Why has the science-fiction genre developed such an ardent dislike for old friends getting together? Over the past year we’ve seen a brunch get disrupted by a chemical weapon in It’s a Disaster, a quintet of pub-crawling British mates face off against killer robots in The World’s End, and a party attended by everyone who’s ever met Judd Apatow come to an apocalyptic conclusion in This Is the End. Now along comes Coherence to show that civilized dinner parties can succumb to sci-fi shenanigans as well.
In an impressive big-screen debut from James Ward Byrkit, eight friends discover metaphysics on their menu when a passing comet creates a set of doppelgängers down the road, enjoying their own identical soiree. Byrkit makes the most of the claustrophobic one-house setting, ratcheting up the dread and paranoia as his characters make a string of seemingly reasonable but ultimately wrongheaded decisions. The star-free cast is great too, with Buffy the Vampire Slayer vet Nicholas Brendon poking fun at himself by playing an actor who used to be on a TV show.
The wordy end product may be short on demons and murderous droids, yet Coherence is a satisfying and chilling addition to the ever-growing pal-ocalypse subgenre. And really, you have to love a film that not only explains the concept of Schrödinger’s cat but also includes a joke about it (“I’m allergic!”). B+