“With better and more professional looking camerawork, I might have enjoyed the film but, as it is, I just cannot recommend it.”
by Martin Hafer
I am very happy I did not see this one on the big screen
When Coherence debuted this summer, it earned very little money. So far, since its release in June, this independent film has earned less than $69,000. So it’s very likely a film you haven’t yet seen. As for me, I am actually very thankful I didn’t see it in the theater–and it’s for a reason you might not anticipate. It’s not because the plot is bad (it’s kind of interesting actually) but because the film has horrendous camerawork. I assume that the camerawork is supposed to be hip or exciting–but to me it is nausea-evoking and if I’d seen it on the big screen, I probably would have gotten a headache or begun vomiting. This is because the entire movie has a hand-held camera look and the picture almost never stays still. It almost always bounces around and won’t stay on any one object.
Now this might work for a very limited number of films–such as a ‘found footage’ film like The Blair Witch Project. So why, then, does the camera keep moving with a film like Coherence? And, why are some of the edits (particularly early in the film) so seemingly random and some shots out of focus? If you see it, you might just want to take a few Dramamine in order to cope with the camera’s movement–which I expect with home movies but not with a film lasting nearly 90 minutes. Can the movie itself manage to overcome this annoying camerawork and make it all worthwhile?
Coherence is set during a dinner party where lots of disparate friends have come together for a nice evening of food and conversation. This occurs during a time when a comet has come very close to the Earth. Inexplicably, it seems to be causing some strange phenomena–such as cell phones which shatter and an internet which no longer functions during the course of the evening. However, the weird happenings get far weirder and the film begins to look a lot like The Twilight Zone–especially like one of my very favorite episodes, The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street. Not surprisingly, the guests all begin to freak out and paranoia and fear begin to grip them. What, exactly, do they experience? See the movie if you want to know.
The film turns out to have some positive things going for it. The story is quite creepy and its creepiness is heightened by the music and mood–and it gets creepier as the film progresses. With better camerawork, it really would have had a lot more chance to work. Now this isn’t saying that the script is perfect. A few of the friends at the party are a bit broadly written and annoying–and you question why the other people would associate with them (such as the lady who is into mysticism and the ‘funny guy’). But the story is a good example of making the most of a simple idea and setting.
For me, the camerawork was unfortunately a deal-breaker. In other words, it was so bad that it really ruined the film. You’ll apparently love it or hate it. With better and more professional looking camerawork, I might have enjoyed the film but, as it is, I just cannot recommend it. I should point out, however, that there are parts of the film that show the filmmakers have promise and I would like to see more of their work in the future provided they do something about the film technique they use—please, no more camerawork that looks like it was done by attaching a mini-cam to a dog or cat!