtering out, the sullen Em goes full peeping-tom in order to find a likable cast. Finding one, her plan for happiness is to concuss, repeatedly, her other self in order to take her place. Rather than punting the limp body to another reality she, instead, opts to lock herself in a car. When that goes wrong, she knocks herself out again and hides the body behind a shower curtain (obviously). Sadly, her powers of toilet-lid savagery don't work on the audience's misery. End scene.

See it if: You want to see what not to do with dialog, pacing, plot, or comet preparation.

Seen on: Amazon Prime Instant Video