Schrödinger’s cat threw a dinner party. He would probably serve tuna and
quantum physics. The notion of quantum superposition made famous by the
hypothetical feline becomes a question of life and death for a group of
hipsters when a comet crashes their soiree in James Ward Byrkit’s sf mindtrip, Coherence (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York.
and Lee are hosting some of their closest friends, as well as Amir’s annoying
girlfriend, Laurie, who also happens to be Kevin’s ex, before he started seeing
Em. Although she is attractive, Em is highly insecure and nearly paralyzed with
regret over her past mistakes. She is therefore less than thrilled to see
Laurie, but the comet will provide some timely distractions, spontaneously
cracking cell phones and knocking out the power grid.
a nearby house still has power, Amir and Hugh (the oldest of their circle)
leave to investigate, but return thoroughly spooked. They also bring back a
rather puzzling box. Panic and mystery ensue. However, a key clue might be
found in some notes left by Hugh’s scientist brother referring to Schrödinger’s
to that classic thought experiment, given a certain set of Rube Goldberg pre-conditions,
a cat placed in a box that has equal chance of being dead or alive when the
container is opened, simultaneously exists in both states until an outside
force interrupts, forcing the two existences to collapse into a single reality.
Determining how it applies to them will be an unsettling experience.
takes that cryptic premise and runs with it, steadily raising the stakes and
cranking up the anxiety. Following Darren Paul Fisher’s Frequencies and Richie Mehta’s I’ll
Follow You Down, Coherence
heralds a mini-renaissance for concept-driven micro-budget science fiction with
virtual no special effects. Eventually, Byrkit employs a bit of SFX trickery,
but it is far from the point of the film and spoilery to address in any
how head-spinning Byrkit & Alex Manugian’s story gets, it is hard to
imagine sending the cast out to do it cold improv style, but that is largely
what they did. Mostly just armed only with their prepared situation and
character notes, the ensemble somehow makes it work. Indeed, it is certainly
never a problem for them to look confused or panicked, which is required
throughout most of the second two acts.
casting Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Nicholas
Brendon as Mike, a washed-up former Roswell
co-star is so meta-inspired, Coherence
could have coasted into conventional riff on Night of the Comet and still satisfied fans. In fact, Brendon loses
his cool rather spectacularly as Mike.
she initially seems rather vanilla, Emily Foxley’s Em deftly pulls off a
critical pivot late in the game. Demonstrating consistency under difficult
thesp circumstances, Hugo Armstrong anchors the film and handles the egghead
material with authority as the more down to earth Hugh. Bill Clinton would also
be interested to know former Miss America and elusive Paula Jones witness
Elizabeth Gracen chews her share of scenery as Hugh’s New Agey wife Beth.
is a smart, tense genre outing that thoroughly
shows up big budget tent-poles with its superior inventiveness. Byrkit and
company take a lot of risks, but they all payoff significantly. Highly
recommended for fans of sf and cult cinema, Coherence
opens this Friday (6/20) in New York at the Village East.
Labels: Nicholas Brendon, Schrodinger's Cat, Sci-Fi films