Do you like sci-fi movies that challenge the fabric of reality? I have a request.
Stop scrolling on whatever streaming service you were watching, hop onand watch the 2013 low-budget sci-fi movie Coherence ASAP – it’s free for subscribers, right now. I say. I just watched it…for the fourth time.
The initial premise of Coherence is quite simple. Some friends meet for dinner the same evening when a mysterious comet is to fly overhead. It starts like many indie films, with a troubled romance, tension between exes, and witty banter.
Then the current goes out. It gets weird. Act two.
Unexplainable events ensue as the cast of characters scramble to restore power. Nothing is as it seemed. Some begin to doubt where they are, others are more concerned about who they are. This is not a film about the chatter of old friends. It’s a story about them coming face to face with the terrifying truth of their reality.
If I share more, I risk massively spoiling the shocking revelations uncovered during the film. I can assure you, however, that the on-screen confusion is powerful enough to force you to question your own sanity.
I exaggerate slightly.
The next hour is brimming with twists and turns that could rival those of 2010’s Shutter Island. The film also expertly hints at scientific – and rather philosophical – concepts that likely crossed the mind of the late Stephen Hawking.
Coherence connects the social, personal, and existential consequences that would flow from a complex theory of space and time with thrilling mystery. Scattered with red herrings, easter eggs, and a few ambiguities, Coherence is arguably one of the most mind-bending sci-fi movies I’ve ever seen.
And trust me, I’ve gone through several IMDB sci-fi listings, diligently watching them in order.
Maybe I can sell you the fact that Coherence, which sometimes borders on horror, was made on a limited budget of just $50,000 and shot in just five days. For context, Alfonso Cuarón’s 2013 film Gravity was made with $100 million.
I’ve watched low-budget sci-fi movies recently because I found that what those movies lacked in drama, they overcompensated for in story. Dedication to Operation Avalanche (2016), Another Earth (2011) and Primer (2004).
Coherence, however, was the movie that started my journey.
Interstellar may have offered the stark image of a giant, iconic wave that nearly wipes out the main characters to the tune of Hans Zimmer. The Martian probably stole your heart with its stunning depiction of a barren Mars amidst a blanket of fog. And Arrival might have been the first time you cried over a shadowy alien doing ink sign language.
But Coherence elegantly tells the story of a group of friends grappling with reality, navigating the frightening turns that reality can take – without the help of CGI, from a single location and with just the sounds of actors’ voices.
Director James Ward Byrkit even decided to forego a script for the quietly experimental film. “Every day, instead of getting a script, the actors were given a page of notes for their individual character, whether it was a story or information about their motivations,” he told Indie Wire.
Because the actors were left in the dark about how the story unfolded, any stress and bewilderment in their performances is genuine. The chaotic disarray of the film was Actually happens during the filming of the film.
Consistency will keep you guessing with the actors, elicit audible gasps, and make you feel a bit like a sci-fi spy. Hours into the credits, you might just get chills as previously overlooked clues and nuances slowly overwhelm you.
I actually just got goosebumps thinking about that scene. You will know which one.
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