COHERENCE (2013) – ILLUSTRATED EXPLANATION


Coherence is a film about a group of eight friends
who while attending a dinner party suddenly find themselves trapped in a web of intertwining versions alternate realities which
host other of themselves. It’s a mind bending tale, with friends unwittingly
switching places and today we’re going to unpick how it everything unfolds. Be warned, this video is full of spoilers
and assumes that you have watched the film. Emily is our protagonist and in the film we follow
her continuously – so we start with the original Emily and we end with the
original Emily. Emily is dating Kevin and although they appear
happy and in love there’s some tension under the surface. Kevin is due to go away to Vietnam for four
months on a work trip and he wants Emily to go with him but she is hesitant to up and
leave and say goodbye to her existing life in America. To add to that Emily is also insecure about
Kevin’s previous relationship with Laurie who is also at the dinner party. Laurie has been brought along by Amir, a mutual
friend of all those present at the dinner party and it seems that Amir and Laure have recently
begun dating. Emily is unsettled by this and doesn’t trust
Laurie’s motives for suddenly deciding she wants to date Amir and then conveniently appearing at a dinner party where she
knows Kevin will be present. Kevin too is surprised by Laurie’s appearance
and not knowing how to react, tries to shrug off any awkwardness. Mike – who is hosting the dinner party with
his wife Lee – makes a crack about Amir hooking up with Kevin’s ex and the guests let the
comment pass with embarrassed smiles and laughter. Laurie is clearly not liked by the group and
she uspets Mike by failing not to recognise him as an actor who was one of the leads on
the TV show Roswell. Despite her claiming to love the show Laurie doesn’t recognise
Mike at all. Mike is sensitive about his lack of
success as an actor and Laurie’s comment does not go down well. He then makes a crack about
Laurie being a yoga teacher and Laurie seems confused, as she had corrected that misconception earlier
in the evening, saying that she works with outreach programmes in silicon valley. Mike’s wife Lee appears to be having much more
success in her career, she works for Skype and the couple have relocated to where they
are now because of her job. It’s hinted that Mike has a hard time dealing
with the disparity in their respective professional success levels. It’s also revealed that Mike is a recovered
alcoholic. Laurie also upsets Emily by bringing up a
dance project that Emily worked on but was later cut out of. Emily explains what happened with dignity
but Laurie makes an ill-judged comment as to how the dancer who replaced Emily
to find huge success is now living the life that Emily should have. Beth – the hippie of the group, who believes
in crystals and energy and so on and so forth – objects to Laurie’s comment and applauds
Emily for the life she does have. Beth is married to Hugh and while he doesn’t
have the same beliefs as his wife he indulges her. The pair are happily married and Hugh
has no idea that 12 years ago Beth and Mike had a romantic encounter. The logic of the film stems from Schrodinger’s
Cat thought experiment which describes a situation where a cat is in a box with a vial of poison.
In quantum physics the cat is thought to be both dead and alive simultaneously until the
box is opened and the cat is observed to have collapsed into one specific reality. In the film a comet is passing over the Earth
and with that strange things happen. Like the cat, our group exists in multiple realities simultaneously. All alternate realities are
intertwined because of the comet which means that there is not just one house where the eight friends are having dinner, there are
multiple houses, perhaps even an infinite number of houses where other versions of the
eight friends are also having dinner. Between these houses a dark area exists and when
someone from one reality steps into this dark area they walk out into another area, as
if they are on a roulette wheel. The logic of the film also appears
to say that once the comet passes people are stuck in whichever
reality they are in at that time. So in the film we have the original group
that we see having dinner. But before we begin following each person
and figuring out who gets lost in the dark area and who ends up where from the dark area,
let’s take a closer look at Laurie and Amir. In the film, the pair arrive late to dinner
and they may have already walked through the dark area, therefore meaning that they have
arrived in a reality that wasn’t previously their own. That would explain why Mike thinks
Laurie is a yoga teacher and why Laurie didn’t recognise
Mike from Roswell. Perhaps she wasn’t make a spiteful remark, perhaps she genuinely didn’t
recognise him because in the reality she came from Mike didn’t star in Roswell. Similarly Amir seems surprised to find out
that Lee has a sister when everyone else in the group seems to know this fact. So bearing this in mind, our group of originals
may already have different versions of Laurie and Amir than what previously
existed in that reality. But as the previous versions of Laurie and
Amir don’t make an appearance in the film, we’ll refer to this first group as the originals. Dinner is taking place in House 1 and Emily
and Hugh both have broken phones owing to some kind of interference by the comet. There’s a sudden blackout and Mike offers
the group a set of red, green or blue glow sticks to open up and the group opts for the
blue glow sticks. So this is House 1, with two broken phones
and blue glow sticks. Mike then steps outside and spots another
house that’s all lit up and the group leaves House 1 to look at the lit up house and once outside
they pause to admire the comet passing overhead. They then go back to their house but is it
their house? There’s a broken glass on the table that
wasn’t broken in the previous house and someone mentions how they didn’t notice
the glass breaking. We are in fact in House 2. The group have found themselves in a different
house where the table is laid and where presumably another version of their group were having
dinner when the blackout happened. But in this house someone broke a glass and
since the house is empty, the previous group from this house must have also decided to
go outside and they have since disappeared into the dark area leaving the house free
for our group of originals to enter. Once in this house Hugh and Amir decide to
go and visit the lit up house to try and borrow a phone because Hugh wants
to contact his brother. Hugh’s brother is a physicist and he’s
told Hugh to call him if anything strange happens. The group say goodbye to Hugh and Amir not
realising that this is the last they will see of the Hugh and Amir from the original
group as they disappear into the dark area and exit into an alternate reality that we
the audience do not follow. Left by themselves the rest of the group
discuss the comet further and are spooked by a loud bang on the door. Kevin then opens the door only to find
no one there. Mike then manages to get the generator working
so the lights are back. Then another Hugh and Amir
walk through the door. None of the group realise that this Hugh and
Amir aren’t their Hugh and Amir and in turn this Hugh and Amir don’t realise that this
is not their original group of friends. Hugh is bleeding, having fallen at the other
house and he appears extremely agitated by what he saw when he was there. Amir has also brought back a box from the
other house which Mike manages to open with ease. The group finds their pictures inside
the box with numbers written in red ink on the back. There’s also a random ping pong
paddle in the box. Panicked by their pictures, the group wonder
if they are on some kind of hit list and they demand to know what Hugh saw in the other
house and he reveals that he saw a group of their doppelgängers also having dinner. The group is understandingly disbelieving
and think that Hugh and Amir must have circled back around to House 2 and knocked on their
own door before fleeing. They reason that that was the knock they heard before when
they opened the door to find nobody there. Hugh is adamant that this is not the case
and he decides to go back to the other house and reattempt to use their phone. He writes
a note in case he finds no one there but before he can leave again someone else leaves a note
on House 2’s door and the group are stunned to realise that it’s an identical copy of
the note Hugh has just written. Some time later Lee and Beth tend to Hugh’s cut on his forehead
and Lee gives him a cloth bandage. Back in the dining room the group are still
looking at their pictures with the numbers on them and trying to decipher what it all means.
This is when Amir realises that the picture in the box of him was taken that night but
he doesn’t recall taking any pictures at all. Emily makes a note of all the numbers on the
back of their pictures in a notebook and she writes the numbers in red ink, to match the red
ink used on the back of the pictures. The group then decides to split up and take
a look at the other house. This time it’s Mike, Laurie, Kevin and Emily
who go while Hugh, Amir, Beth and Lee stay. Those who leave group cross into the dark
area and find another house just like the one they left. Let’s call this house
House 3. Mike peeks in the window and sees another Lee. The group leaves disconcerted and alarmed
only to bump into another set of themselves Mike, Laurie, Kevin and Emily but this time
they are holding red glow sticks. For ease, let’s assume that this group comes
from House 3, so House 3 will be one where the red glow stick box has been opened. Terrified the two groups run in opposite directions
and our original Mike, Laurie, Kevin and Emily emerge from the dark area into yet another
house – House 4. In this house exists another set of Hugh,
Amir, Beth and Lee – separate from the ones left behind in House 2. In this house Lee
is away sleeping but everyone else is in the dining room. When the originals tell House 4 what they
have witnessed and Mike goes onto state that the members of this house all have blue glow
sticks, Hugh and Amir realise that somehow they have ended up in the wrong house. Beth doesn’t seem surprised to be told they
are the blue glow stick house. Mike, Laurie, Kevin and Emily all have blue
glow sticks. But Hugh and Amir are in possession of red
glow sticks. Beth mentions that there’s a Physics book
in Hugh’s car that might have some answers as to what is going on. Hugh and Kevin go
off and retrieve the book from Hugh’s car. The book itself isn’t of much help, but there
are notes inside the book left by Hugh’s brother which describes something called Quantum
Decoherence. Essentially Hugh’s brother describes different
realities existing simultaneously but separately owing to a phenomena called Quantum Decoherence
and the passing comet in the film has somehow caused the Decoherence to be broken and that
is how the different realities have all started to interact. At this point most of the group believes that
there are only two houses – their blue house and a red house and Mike freaks out and comes
up with a plan to kill the other people in the red house. Mike feels this way because he is afraid of
what his other self will do, knowing that he himself is now thinking of killing the
other group. Mike knows his issues with drinking and feels
that if the Mike from the red house is drinking then he could easily come over to their
blue house and violently kill them all. The group all resist Mike’s plan and in
particular Hugh and Amir who both now believe they come from the red house. Hugh even suggests taking the box back – giving
him and Amir a chance to return to the house they believe they came from and Amir points
out that the people in the other house could literally be the same people as them. Kevin remembers that in the other house Mike
saw Lee in the dining room when he peeked into the window, meaning that in the other
house it could be Beth that’s asleep and as Beth was the one in their current house
who suggested getting the Physics book from Hugh’s car it’s impossible that the other
group are having the same conversation over in the other house, therefore Mike from the
red house isn’t plotting to kill them all. Mike calms down somewhat but still wants to
go over to the other house and steal the other house’s book in order to prevent them from
having any chance of a similar conversation which might lead the Mike from the other house
into thinking about killing them. He demands that Hugh hand over his keys so Mike can go
over and steal the book from the other house’s version of Hugh’s car. Hugh point blank refuses, believing that he
is from the red house and not wanting to aid and abet Mike’s volatile plans. But Mike is still intent on his scheme and
he secretly tells Kevin that he is going to go over to the red house and blackmail the
red Mike with knowledge of his encounter with Beth 12 years ago in order for the red Mike
to stop the red group from discovering the book. Kevin tries to persuade him to stay but Mike
sneaks away from the house and this is the last time that we will see the original Mike
in the film. He will disappear into the dark area and presumably emerge into another reality
that we will not follow in the film. Lee wakes up and rejoins the rest of the group
and it emerges that she took some drops that Beth gave her. The drops had some horse tranquilizer
in them and some of the group immediately want to latch onto the idea that perhaps Beth
laced their food with the drops which might explain what they are going through. After fierce denials from Beth and reasoning
from Hugh that a group hallucination does not make any sense the rest of the group realise
that there is no convenient alternative explanation of what is happening. Somehow they exist in
a place with another reality of themselves. This is when Beth and Lee have a throwaway
conversation about a plant in the kitchen. Beth admires it and Lee tells her it’s from
a thrift store. Emily is shocked to hear this conversation
as she has already heard it once before, right at the start of the evening when she entered
House 1. This is her first clue that somehow she is
not in the first original house she was in, she has somehow found herself in another house
and another reality – and as we have worked out – she is actually in House 4. In the meantime, Hugh and Amir decide to sneak
away, back to their house. They take the book and the box that they brought over but notice
something – this time the random object that they place in the box is an oven mitt. In House 2 the random object that Hugh and
Amir brought over in the box they stole was a ping pong bat but in this house, House 4
the random object is an oven mitt. By this point another Mike from another reality
has returned to House 4. He believes he’s come back after 45 minutes
while Kevin tells him he’s only been gone for five – indicating that they are from different
realities. This Mike tells Kevin he just left a blackmail
note for the other Mike although he did contemplate breaking into Hugh’s car and stealing their
physics book. The group then discover that Hugh and Amir
have left and it dawns on them that their Hugh and Amir was not their original Hugh
and Amir. There is another blackout and then the group
hear a car window smashing. They all leave the house together to investigate and they
see that Hugh’s car window has been smashed. The group then decide to check their own individual
cars. Emily goes to her car and retrieves a ring from her glove box
that Kevin gave her. She’s then startled by a knock on her window
and she sees Kevin. The couple hug and Emily asks if they are
OK as she’s feeling insecure after learning of an encounter that Kevin and Laurie had
in a hallway earlier that evening. They had engaged in mild flirting with Laurie
even kissing Kevin and all this was seen by Beth who later relayed it to Emily. Kevin reassures Emily that they are fine and
relieved Emily moves the conversation on to whether anything was missing from Hugh’s
car. Kevin seems nonplussed and Emily says they just checked on Hugh’s car and asks
again if anything was missing. This is when the pair realise that they are
not each other’s Kevin and Emily. They have encountered versions of Kevin and Emily from
realities not their own. Frightened the couple back away from each
other and Emily returns to House 4 where the rest of the group have reconvened. This is when Hugh and Amir return but a completely
different pair of Hugh and Amir from all the others that we have seen previously. This Hugh has a different type of bandage
on, they both have blue glow sticks and they have returned with a book. This Hugh and Amir were trapped in a different
red house for a short period of time and upon realising their mistake they snuck off with
the book to return to House 4 which they believe is their original house. This Hugh reveals that in the other red house
he never managed to send his note and this group realise that if this Hugh didn’t send
them a note then there must be yet another Hugh who did manage to leave them a note as
their house is in possession of two notes. From this the group establish that they are
dealing with multiple realities – not just two. They then decide to create a marker for their own
house so they can identify if this is the correct house should they leave and come back. In order to make a marker they collect pictures
of themselves, throw some dice and put the numbers thrown on the back of their pictures
in blue ink as they are the blue glow stick house and they also put a random object in
the box – in this case a coaster. They are mimicking what other houses have
done – the boxes that Hugh and Amir have been stealing were identifiers that other houses
created for themselves. Once this group finish making their identifying
box Lee wonders how the numbers thrown this time round compare to the numbers thrown
in the box that was stolen. Original Emily is curious and pulls out the
notepad where she had written the numbers from the stolen box down and discovers that
instead of red ink, she has written the numbers in green ink. Hugh then shows her his phone to her and she
sees that it’s not cracked, as it was at the very start of the evening. This confirms to her that she has somehow
found herself in the wrong house. She realises that when she, Kevin, Mike and
Laurie left House 2, they ended up in a different house to the one that they came from. In this house, House 4, only Beth and Lee
belong as they never left. In this house the stolen box had pictures
with numbers written in green ink on the back, presumably why another Emily must have noted
down the numbers in green ink on her notepad. This means that the stolen box must have come
from yet another house, where they must have opened up the box of green glow sticks. At this point it’s all a mess, people have
ended up in houses and realities in which they do not belong. Emily confides her findings to Mike who she
believes is her original Mike as she doesn’t know he snuck off earlier in the evening. Their conversation is interrupted when another
note is left on their door and Hugh reads it. This note is a blackmail note left by another
Mike for this Mike and when Hugh reads it he finds out about Mike and Beth’s affair. Hugh is furious and all hell breaks loose
but Mike reveals that Hugh is angry with the wrong Mike and that they come from different
realities. He asks Hugh to reveal whether his phone is
broken or not and Hugh shows him that it isn’t and this is when Laurie and Kevin from the
original group realise that they are dealing with a different Hugh from
their original Hugh. Original Emily has of course already figured this out. Mike then asks Hugh what random item was in their
stolen box and Hugh says a stapler. This shocks Lee and Beth and they declare
how their house, House 4, found an oven mitt in their stolen box. The originals then say that they had a ping
pong bat. We saw this back in House 2. And this Mike reveals how he comes from a reality that had a napkin in their stolen box. Mike then makes an ill advised comment about
how he has slept with Beth in all realities and Hugh punches him in the face. The pair
are separated and Original Emily is left with Mike who has resigned himself to staying in
this reality – realising that he will never be able to get back to where he came from
as the dark area is a game of chance. Suddenly another Mike – one with a green glow
stick – enters the house and violently attacks this Mike in House 4. The rest of the group
re enter the dining room and ward off the violent Mike. Beth – who has a nose bleed, bleeds on Laurie
who has a meltdown as she cannot stand the sight of blood and chaos descends on House 4. This is when original Emily decides that she
cannot stay in this reality. She knows that by the time the comet passes
she will be stuck in whatever reality she is in at that time and she decides to find
a better alternative. She goes into the dark area and wonders from
alternative reality to alternative reality and in most she sees that mayhem reigns. Fights
have broken out and the groups have become fractured. But then Emily finds a group where they are
intact and happy. This group has stayed together the entire night and have not left their house
– they have had a pleasant dinner party and nothing more has occurred. Emily sneaks into the house and observes how
happy everyone is. The couples are intact, Amir and Laurie look cosy and her doppleganger
and Kevin are happily making plans for their trip to Vietnam. Original Emily decides that this is the reality
for her and in order to replace this House’s Emily she goes outside and breaks a car window
in order to lure the group out of the house. She knows from earlier that night that this
will lead to Emily from this house back to her car where she will retrieve the ring that
Kevin bought her. When this happens original Emily renders her
doppleganger unconscious using Beth’s tranquilizer and original Emily then takes this house’s Emily’s place. But unfortunately for original Emily this
is not the last she sees of the other Emily as somehow the other Emily manages to
struggle back into the house and original Emily spots her
crawling into the bathroom. Original Emily follows her into the bathroom
and viciously attacks her once again. She renders the other Emily unconscious and in the process loses her ring in the bathroom. Original Emily grabs the other Emily’s ring and leaves her in the bathtub. Original Emily then rejoins her friends but
the entire night has gotten too much for her and she faints. The next morning original Emily wakes up on
the couch and in her new reality. She is fearful that the group has discovered the other Emily
but after seeing a chirpy Lee in the kitchen and bumping into Beth emerging from the bathroom
after a shower, original Emily realises that they haven’t discovered the other Emily. Original Emily then goes outside
and sees the car window she smashed the night before. She meets Kevin who happily greets her and gives her the ring
that she lost in the bathroom the night before when she was attacking the other Emily. Then Kevin receives a call, from other Emily’s
number; in this reality other Emily’s phone isn’t broken and upon listening to what
the person on the other end of the line has to say, Kevin looks at our original Emily
suspiciously. And that is when the film concludes and we
are left to guess what original Emily’s fate in this reality. So a story full of twists and turns I’m
sure you will agree and I hope you enjoyed going down this rabbit hole with me. As always I hope you enjoyed this video and
remember to subscribe to LondonCityGirl for more film analysis videos from me in the future.

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