Critics Consensus

A case study in less-is-more filmmaking, Coherence serves as a compelling low-budget calling card for debuting writer-director James Ward Byrkit.



Reviews Counted: 83

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Reviews Count: 0
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Average Rating: 3.9/5

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Movie Info

On the night of an astronomical anomaly, eight friends at a dinner party experience a troubling chain of reality bending events. Part cerebral sci-fi and part relationship drama, COHERENCE is a tightly focused, intimately shot film whose tension intensely ratchets up as its numerous complex mysteries unfold. (c) Oscilloscope

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Critic Reviews for Coherence

All Critics (83) | Top Critics (20)

  • It's best not to know too much more going in, but suffice it to say Byrkit's parable about choices and how they make us who we are has an eerie potency.

    Feb 12, 2015 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • The larger questions Coherence asks us to consider about parallel worlds are interesting, if not exactly original, while absurdist touches help elevate it from more traditional thrillers.

    Sep 18, 2014 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • At once a suspenseful mind game and a wily mash-up of surreal quantum physics theories, this low-cost thriller proves that something approaching brilliance is not just a function of budget.

    Jul 11, 2014 | Rating: 4/5
  • James Ward Byrkit completes his journey from storyboard writer-director with this overextended but mostly enjoyable trip into the Twilight Zone.

    Jul 10, 2014 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • The film's not perfect-the hand-held camerawork sometimes distracts from the unnerving mood-but it's a good, spooky mind-bender.

    Jun 30, 2014 | Full Review…
  • [The] surprises, while cleverly doled out over the film's brisk 88-minute running time, don't entirely offset the general displeasure of spending time with this particular circle of friends, lovers and old flames ...

    Jun 25, 2014 | Full Review…

    Justin Chang

    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Coherence

Much has been said about Karyn Kusuma's dark mystery The Invitation in 2015. It became the dinner party thriller that people were talking about yet James Ward Byrkit's Coherence (which was first released two years earlier) went largely unnoticed. It did gather some positive word-of-mouth around the festival circuit but this film was more dynamic and much more deserving of a wider audience. Plot: A group of friends meet for an evening of chow and chat on the night that a passing comet flies close to the earth's atmosphere. It's an event that hasn't happened for decades but also has the possibilities of some strange events occurring. The friends soon discover that they might be living in an alternate reality as fear and paranoia creep into their increasingly fraught and tension filled dinner party. Shot on an impressive shoestring budget of $50,000 in one location and with an entirely unknown cast that improvised most of their lines. With this in mind, Coherence has a very strong chance of being an absolute disaster and a word of warning to all budding filmmakers in what not to do. However, it's quite the opposite. Byrkit shows what the possibilities are when the writing is strong and you have a confidence in your approach. He has a fine and steady hand with his direction and delivers a taught, intelligent and hugely involving mystery in his feature debut. Coherence really has no right in being as good as it is but it absolutely works. It's strengths lie in treating the audience with respect and you're left in a position where you have to return the favour. It earns it as it demands your attention to keep up with the twisted and, sometimes confusing, plot developments. That said, Byrkit doesn't want to leave any of his audience behind, so he does take the time to explain his scientific and philosophical theories but he never loses sight of the film's brisk pace and he doesn't forget that the film is essentially a complex puzzle. And a very good one at that. There are some minor plot discrepancies here and there but these do not overshadow the sheer brilliance and execution of its genuis science fiction concept. A remarkably assured debut from a promising new directorial talent. Mark Walker

Mark Walker
Mark Walker

Super Reviewer

An intelligent low-budget sci-fi that does a first-rate job in exploring the many possibilities of its intriguing premise, focusing mostly on a largely improvised dialogue and making use of an expert, minimalist approach that brings to mind the brilliant time travel sci-fi Primer.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer


familiar stranger
familiar stranger

Super Reviewer

Every once in a while an indie horror/sci-fi filmmaker comes forth with an initial feature that will serve as a calling card as he/she cements their name within the genre (e.g. James Wan with "Saw" or Ti West and "The House of the Devil", or Shane Carruth and "Primer") . In the case of "Coherence", even though the story is far better than the restless direction, which I suspect has a lot to do with budget constraints; it is undeniable that Byrkit will be a director to watch out for in the near future. "Coherence" is definitely worth checking out during these late August/early September months when the theater is filled with mediocre big-budget films that production companies have dumped on us like so many buckets of ice water during a drought. Read the rest of my review at: Follow me on Twitter @moviesmarkus

Markus Robinson
Markus Robinson

Super Reviewer

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