Coherence, a brilliant lo-fi sci-fi horror indie classic, the brainchild of the seasoned story board artist and first time director James Ward Byrkit just proves again that how the power of thinking and managing your available resources carefully and efficiently coupled with extraordinary talent could out-trump the big budget VFX pyrotechnics of the standard Hollywood supremacy.

Coherence movie review (2014)

A dark ( literally ), intense, complex ( not as complex as “ Primer ” even though you get constant reminders of it when coherence starting to unfold it’s major twists ) and cleverly acted through and through mind bender, this one is really capable of giving you the creeps and chills long after you’ve completed watching it.

The Plot

Eight friends, four couples to be precise at a dinner party in a suburban Santa Monica home laughing, hurling expositories at each other frequently some are not so innocent and even rude, pulling each other’s legs and having a lovely meal together. Just another usual get together of people who are mostly comfortable in each other’s company.

And then there is this comet named miller’s, choosing to pass by way too close to the earth as it completes another ellipse around the mighty sun. Then happens this sudden power cut and unexplained damaging to electronic devices. Probably caused by some unknown phenomenon activated of the nearby passing comet. This enables the nerdy demons buried within the deepest valleys of dark, high end physics mythology to come ashore wrecking mega havoc among all the people who dare to step outside and venture out into the roulette wheel of realities.

A mind bending twist

As stated above, eight friends attend a dinner party, Emily, Kevin, Mike, Lee, Amir, Laurie, Hugh and Beth are those eight friends. They are in a rather happy and joyous get together until the passing by comet have started to cause havoc on them. They decide to venture out the house “few by few “only to find out that they are trapped in a situation they couldn’t think of even their wildest dreams. The comet causes to blur the borders between the alternative realities by intertwining. And their lives are suddenly flooded with many counts of doppelgangers and duplicate situations that they have absolutely no way of getting out.

They “lose ” hug and Amir first, even though there is a huge possibility that Laurie and Amir might not have been the ” originals ” to begin with, and as they figure out bit by bit what’s really  happening around them, chaos ensues and the companions start to get more and more panicky, mad and volatile etc… The fear of unknown versions getting out of hand and harming them becomes paramount and looking out for better alternatives become vastly important among some.

For better understanding of coherence and decoherence phenomenon, lets have a bit of quantum physics approach on Schrodinger’s Cat experiment.

Schrodinger's Cat and Quantum Decoherence


schrodinger’s cat is a thought experiment deviced by the Nobel prize winning 20th century physicist Erwin Schrodinger which illustrates the paradox of quantum superposition.

 It’s a demonstration of the problems created by copenhagen interpretation as he saw it and includes a hypothetical cat, flask of poison, and a radioactive source sealed in a box. The cat is thought to be both dead and alive simultaneously untill observed by an observer who will find out the exact state of the cat upon observing.

Quantum Decoherence is called the loss of Quantum Coherence. When a quantum system is not perfectly isolated the coherence is shared with its environment thus by apparently losing its quantum behavior, analogues to energy being lost to friction in classical mechanics.

A unique approach in making Movies

James Ward Byrkit & Michael Stock: Coherence

Byrkit, who was a long term story board artist for the director Gore Verbinski, gathered few of his friends to his own living room and with five days of intense shooting, mostly improvised without a proper script, and a grand budget of 50 000 bucks, made this goosebumps inducing creep of a movie ( in a good way ). 

After an yearlong pre-planning of lots of charts, diagrams and researching on high end physics jargon like schrodinger’s cat quantum DE coherence, which the latter inspiring the movie’s name. All of the eight main actors were seasoned yet mostly unknown, extraordinarily talented people who had met each other just on the movie’s set for the first time, yet the chemistry and the “realness ” of their bond achieved solidly throughout its 89 minute long run time.

Byrkit, a product of theatre, wanted to test the purist idea of making a film without a crew, a script or even a considerable budget and successfully got it out in the end on the right side.

Alex manugian, who played Amir in the movie was the co-writer and the actors like Lorene Scafaria, Nicholas Brandon and Hugo Armstrong had already been taken part of some significant projects in the past. Mostly improvised dialogue by the well prepared cast has its own moments of witty achievements too.

‘Even, if there are multiple realities exist, I’ve slept with your wife in all of them! ”   Well! That came out absolute nowhere!


Shot by hand-held multiple cameras and under minimum amount of lights as it’s seen sometimes, the movie stay true to the ambitions of the director throughout its run time. Mostly shot inside a living room and within a 12 hour period it feels claustrophobic at some points. The close-in shots really amplify the haunting atmosphere of it. 

It’s definitely not for much younger audiences thanks to strong occasional language and violence towards the end and I would rate 7.5/10 overall. I got one question though! (a huge spoiler ) wouldn’t there be multiple ___ s at the end manifesting that one preferred reality?. I will leave the name blank so you could watch the movie and figure it out by yourself….

A review by Kanchana Rathnasekara 


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