“He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.” That’s Nietzsche, motherfuckers, and that’s exactly what we explore in the panty-dropping enigma wrapped in a mystery dipped in mind-fuckery SciFi psychological thriller that is Coherence. It’s a witty, sadly not-so-titty, gritty exploration of where science meets doppelgangers, meteorites and murder! So basically any family dinner I’ve ever been to.
With a few bumps during takeoff, this thriller managed to level off and deliver a solid Indie flick worthy of your time and semi-sober consideration. There was an awkward, seizure-like cut between early scenes that used abrupt blackouts to move the film forward but just kind of made me nauseous like that one time I accidentally walked in on my mom naked. The 70’s bush (unfortunately) unlike Sasquatch, is alive and well in this millennium. But I digress.
Shortly thereafter, the action ramps up and begins to build in a slow burn that unravels a compelling core mystery, leaving clues for The Scooby-Doo Gang to follow… Regardless of whether or not they should. This compelling character study takes Schrodinger’s Cat out of its box and, subsequently, all hell breaks loose. The more questions get answered, the less is understood and with the clock ticking down, a resolution seems about as likely as getting a hipster to actually admit they’re a hipster.
The genius in Coherence is exactly that; it’s coherent. The film is economical (rarely is a moment wasted), engaging (the cast is eight people, total, and each character draws you in), clever (tossing urbane dialogue like “Wine? Cheese? Ketamine?” at you off the cuff) and leaves you with more to think about than what you sat down with. Imagine Dr. Who got super wasted at an Arcade Fire concert and raw-dogged Memento and you’ll be halfway to the paradoxical, tempura-temporal, deep-fried devolution of the human condition that is this adventure into Indie badassery.
Coherence strips away the layers of superficiality within us all, and exposes the raw nerve of what we’ll do when the rules don’t apply and the game doesn’t have a penalty box. This movie is Lord of the Flies on an acid trip to Pandora’s Box where, once the lid is opened, the characters (most notably Em, played by a deceptively timid Emily Foxler) find that it’s not so easy to stuff their impulses back in a box once they’ve been let out.
The cast is a semi-recognizable mélange of talent who take that initial awkward dynamic, and slight air of forced authenticity, and spin it into a psychological vortex that sucks you in and keeps you riveted until the last minute. I haven’t been this impressed with something since I found out birthday cake Chips Ahoy cookies were a real thing. They’re cookies. And birthday cake. ALL ROLLED INTO ONE. That’s the dream, people, that’s the goddamn dream. And, just like Coherence, I unhinged my jaw and devoured the whole thing in one sitting. That, and looking good hungover, make up the “special skills” section on my resume.
The only thing we know for sure in this killer SciFi thriller is that we don’t know anything (and as the cinematic climax approaches we’re left watching the depths and extremes a collapsing reality can push people into). The deeply scientific and allegorical nature of Coherence leaves us with the idea that we’re, both literally and figuratively, our own worst enemies. Not unlike the time I convinced myself bangs were a good idea. The ending feels slightly rushed and a little along the lines of an unfinished throwaway like “Guys, let’s wrap this up and go for a moderately-priced feast at Applebees!”
Awkward beginning and ending bookends aside, Coherence is a thought-provoking romp through the engagingly creepy Donnie Darko-esqu Mad World of SciFi thrillers. Take the time you’ve set aside to learn how to rap battle and go find a screening of this Indie flick near you. Watch it with your friend, girlfriend, boyfriend, dog, or potted plant named Steve you have surprisingly profound conversations with at three-o’clock in the morning; just fucking watch it. Trust me, I’m a *doctor (*not a doctor).