Movie Coherence Explained and Interview With Director James Ward Byrkit
Coherence is one of my favorite mindjobs ever. Ever. There is so much going on here. Such brilliance. IMDB
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Sometimes, when I first watch a movie, I’m so blown away by what I’m seeing that I know that I’m going to have to stop, reflect, rewatch it, reflect some more, and then talk about it. James Byrkit’s movie Coherence is definitely one of those movies. If you are new here, complex movies is our bread and butter… so Coherence should have been a boondoggle. And yet, here we are a year or two later and still no massive walk through like I have done for similar movies like Primer, Timelapse, Timecrimes, Memento, Upstream Colour, The One I Love, etc. etc. etc. But the thing that pushed me over the edge was when Director James Ward Byrkit responded to me out of the blue and offered to lend a hand. I will also be doing a longer interview with him about the creation of the movie and his future movie aspirations.

Regardless, Coherence is a wonderful mind-warping movie worthy of being added to my 5 Best Mind Bending Movies list… which, while I’m thinking about it, I should probably update it now! There have been so many great movies that qualify for that list over the past year or two. But I digress. Coherence is an amazingly brilliant movie that will completely rattle your cage if you haven’t been rattled already. If you have not watched the movie already, please read my review of the movie – watch it – and then come back.

coherence2

COHERENCE DECONSTRUCTION PROBLEMS

Here’s the problem. Coherence is an unassuming movie… at first. And then you begin to realize something’s rotten in Denmark. But its the unassumingness that throws you off kilter, hits you with a surprise right hook. I would go so far as to say that this is the second most complex movie ever constructed. The only movie more complicated would be Primer… and nothing will ever become more complicated than that particular head-job.

The reason the movie is complex is because as the movie progresses, it exponentially ramps up the variables going on underneath the covers of this movie. When Amir and Hugh walk out the door and then walk back in something just happened, but it isn’t even called out. It’s only later on that you realize just how far down the path you have already gone.  And by then, you are too far down the rabbit hole to really make sense of everything (and by everything, I mean EVERYTHING) happening around you.

So how does one go about tracking all of these threads swirling around in circles within this movie? I was so concerned about how to make sense of this movie and so perplexed how to understand what was going on here that I asked the writer and director of this movie James Ward Byrkit (who I’ve taken to calling Jimmy in my head, just because we are tight like that… in my head anyway.) My actual question was posed more specifically as such:

“I’m currently doing the work of watching and rewatching your film with the goal of trying to timeline and locate the various copies and where they went/were going… (as much as is physically possible) do you have any hints? Or maybe a master mind map you’d like to share?!  hahaha.”
His response helped in that it gave me options, whether or not it will help by the end I’ll leave to your discretion. He gave a ton more details that I’ve pulled out of this response, and will share when I post my interview with my new best friend Jimmy, I mean James Ward Byrkit, in full.

“We’ve learned to try to not spoil an audience member’s personal interpretation of what’s happening. That said, there are two ways to watch the film. Two ways we intended, anyway. And debated and planned for a year. One way is to simply follow Em from the first shot to the last shot… The other way to watch it is to use the cuts to black as a signal of something much more complicated unfolding. You wouldn’t believe the amount of debate going into those cuts to black, by the way. How many frames, how the rules work, how the audio should ring out. Amazing.”

So, at a hight level Byrkit is saying watch Em closely. It’s like he’s telling us, watch the magician’s left hand… constantly. Don’t take your eyes of that hand. That is where the trick happens. Which makes sense. It’s a fairly obvious hint, and yet not. And the second thing, which isn’t even nearly as obvious, is to watch the fade to blacks.

To that end, I’ve done both for you, I don’t know how much sense I’ve made out of both approaches. But I’ve mapped this movie both ways in hopes of gleaning a deeper understanding of the movie Coherence and all its moving pieces. So this first map is the individuals that come and go, and who we are looking at, at any given moment. Note, I have bolded and *red asterisked the moments when someone leaves the house.


coherence-totems

Coherence Timeline Walkthrough 

HOUSE1

16th minute – power goes out, someone says, are you going outside? Yeah, I’m going to check on the power and the generator.

But it isn’t the first exit because they all go out and come back after seeing the house 2 blocks over has power.

*19th minute – Hugh1 and Amir1 leave

Tunguska event explained –

21st minute – Loud Door Knocking assumably by another set of Amir and Hughs

22nd minute – generator working – House1 becomes house on hill for another House?

Hugh2 and Amir2 “come back” with a box – Hugh cut on head
First house visited (house2) is ping pong paddle

*32nd Minute – Em, Kevin, Laurie and Mike all go together – Hugh2 and amir2, Lee and Beth stay at house1

Em leaves main house1 first time POV leaves H1 –

HOUSE2

Mike says, I see Lee in the dining room. Turn and leave only to encounter red selves.

Once the four arrive at House2 we see that the blue glow stick box is also open here. Has to be random chance that the same box is opened – even with the blue glow sticks we are at House2.

Em1, Kevin1, Laurie1 and Mike1 meet hugh3 and amir3 – Lee2 and Beth2

*Hugh2 and Kevin1 go to car to get book… 

In this house Lee is asleep, “Should we wake Lee? How could she sleep through the middle of all this?”

When Kevin2 and Hugh2 come back Kevin2 is still blue glow sticked even though they’ve just swapped

Mike1 mentions that while he was out he saw Amir, Hugh and Lee

They realize that Beth1 was napping in the other House so in their house they don’t have the book.

Mike1 goes and wakes Lee2

*Mike1 leaves to blackmail himself with info only he has about Beth

Em1 watches Lee2 and Beth2 re-discuss the vase and the flowers
Hugh3 and Amir3 are holding red glow sticks
*Hugh4 and Amir3 steal the book and the photos and leave

Mike2 comes back saying he didn’t steal the book, but he did drop off the blackmail letter for himself.

Right now, the only characters that have remained since the beginning are Em1, and Laurie1

We see that the wine glass is not broken.

Laurie flirts with Kevin while Em is remaking (or first time) the photos. Em asks about it, he denies it.

All? (minus Amir and Hugh) Go out after car is broken into – Em gets ring from glove of her car.

*Kevin2 and Em talk about the day he gave her the ring at the fair,  

“that was a good day, yeah we’re good. Is everything ok with the broken into car?” And then Kevin2 leaves.

When Em goes into the house it should be:
Em1, Kevin3, Laurie2, lee3, Beth3, mike3

Then, a bit later when Em realizes she’s not in Kansas any longer when she sees Hugh5 and Amir4 arrive back at the house with the book. “Wait, there was a Hugh and Amir here already?”
“Yes, you hit your head and I gave you a bandaid, but not THAT bandaid.”

—–

Laurie reading the book – “Quantum decoherence assures that the different outcomes have no interactions with one another.”

That one note has at least been written 4 times, how many Hugh and Amirs are running around out there?!

They create the key box with a unique item, photos with unique numbers

34th Minute – Em checks the numbers against the previous recorded numbers… They are green.

Em says, “Hey Kevin, do you remember what number was on the back of your card?”
Kevin3 says, “6”
Looking at the papers, Kevin3’s number stolen at House1 was a six – so she is probably talking to ping pong paddle Kevin.

Em talking to mike, “Beth and Lee are from this house originally because they have never left. Mike, you and I are visiting here, this isn’t our house. Which means Mike3 has to have been Mike1 and randomly arrived back with Em1.

She continues talking as she says, “There’s more, Hugh and Amir? Their numbers are from a third house. Neither this house or the other house.” Which understates it, they have actually seen 5 Amirs and 4 Hughs so far.

Hugh4 is stapler
Lee3 is oven mitt
Beth3 ping pong paddle (red house)
Mike3 is napkin – which means that house1 chose a napkin as their item.

Green mike4 breaks in and attacks mike3

Kevin3 goes to protect Laurie2, and so Em1 leaves
She comes to House3 – it’s item is a Monkey, and keeps going

When she arrives at House4, someone smashes the window of the car outside and then someone says, “Why would they break the window if there was no book in the car?” because they are aware that in some timelines the book stayed in the car, but not in this one. (Well we know why, Em later breaks the window in order to get the happy Em out of the house.)

Em continues looking for the “Happy Em” or Em-prime. I will talk about this Em later on in my walk through as she is the single most important duplicate in the movie.

Em gets Em-prime to come out and drugs her in the car.
While Em1 is in the house Em-prime comes back in the house – she hammers her with toilet lid, shoves her in tub.
Em’s ring falls on the floor. She couldn’t find it at first, so she takes Em-Prime’s ring

coherence-red-glowsticks

END OF MOVIE Details – 

Now that the morning has come – Em1 has no idea where she stands. Has the singularity closed? Is she the only Em in this reality? What happened to the dead Em (Em-Prime) in the tub. She walks out to Kevin in the street. He is curious if she’s ok, but then is interrupted by a voicemail. Who is that vm from? Great question. Its from Em-Prime telling him what happened last night with Em1 standing in front of him.

movie ends

————-

So I know my notes while watching the movie are hit or miss here and there – but I did do a pretty good job of concentrating on keeping the number of the characters straight as the movie progresses. Following the characters definitely shows how Em is the center of the story. The movie sort of revolves around her. Which makes the ending all the more surprising. But just wait, we’ll get to a detailed walk through of that in a bit. But before we do that, I promised you a quick log of the fade to blacks that Byrkit told us to watch for. Here they all are – and a quick list of context.

Coherence Movie Fade to black index –
3:25 – Party intro
5:05 – Anyone want wine, cheese, ketamine?
5:48 – He was like plus one, and we were all plus wahh?!
7:19 – if you dont say yes it eventually becomes a no
9:41 – I’m an empath and this door is a vortex
19:21 – Hugh and Amir just left
32:46 – Em and 3 leave house1
1:06:32 – Em realizes there are millions of variants probably

I started thinking about these fades and I wondered if maybe a search for prime numbers and other mathematical equivalents. But I realized that my copy of the movie may not be exactly the same as the one Byrkit originally created. I also realized that I didn’t know whether to pull the number from the beginning of the fade or the end.

And then, as the movie progressed I started realizing that they got shorter and shorter. In the beginning the fades were very long. But the deeper down the rabbit hole Em went the shorter they became. Until we arrive at the end and the 1:06:32 fade and it becomes long again. I don’t really have a coherent (see what I did there) theory about the fade to blacks and would love your theories on how they might work. I personally think that it corresponds with someone coming and going elsewhere across continuums. Which brings me to the comings and goings… maybe we should talk about that a bit.

Coherence-movie-trailer

COHERENCE Movie Transference Rules

Obviously as the movie opens we have no idea that something crazy is happening deeper than the surface. We have twins and triplets, quintuplets and septuplets running around in this movie without any sort of a clue that its going on. But there is something deeper going on here, and that is what I want to wrap my arms around here. For example, how does someone leave the house? When they leave the house, where do they go if they don’t come back? How is it determined where they go when they leave?

To investigate how this works I’ve sketched a diagram of the flow as I see it. This diagram shows one person leaving House 1 and simultaneously leaving House 2:

coherence-diagram-1

House 1 on the left… we see the red person leaving the house while simultaneously over at House 2 we see a blue person leaving as well. As they head towards the street they hit a dark vortex that spins them around in a roulette wheel of chaos theory that selects for them what their destination will be. I tried to keep the diagram simple the first time round, but it’s actually a lot more like this:

Coherence-diagram-2

This flow follows someone as the move from House1 to House2, House3, etc. The russian roulette is a larger field than just two houses, its actually probably an infinite continuum of houses that the individuals can encounter. Ping Pong Paddle, Napkin, Oven Mitt, Monkey… these are just the beginnings of the options available to the each of these individuals.

But what complicates this diagram even more, is that while watching this individual move from House1 to House2 you have to also envision an opposite move for each of these because you always have a doppleganger flipping into the house that an individual just left. House2 to House1. House3 to House2…. etc. Right? And to complicate matters a bit more… you also have multiple people moving at once – and oh by the way, you could also accidentally get back to a house you’ve already visited. Which we have proof happens at least once in the movie. The best quote from the movie that explains how the house movements work is from Hugh, quoting from the book:

“So, listen to this. This is what he’s written. ‘There is another theory: that two states continue to exist… separate and decoherent from each other, each creating a new branch of reality… based on the two outcomes. Quantum decoherence ensures that the different outcomes… have no interaction with each other.'”

coherence-ending-explained

Coherence Movie Ending Explained

I originally assumed that the ending was simple… and I got it. But I was wrong. It was only after I chatted with Byrkit, the writer and director of Coherence, that I got a clue. I mean, I was dead wrong about how the ending worked. Like, not even close.

Coherence Incorrect Ending – So what I originally thought happened was that Em1 and Kevin1 were separated… and this was bad. Em1 needed a chance to find Kevin1 and make amends. Sort things out. Em1 needed to apologize for not agreeing to go on the trip with him, and she needed to sort it all out by getting back to him. So as she wandered from house to house she was looking for Kevin1. NOPE. That isn’t what happened. And when Byrkit walked me through it I was so lost at first I thought maybe I had missed something enormous, so I’ll say it slowly, so you can track with me.

Go back to the beginning of the movie. Em1 and Kevin1 are on the phone and Em1 is cut off. He had mentioned that they needed to talk and they needed to make a decision. But the comet passes overhead and cuts them off, shattering Em1’s phone. Then, about twenty minutes into the movie I think? Em1 & Kevin1 have a conversation wherein Kevin attempts to convince Em to make a decision to go with him. He then says the unforgettable line, “Eventually Em, indecision becomes a no…” or something like that. And Em holds her ground and says that she just needs more time, but Kevin moves on. Right?

This is the seminal moment of the movie per Byrkit. It is this moment the determines the ending of the movie. So here is the trick to the ending of the movie… When Em1 is running around from house to house to house looking for a Kevin… it isn’t Kevin1 that she is looking for. If it isn’t Kevin1 then who is it?!?! Em1 is looking for KevinX – and KevinX is the Kevin that she said yes to. Happy Kevin. She utilizes the decoherence brought to them by the comet to change time, and find the one copy of Kevin she made the right move with. She wants to find the Kevin that she decided to go on the trip with.

When she finds the KevinX and EmX that are giggling happily on the couch together she knows she’s found the one that said yes. She found the Em who said yes and who is at peace committing to Kevin and going to Paris together. When she finds the final couple she knows she has to swap places with her, and take over on that tangent of possibility. Yes?

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Coherence Movie Final Phone Call

So if it is Em1 attempting to take over the life of EmX’s life (happy Em) then how did the final chat with KevinX break down? Well, we see that EmX isn’t going without a fight. Em1 knocks her out several times and has to work exceedingly hard to dump her in the tub. Then when Em1 wakes up on the couch and the decoherence has passed Em1 is trying to figure out where she’s landed – and where KevX was. Eventually she sees that EmX is gone (carried off by the comet and the decoherence?) and so she goes looking for KevX and finds him outside. KevX asks if Em1 is alright, and she’s like… Uhhh, I don’t know… am I alright?! heheh. I guess? Maybe? And at that moment KevX sees that he got a voicemail from EmX. And EmX throws Em1 completely under the bus. Em1 is outted as an imposter in the final moments of the movie. Does that make sense?

Here’s the most interesting part though. When you stop and think about it a second it isn’t clear whether EmX has been carried away by the decoherence and we are left at the end with a dead cat or not. I originally assumed that EmX and Em1 were locked together in the same reality and that it was only a matter of time for EmX to appear and kick Em1’s butt. But the more I think about the Schroedinger’s Cat experiment, and the way the system works, I’m guessing that EmX made the phone call to KevinX before everything sorted itself out again… while EmX and Em1 still could reside in the same reality together. And KevinX was only able to get the call AFTER the decoherence disappeared, and we were able to snap back to reality again.EmX has ceased to exist in this reality. Which, if true, would mean that KevinX is left with Em1 and he knows that Em1 tried to kill EmX and take her place.

Does that even make sense? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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148 Responses

  1. Gromm

    I believe the film stops at the exact right moment, because in terms of the doppelganger metaphor it doesn’t matter whether EmX is still in that same reality or whether she’s elsewhere. Carrying on the plot would cease to create narrative meaning beyond that point when she realizes her plan didn’t work, and it would actually begin to reduce the rich metaphor to something less than it is.

    The only way to continue the plot would have been to have Em1 be *technically* successful in pushing out EmX and taking her place, and then to problematize her mind’s peculiar position in that wishful-thinking perfect reality.

    The denouement of psychoanalyis and of any story that examines wish-fulfillment fantasies (specifically its sci-fi correlate, the id-machine (of which the multiverse roulette in this film is possibly the best conception ever devised) is that we humans actually refuse a too flawless world.

    We intuitively measure reality by our lack, by being unhappy. We can’t actually feel happiness other than as temporary absence of unhappiness. This is not a bad thing I’d argue, it’s just how it is. The bad thing comes with the notion of “perhaps I can actually manage to get to that perfect fantasy place” (=align my real life with the Facebook fantasy I’ve created of it).

    So, even if she hadn’t been caught at the end, could Em1 carry on as though nothing had happened or would her mind refuse to be integrated into a reality that is too much like her own fantasy of her life as perfect, as if an organ refusing to be transplanted into a new body?

    The denouement of this story, much like several masterpieces of world cinema that come to mind (e.g. Tarkovsky’s Stalker, or Haneke’s The Piano Teacher), is that we shouldn’t do as the world around tells us: we shouldn’t “live our dream”, we shouldn’t try to get rid of that fantasy of perfection that haunts us by trying to bring our life as perfectly in alignment with that fantasy as we can manage. We should live our flawed lives, and dream our dreams of perfection, and leave well enough alone.

    You’re right imho that Em1’s cardinal sin is to think she could bruteforce and shortcut her way toward what she wants (or at least what she thinks she wants) rather than taking the difficult road and changing herself, her own mind, by apologizing and dealing with imperfection inside of herself and in her life around her (e.g. not having that starring dance role etc).

    Reply
  2. Taylor Holmes

    Gromm,
    I think we were separated at birth – totally digging on this paragraph of yours…

    The denouement of psychoanalyis and of any story that examines wish-fulfillment fantasies (specifically its sci-fi correlate, the id-machine (of which the multiverse roulette in this film is possibly the best conception ever devised) is that we humans actually refuse a too flawless world.

    That sentiment of the human mind resisting the perfect is straight out of the Matrix. “No one would accept the program. Entire crops were lost. Some believed we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world. But I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through suffering and misery.” But it is this paragraph that I find the true insight.

    “The denouement of this story, much like several masterpieces of world cinema that come to mind (e.g. Tarkovsky’s Stalker, or Haneke’s The Piano Teacher), is that we shouldn’t do as the world around tells us: we shouldn’t “live our dream”, we shouldn’t try to get rid of that fantasy of perfection that haunts us by trying to bring our life as perfectly in alignment with that fantasy as we can manage. We should live our flawed lives, and dream our dreams of perfection, and leave well enough alone.”

    That’s the knife’s edge of this movie. Should we short circuit life to jump to that perfect experience, that perfect life? Or should we learn and grow from the mistakes that we make? Juxtapose that with the life and paatterns of southern California (which I lived in during my more formative years) living which is notoriously false. As you pointed out.

    Em1 realizes she screwed up. She finally gets that she should have agreed to go with Kevin. And so when she finds herself wandering in and out of the decoherence-void, what is she looking for? She’s wanting that perfect life. She’s not yenning for the good or the lesson to be learned, she’s yenning for the perfect like you say. Which is a complete editorial on the American Dream… or maybe the myopicness of believing that perfection is our standard of measure.

    I agree with you very much that Coherence ended at the most brilliant point possible. It ended with an indictment of Em… which was a right hook. Wait what? She’s our center focus. Definitely our anchor point for the whole movie… and yet, she completely wipes out at the very end. Totally muffs it completely. Which makes the dialogue about the entire movie very interesting. Wait, what? She did what? How? Why?

    I am finishing up season one of 12 Monkeys, which I absolutely adore, and there was a comment in there that really caught my attention. Dr. Jones commented that “God’s wrath doesn’t require her belief…” which was in reference to God still seeing things that occurred in other timelines that get overwritten. Which is a similar topic to here – just because EmX disappears for ever (if in fact she did) does not mean that she didn’t operate immorally. If that makes sense.

    (Sorry for the delay on this response, I kept coming back to it over a couple days, and continued writing and deleting… and rewriting. So I’m sure its a hodge-podge of chaos and unclear logic!)

    We intuitively measure reality by our lack, by being unhappy. We can’t actually feel happiness other than as temporary absence of unhappiness.

    Reply
    • Gromm

      “God’s wrath doesn’t require her belief…”

      I haven’t gotten around to the 12 Monkeys series yet, but that quote reminds me of that anecdote about Physicist Niels Bohr. Allegedly, Bohr once invited a friend over to his country house. The friend noticed a horseshoe above the front door (in parts of Europe it’s a superstitious symbol keeping away evil spirits), so the friend asked Bohr whether he believed in such things. According to the anecdote, Bohr replied: “No, of course I don’t believe in it, I’m a scientist. But I’ve been told it works even if you don’t believe in it.”

      (In a strange little twist in the context of Coherence, Niels Bohr is the one who (as godfather of international physics) rejected Hugh Everett’s many-world interpretation, condemning the latter to a life in scientific obscurity and recognition only late in his life.)

      (In an even stranger little twist in the context of my personal life, I once fell in love with a girl, and on our second date it turned out that each of us had brought the other a CD as a surprise gift. We had brought each other the same CD: Beautiful Freak by Eels. Later that night, I seduced her by talking about my favorite new subject at the time, which was the many-worlds interpretation (I think I almost overused the words “Just imagine…”). Only years later would I learn that Hugh Everett is the father of Mark Oliver Everett, the man behind the Eels.)

      Which is a similar topic to here – just because EmX disappears for ever (if in fact she did) does not mean that she didn’t operate immorally. If that makes sense.

      Yes, it absolutely makes sense. But better don’t trust my word on that, we evidently think too much alike 😀

      Reply
  3. jason

    Ok I’m way late to this conversation but stumbled across this movie today and after being intrigued by the ending I read that this whole movie was basically improv and that blew my mind more than the movie.

    Came across your analysis here and here’s my opinion.
    Absolutely nothing in this movie matters except for the last minute. The one clue we get before the obvious tell tale is KevinX gives Em1 a 2nd ring, yes technically it’s her original ring but we see her holding her original and still wearing the RingX, which means it didn’t just vanish from the continuum, which by extension means neither did EmX. Now here’s the obvious part, in your analysis you keep mentioning the final scene as KevinX finds that he’s received a voice mail from EmX but it isn’t a voice mail, it’s a live call from EmX. KevinX actually says to Em1 “that’s weird… it’s you calling me” He picks up, presumably hears EmX say something and realizes he’s both talking to Em on the phone and looking at a copy of her. (and remember at houseX no one ever left so no one other than Em1 is even aware there was a coherence/decoherence going on) so KevinX’s reaction is obviously going to be a “wtf” moment. So he looks at Em1 and we see a look on her face that says she knows she’s screwed.

    The end means that her plan to find the “perfect” reality didn’t just fail, but put her in the worst possible outcome, and now is trapped in a reality where SHE (for the first time in the movie) is out of place, she has no friends, no life and NO KEVIN because they all belong to EmX. And technically she can’t even explain what happened without sounding insane because HouseX was never aware of the place swapping effects going on in the first place. And in theory – if Em1 still has her phone it’s broken, which no one from HouseX experienced in their reality, giving Em1 away as the impostor. (which would also tie the end back to the very first event we see at the start, but the we don’t see that happen so it’s just speculation I guess)

    So to me the end was actually really sad. Poor Em1 realized she made a mistake, got greedy, went Kevin gambling and lost, badly. She has no place in the universe 🙁

    Reply
    • jason

      Edit: And I forgot, there’s one line said in the movie that foreshadows it all like a slap in the face when I realized it. Em1 tells Kevin1 that “she just needs more time” to think about the trip and are you ready for this? Kevin1 tells her that “if it’s not a yes, it will eventually become a no” and that’s exactly what happened.

      Reply
    • AKK

      Nice one…!!

      But if EmX were to indeed exist (somewhere…) why would she just NOT ‘show-herself’ when Em1 passed out…. ???

      Did she happen to simply sneak out of the bath tub without being seen and call KevinX next morning ??….. doesn’t fit…

      Reply
      • P

        I only just saw this movie tonight for the first time so I obviously have to go back and watch a second time, but didn’t Em1 put EmX into the trunk of her car? I assumed the entire time that the Em in the bathtub was a different Em who also left the house looking for her perfect reality and that EmX was calling from the car. While trapped in the car she was unable to leave and get placed into a different reality.

    • KeeCeez

      Jason – that’s what I gathered as well. It was a live call and she was “outed” and that there are two Ems in the ending timeline. I also think that Em1’s phone breaking in the beginning was the beginning of the coherence event.

      One thing I’m curious about is when the lights first go out, they all leave the house but when they go back into the house, a glass on the table is found broken and it’s briefly discussed as a curiosity but that did not happen before they all left. I don’t think they all went back into the original house. Granted they didn’t go through the vortex but conditions in the house had changed when they left.

      I totally didn’t pick up on the length of the fades, great catch! Going to watch for a 5th time lol

      Reply
    • Smerry

      There’s also a line in the movie before things start going all wonky when Lorrie says “So she basically stole your whole thing…Katherine Merris has your life, basically” after she was talking about how her dance production was hijacked and she couldn’t make a decision about being the understudy.

      Reply
  4. Ben

    Loved and agreed with your theory 100% … until I read “voicemail.” Went back to the film. It isn’t a voicemail at all. It’s a call… dun dun dahhhhh

    Reply
  5. Kenny

    I don’t have a lot of coherent thoughts right now, but here’s what’s floating around in my head right now. I like how you can never know for sure what house you’re witnessing, as the camera could be in any given house. It’s tempting to always assume the camera is in the “original house,” until the moment it follows Em at the end and she attacks her happier self, but it could be a false assumption. This movie is brilliant, thanks for the recommendation!

    Reply
  6. Maria Luisa

    So, here is something I was wondering… Based on the diagram and that the coherence “ensure that the differents outcomes dont interact with each other” when Em1 lives house1 and goes to houseX, emX supposed to have left simultaneously going to house1, therefore they wouldnt interact with each other, so because emX never had left her house, em1 never should gone to this particularly house, only houses Ems Left, changing places with her.
    Can anyone explain this?
    Sorry about my english if something is wrong, is not my native language

    Reply
    • Taylor

      Maria – your English is wonderful. I wish I could speak another language HALF as well. So my diagram showing how the decoherence works is good, but not perfect. We did see several times when people left early or late from their parallel universe. It wasn’t always perfectly timed. Which explains the two Emilys in the same coherence. Right? So yeah, you are correct. It would keep collisions like that happening if it was perfectly time… but it isn’t as clean as that. It generally balances out. But not at the same time.

      Make sense?
      taylor

      Reply
      • squirreltape

        I think it’s deliberate to see parallel events occurring at different times, eg the note, vase and flowers discussion, broken car windows, arrival of Hugh-x and Amir-x etc. The coherence-period is extended, say 12 hours(?). Countless parallel versions of a particular guest explore the permutations arising from the events in their coherent overlapping universes… these events are smeared out across the 12 hour duration. For the movie, it clearly works when a ‘common event’ happens at two slightly different times… we either see a common event happen twice (vase), or we witness the ‘second’ time first and get shown this quickly (note on door). Genius details.

      • salha

        hi….is it like this??? wen u encounter yo own self, x/y/z and hv a mutual face to face meet, that is d moment wen the power unusually flickers and shuts down, i guess. throughout the movie there wer black outs and also sudden power shut downs. and wen em1 hit emx at the end in the bath tub, there was a power flicker , tat was d moment the other people outside ensured if Em was fine. so it implies if d quantum decoherence goes wrong there,s an unusual power shut down!

  7. Jesús O.C

    First. Love the post and definetely I will check more and more on this website. Nicely done!

    I watched the movie again today and I came up with a new thought… maybe it’s just silly. We have settled that there could be infinite numbers of possibilities right? If can happen it will. So now I wonder, who or how got Hugh hurt? First time I saw the movie I thought somebody from the house hit him, but I don’t think so… that could open a door… I don’t want to explain any further because it will look just crazy. I thought maybe EmX got and scar on the forehead and she got back to another houseX, then Em1 stays not leaving the houseX because there is always somebody that doesn’t leave… as I said I know is crazy and complicated.

    I really think it is a great movie, I watched it with some friends and we end up thinking that we must kill the other I (us).

    Reply
  8. squirreltape

    Fantastic walkthrough, Taylor. I’d like to add a little pet theory about ‘Mike’ (Nicholas Brendon). We know Nicholas Brendon was a regular character on ‘Buffy’ and not ‘Roswell’ as stated by Mike during the first dinner table conversation where he showed incredulity that no other guest knew this. Could this imply that the coherence-period started prior with Em’s phone cracking at the beginning of the film, before Em even got to the house. She had to park aways down the road and probably walked through the ‘vortex’ and unkowingly had already crossed to a nearer parallel universe… we meet the friends-v1 after following Em-v0 into house-v1. In fact, some or all of the friends may have crossed through before even entering the house themselves so we could be watching any number of combinations and they themselves all assume nothing’s happened yet.

    Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      Squirrel,
      I was here to read the latest and greatest comments, and oh my @#$#@$! That was awesome. So, kinda like my theory on Inception (wherein I posit that there were 7 layers of dreams in that movie, not three) we were inceived before the movie even started. Which, I might add, takes a play straight out of the Shane Carruth Primer playbook. Why start the chaos while in plane view, when you could have started it before the theater goers even take their seats?

      Brilliant Squirrel.
      taylor

      Reply
      • Sophie

        Yes! I thought this two, as soon as we realise that the guests have swapped houses without realising I thought that maybe Laurie and Amir switched over from a different reality to the others before they arrived at the house. In the original dinner party conversation Laurie did not recognise Mike from Roswell and Mike was convinced that Laurie was a yoga teacher – perhaps the yoga Laurie who would have recognised Mike switched with one who didn’t teach yoga and in whose reality Mike was not in Roswell!

      • Russ

        Taylor! i have another point no one seemed to mention and its got me freaking out! Em mentions a story of a woman in finland that killed her husband, could she not have been hinting at later things to come…. as if she know something more than the obvious story.

        it seems simple but something about the way its in there seems like a bigger deal.

  9. Zeeshan Nawaz

    Hey there, i have question, please answer…
    If no one was coming back to the house from where he/she left, then how EmX was able to go back to the same house from where Em1 called her outside by hitting the car?

    Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      Hey there Zeeshan,
      Who’s to say Em actually did get back to the same house? I’d be more inclined she got to A house that had also been summoned by hitting the car. No? Anyone correct me?

      Tay

      Reply
      • david

        Who’s to say that Em1 actually ended up in the happy universe? All the happy people went out to check on the windshield, but then they scattered to check on their individual cars. Em1 at this point attacks happy Em at her car, but when she returns to the house, can we be sure it’s the same house, full of the same happy people? The only thing that makes me think that I’m wrong here, and that the happy house/people remained the same, is the Em who returns is clearly tripping balls and there’s no indication that anyone else is in the final house is confused or out of place.

        What I don’t understand though is how people sort of serendipitously enter houses that are lacking the precise people in that entering group. When the gang of four flip out at the sight of their dopplegangers, how is it that house2 just happens to be missing the exact same people? Later these sort of problems develop… but it seems highly improbable that they ended up back at a house in remarkably similar circumstances.

        I also don’t get how lee and her husband seem to have no thoughts of neighbors.

        Also, at some point while running around outside there’s the sound of dogs barking. Unless the comet has passed at this point I don’t understand how that can be.

      • Nichol

        Hello everyone,

        The ending of this movie really had me frozen. What I assumed while watching the ending is there were three: Em1 who drugged Emx ( She put Emx in the trunk) Emx (happy Em she was placed in the trunk) but then there was another EM, Em3 she emerged from the basement. Em3 is the Emily that ended up in the bath tub. So what if Happy EM was an impostor all along and Em3 was the original (the Emily that was in the basement.) What do you guys think?

  10. ALIZ

    Ok so here’s what i think after reading the comments:
    The EmX is actually not EmX. EmX was somehow replaced( either killed or went through portal)by EmY, who has either forgotten past memories because of the drug she somehow took in houseY or was looking for a perfect combination as well(which makes more sense according to my ending because she obviously steals EmX’s phone as well). Anyway Em1 gets her in the trunk and goes into houseX. The other Em that enters after, druged, is EmZ from some other world. She was probebly from some other world where some other Em drugged her in the trunk, not fully closing the door and causing her to get up drugged and go through the portal to houseX and in the bathroom. Em1 sees her thinking she is EmX and hits her thinking she is dead. EmZ i think probebly did disappear or she could have gone to the portal again. Anyway doesn’t matter because in my opinion EmZ couldn’t have stayed in that world(because her staying would mean 3 Em’s!!?!? And thats just TMTH). When Em1 wakes up and KevinX gets the phone call it’s actually EmY from the trunk because EmZ was not ” Perfect ” and had her phone probably broken. EmX probebly sais she is stuck somewhere dark and needs help. THE END . This makes sense to me.

    Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      If it makes sense to you I’m game. Hahaha.
      But I’ll be honest, I didn’t track. I mean, I got everything but the third Em that was drugged. Can anyone else jump in and help me mentally grapple with this? Or maybe you could give it another go Aliz?

      Reply
      • Fujiz

        Hey Taylor, awesome review. I just watched the film twice and read your interesting theories. I share the same thought with Aliz about EmY or EmZ – who actually crawled to HouseX, not EmX. Probably there was a similar event that happened before the event in HouseX (EmY or Z was actually dosed in different timeline, made an escape from the car, and crawled to any house she could find). So maybe the one Em1 dosed and the one Em1 beat in the bathroom were not the same person. Since Em is an interesting character, if Em1 decided to make a replacement with other Em(s) in different reality, then all Em(s) probably would try to do the same. But I can’t find an explanation for what happened before Em1 woke up, where did the body go (with 2 hits in the head probably the Em in the bathtub is dead) , why a phone call but not talking in person (i mean why is there an Em that is far away from Kevin? and nobody seemed to acknowledge that? and in that reality, Em’s phone isn’t broken or got replaced with a new one?)

      • KJS

        Yeah – I’m not convinced that the Em that crawled into the bathroom was the Em-X that was dosed and put into the trunk by Em-1. The Emily that crawled into the bathroom (and was subsequently hit with the toilet tank lid) might have been another Em (an Em-Y?) that was also dosed in another reality then escaped and crawled into the first house she came to. I think that Em-Y was killed in the bathroom by the blow to the head and her body vanished from the bathtub when the “coherence” ended after the passing/disintegration of the comet and the “box” (like the box in the Schrodinger’s Cat thought experiment) was opened. When that “box” “opened” after the passing/disintegration of the comet, the different possible outcomes in that particular reality – between “dead Em” and “alive Em” collapsed into that one reality (like dead Schrodinger’s cat and alive Schrodinger’s cat, both of which exist on a quantum level until the box is opened so that what’s inside the box can be observed and the possibilities must “collapse” into one) . In the reality this movie ends with (the House-X reality), though, while one Emily (Em-Y?) was killed in the bathroom and vanished when the possibilities between dead and alive Emily collapsed in favor of “alive”, Em-X (the happy Emily from that reality) WAS STILL ALIVE in the trunk of the car. Em-X had been dosed, rendered unconscious and put in the trunk, but she was NOT killed, so when the possibilities between dead and alive Em (like dead and alive Schrodinger’s Cat) collapsed into one reality as the box was opened with the passing of the comet, Em-X in the trunk was ALSO an alive Emily and she continued to exist in her “home” reality. I think it was that Em-X calling Kevin-X from the trunk of the car at the end of the movie. That would all explain the absence of a body from the bathtub that Beth was showering in during the closing minutes of the movie. Having a wounded Em crawl out of that bathtub, then for some inexplicable reason flee the house sometime overnight in a way that no one else could see her and then wait to the next morning to call Kevin-X makes no sense. If she survived that blow to the head and got out of that bathroom, why wouldn’t she say anything to any of the other people? Why flee? Especially when she would have doubtlessly been in need of urgent medical attention and especially because the Emily that assaulted her was passed out on a couch and posed no threat. In other words, I think that there were at least 3 Emily’s present in House-X at one time or another in the closing minutes of the movie. Em-1 that we had been following all along; Em-X who was originally from House-X; and at least one other Emily . . . at least.

    • KJS

      Further, I’m not really sure that it’s 100% clear that Em-1 is the Emily who passed out and woke up on the couch the next morning, or the Emily who was standing with Kevin-X when he got the phone call at the end.

      I say this because the Emily who dosed Em-X and put Em-X in the trunk of the car, took Em-X’s sweater off of her before shutting her in the trunk AND put that sweater on. Then, she is conspicuously shown to be adjusting that sweater on as she enters into House-X through “the door to nowhere”.

      Then, after the rest of the group goes out of the “door to nowhere” to watch the comet from the patio, the Emily who dosed Em-X and now has the sweater on does NOT go out onto the patio with them – she is sill standing inside.

      The group outside on the patio watches the comet, sees it start to disintegrate, and the lights suddenly go out and everything goes black. Then the lights come back on and after a moment we see a close up of Emily’s face inside the house (near the door to the patio) – and that Emily does NOT have the sweater on. The sweater is suddenly gone with no explanation and it’s not seen again.

      That now sweaterless Emily then sees another Emily crawling into the bathroom and the sweaterless Emily follows her into the bathroom and assaults her with the toilet tank lid and hides her in the bathtub as the lights continually flicker on and off.

      I’m not sure if the absence of a sweater on the Emily who assaults the other Emily in the bathroom was intentional or not, though – it obviously MIGHT have been an oversight. In an interview (here: https://www.yahoo.com/movies/a-super-spoilery-interview-with-the-director-of-94160809847.html ), James Ward Byrkit said “At one point, we were joking that the tagline for Coherence would be ‘Four hundred and fifty continuity errors, four hundred and forty-nine of them intentional.’” Was the lack of a sweater here one of the intentional continuity errors, or was it an unintentional one? I’m not sure.

      It might be worth noting, though, that after Em-1 approaches House-X and is casing it, there are a number of cuts to black as she walks around House-X. What we assume to be Em-1 is initially shown looking through a window into the living room of House-X where she sees the seemingly happy group and watches as Em-X come into the living room and sits happily with Kevin-X. Em-1 is then shown to turn and walk toward the brightly lit front door with the group’s shoes on the landing in front of the door. There is then a cut, and an Emily is shown walking along what looks to be a side of the house. There is then another cut and in a brief shot, an Emily is shown looking down to her right (our left) at the baseball bat leaning against a wall – and that is not at the brightly lit front door and actually looks like it MIGHT be inside the house. Indeed, why would the group in House-X have the baseball bat propped up outside the house? They never even left the house, and earlier in the film when the people in House-1 got the bat, it was clearly retrieved from inside the house and appears to have been left inside the house when Kevin-1 put it down. I’m not 100% positive that the House-X baseball bat is inside the house, though – it’s hard to tell for sure from that very brief shot with an Emily next to the bat.

      At any rate, after the quick cut to an Emily standing next to the baseball bat leaning against a wall, there is then another quick cut and an Emily is shown outside the house approaching the back door that goes directly into the kitchen, she then enters into the kitchen, spies on the group for a brief period, and she is then shown holding the bottle of Ketamine solution and exiting out of the back door in the kitchen that she had just entered through. Moments later, the House-X group hears the car window break and they go outside to investigate.

      All of those quick cuts may just have been done to avoid an unnecessarily difficult single take tracking shot that followed Em-1 around the house as she cased it – but I’m not sure about that. The Emily shown in that quick cut standing right next to the baseball bat might have been yet another Emily – an Em-Z. Or maybe Em-1 was the Emily standing next to the bat, and an Em-Z is the one who went inside the kitchen and got the Ketamine to dose Em-X with.

      The bottom line is, I think it’s possible that there were two Emily’s casing House-X at that time – Em-1 and an Em-Z; that one of them got the bottle of the Ketamine solution from the House-X kitchen and dosed Em-X at the car, put Em-X in the trunk and took her sweater; but that as that “sweater Emily” (Em-1 or Em-Z) stood inside while the House-X group was on the patio watching the comet start to disintegrate, the other intruder Emily (Em-1 or Em-Z) got her – which would explain why the Emily shown after the lights went out as the comet began disintegrating no longer had the sweater on. That “sweaterless Emily” had taken out the “sweater Emily” who had dosed Em-X. Then the surviving sweaterless Emily (Em-1 or Em-Z) saw Em-Y crawl into the bathroom and assaulted Em-Y with the toilet tank lid and then woke up the next day in House-X . . . while Em-X was still alive in the trunk of the car.

      Interestingly, if there were indeed four Emily’s at House-X in the closing minutes (Em-X, Em-1, Em-Z and Em-Y), the sweaterless Emily may not have even known that Em-X was still alive but unconscious in the car trunk – she may well have wrongly thought that the “sweater Emily” she took out inside the house as the group stood on the patio was Em-X.

      This is, of course, conjecture stemming mainly from the “sweater discrepancy”. If the Emily who assaulted the other Emily in the bathroom had been wearing the sweater taken from Em-X at the car, I wouldn’t be thinking along these lines . . . and so if the “sweater discrepancy” was unintentional, then I don’t think there’s any need for a “fourth Emily in House X” explanation.

      Reply
      • KJS

        Also of possible note: earlier in the film, at about the 51:00 minute mark, (just after a Mike returns to what we later learn is the “oven mitt” house from dropping off the blackmail letter and starts drinking, and just after Hugh and Amir fled the “oven mitt” house with the book and “photos box”), Beth and Lee are shown talking in the kitchen as Lee washes dishes (including the green glass like the one that was shown broken in “ping pong paddle house” earlier), and there is a close up of Beth using a hypodermic needle to draw liquid from a bottle labeled “Ketavan” (and seems to then use that to dispense the liquid into her own wine glass). Assuming that needle was also near the Ketavan/Ketamine bottle in House-X, it’s possible that needle and Ketavan/Ketamine were used by “sweaterless intruder Emily” to take out “sweater intruder Emily” silently and quickly in a way that the House-X people out on the patio watching the disintegrating comet wouldn’t have noticed. “Sweaterless intruder Emily” (either Em-1 or Em-Z) could have gotten that needle with Ketamine before “sweater intruder Emily” came in through the back kitchen door and took the Ketamine bottle to dose Em-X with – especially if “sweaterless intruder Emily” was indeed inside the house already during that quick shot of her standing next to the baseball bat. Again, though, if the “sweater discrepancy” was an oversight, there’s no need for this conjecture . . .

      • Bayu

        Wow, Its brilliant. its most make sense for me after all. You know I’ve litle confused with ‘sweter thing’ and you come with explanation that totally I agree–there were two intruder in almost same time. Just want to know how many times did you watch this movie? I mean I’ve watched this movie many many times and still looking for answer on internet lol
        Sorry for my bad english, not native languange

  11. Kuri

    Exchanges between Laurie and Mike:
    -Are you still teaching the yoga? The Spanish Yoga? The Spoga?
    – No. Not me.
    – Are you sure that… Oh, that must’ve been another girl…

    -What do you do for a living?
    -I act. Shut up, guys.
    -I didn’t remember you were an actor.
    -Um, but, no, I was in a TV show for about four years.
    – Yeah? What was that?
    – It was called Roswell.
    -Oh, my God. I love Roswell. When were you on Roswell? What episodes were you on?
    -I was on all shows. Produced.
    – What do you mean?
    – I was a series regular on that show.
    -Yeah, he was, like, the main guy.
    -What character did you play?
    – Joe.
    – Did you have different hair, or something?
    -I had the same exact hair.
    -I’m sorry. Maybe it’s one of those things where you know… the character for so long, then you see someone in person. It just doesn’t compute.

    -I’m sure, you know, like the downward dog probably gets to your h
    – I didn’t do yoga. That wasn’t…

    These exchanges suggest two things. First, in these multiverse parallel worlds, that actual pasts can differentiate between the same people. So while there is a Mike who starred on Roswell in this universe (since it is Mike’s house and he presumedly hasn’t left the house for awhile), there is a Mike that did NOT star in Roswell in a parallel universe. This is why Laurie doesn’t remember him in Roswell or him even being an actor. The proof is furher bolstered by his “misremembering” her as a yoga instructor (Who misremembers jobs like acting and yoga intstructing?). This brings the second point that, in fact, the roulette wheel had already started up by the time Laurie and Amir arrive and so from the getgo they are not Laurie1 and Amir1, but actually Laurie2 and Amir2.

    On Hugh’s prioritization of his brother’s instructions suring the comet:
    – No, you’re not going over there.

    -My brother, he says… he said that if… if anything strange were to happen… while the comet was passing over… that we should stay inside…. That we should stay inside and that I should do my best to contact him. And so that’s all that I’m doing.

    – Didn’t he say to stay inside though? What’s more important than the other? Yes, but this overrides that, and it’s only two blocks away. I’ll be back in, like, five minutes.

    What’s important here is that proverbial S hits the F all based on Hugh’s prioritization order of his brother’s two instructions, which are to (a) not go outside and (b) contact him. Losing phone signals and internet, it is i possible to fulfill both these conditions. Therefore, Hugh must make a choise on which instruction should be given priority. If a Hugh believes that the prioritization order is (b) then (a), then you get the basis for most universe iterations in the film where people start roving around and keep being transported to parallel universes. However, if a Hugh understands priority order to be (a) then (b), then you will be left in the state of HouseX at the end since no one will ever even know something was amiss. This exchange and how Hugh reacts to it drives the rest of the conflicts that arise in this film.

    Reply
  12. Kenny Martin

    I have several questions about the movie. One is why did Laurie 1 not do Spanish Yoga (Spoga) and also why did she not know that Mike 1 starred in Roswell? It seems that there are constantly diverging realities happening even when the comet is not passing by, and the comet just allows them to interact. This is further supported by Laurie saying to Kevin she had to do yoga for a week after the Sharks game. This would suggest that the guests (or at least some of them) drove through the dark spot on their way to the dinner. However, later in the movie, Mike (whatever #) says to Hugh that in every single reality, he has slept with Beth. This is a contradictory statement to the conclusion that must be reached from the Roswell/Spoga conversation. Two, the same characters (not people) return that left. For example, when Hugh and Amir leave initially, a Hugh and Amir return (albeit from a different timeline). Do the characters look through the windows of houses until they find one they are not in? This is still risky, because they can’t be certain why their other selves left that particular house. It could have been to check on the house with lights, it could have been to return the box, etc. We do know at one point two Mikes are in the same house, both from when Mike beats up Mike and also when we see two Mikes tied to chairs. Third, why did the Emily who got attacked by Em1 put the ring on from the car? I assume Em1 put the ring on because she felt threatened by Laurie after hearing from Beth that Kevin and Laurie were talking in the hallway, and Kevin wanted to avoid the topic. EmX (the one who got attacked) was apparently very happy with Kevin. My only guess is EmX put it on for an entirely different reason, and that is out of happiness. Finally, I don’t think, in the ending scene, Kevin got a voicemail left from the night before. His phone, first of all, was making the sound of a Skype call. Even if that was his ringtone, voicemail doesn’t call the phone. You get a single sound or a single vibration when one has been left/received, but Kevin’s phone was ringing (again, it sounded like the Skype dialtone). Additionally, Kevin says “That’s weird. You’re CALLING me.” He didn’t say “Oh, hey, looks like I missed a call from you” or anything like that. This suggests that EmX both did not die and did not vanish after the comet passed. She did not collapse onto herself. The question is why didn’t she tell anybody that she was attacked by another version of herself (the dark version, haha)? EmX could have outed Em1 while Em1 was passed out. Fourth, someone previously speculated that the fade to blacks represented someone passing through the dark area. However, I think that most of the fades occurred when everyone was inside the house. If it means anyone, including from other timelines, passed through, then the fade to blacks should happen much more often. I know the director told us to pay attention to the fade to blacks, but I don’t think that is the answer. Maybe every time it fades we’re in another house? But I think we switched houses at some points without any fades, so I don’t know. My final thought is not a question, but I wish they did more with the door to nowhere. I thought it was set up really well, and when I was watching the movie I was on the edge of my seat whenever a character was standing near the door to nowhere. I know Em1 entered through the door to nowhere, and that gives us something to think about, but the door to nowhere doesn’t have any significance that is made clear. Even with that minor objection, this is still one of my favorite movies ever! The acting is great, the dialogue is very real and natural, the atmosphere is fantastic, and the twist is well-executed. I hope everyone involved with this production finds success in the near future!

    Reply
  13. Hossein

    Thank you guys! Truly clever comments! I think the main story behind the parallel stories is that all the versions (possibilities) are manifestations of choices and the ripple/butterfly effect of choices, and all houses are a manifestation of how events are unavoidable, although carefully planned. Regardless of how many versions we have, the characters meet their destinies on the very paths they take to avoid them, not once, but several times. Only in the impossible possibility/scenario (no one getting involved/ no one leaving/ the perfect house), everything seems to be in place, which is to suggest that when action is triggered, it cannot be predicted or undone, thus hinting at its impossibility (an action will be taken, even if it’s to be triggered by an external, non-belonging Em1). The final phone call, as discussed, is just to prove that all deeds get back to you and there’s no way to escape your actions and who you are. IMHO, the movie is a realization/manifestation of the “uncertainty” of Em, lived and experienced, of all the characters’ “uncertainties” and “dark sides” coming to the surface (what would “I” do in the other house?), of them trying to come into terms with themselves. The final choice that Em makes, justifying the means for the end, ironically get her deep in trouble. If she had accepted the flawed reality, she could have gone through the comet period and mended the relationship, but her escaping (both metaphorically, and also physically from the house) ruined everything. This once again reminded us that there’s no shortcut to a perfect life and it is impossible to erase your past and who you are. I think discussion of the “dark version” needs to be given more emphasis here, especially because of the line:

    “This whole night we’ve been worrying…there’s some dark version of us out there somewhere. What if we’re the dark version?”

    They’re all projecting their “dark side” on themselves in the other houses. They cannot trust their own selves in the other houses, and this is, I believe, what an important point: accepting that this had just started that night, otherwise they were who they were, the darkness was with them all along, internal to them not external. They try to find their original houses as if the people they knew were any different there, as if the reality was “better” were they started. Their escaping from the present by trying to go back to the past (original house) is another sign of escaping their true self.

    Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

    Reply
  14. Pearce

    I only just watched for the first time so have no back up to this or checked it’s possible. I struggled to keep up on this first viewing so I’m probably well off. But..

    I like to think Em1 has ended up in the same reality (reality1)
    but the day before at the very start of the movie when she is calling Kevin. She has now altered this reality but the comet is just arriving and she has a whole night/infinite nights to go through the whole ordeal again. I know that wouldn’t make any sense as they are all meeting that night and Em1 woke up on the sofa but it is only mentioned in the movie that some of the guests havnt seen each other in ages and I don’t recall them being there when Em wakes.

    Just my thoughts. I’m going to have to watch it again. Maybe right now… Great film!

    Reply
  15. anfernee

    so I have a question…you all know when kevin and hugh first showed up in the house right? Well there is something that I thought was an editing mistake but im not so sure now…first when hugh goes to kiss his wife, em and kevin are already kissing..then about a sec or 2 later…the camera gives a close up of them saying hi and hugging each other and then it fades to black…was this an editing mistake? Or did we jump somewhere else in that shot…did somebody else mention this..if so…my bad..cuz im going crazy…hahaha

    Reply
    • Taylor

      Hey there Anfernee,
      Are you referring to the the cut to black? Byrkit has made it abundantly clear that the cuts were very intentional… But he didn’t say why specifically. I should ask him. I contacted him earlier this week about something else.

      Taylor

      Reply
      • anfernee

        its right before the wine cheese ketamine at 5:05 cut to black….
        I was going to give time stamps but your 5:05 cut to black happens at 5:08 for me so this is roughly the order
        1. the ever so important galaxy thrift store moment
        2. kevin and hugh walk in….
        3. kevin walks directly to em in the background and she puts her arms around his neck and they start kissing…hugh and mike greet each other in the foreground
        4 kevin and mike hug
        5 kevin and lee hug
        6 kevin and em say hi (presumably for the second time within that same dimension) and hug again for an extended period of time until wine cheese ketamine the fade to black
        Im inclined to think it may have just been kevin and em getting back to each other more intimately after all of the general greetings were finished, because i would assume that he would greet her first regardless in that situation since they are a couple…but I also entertained the thought could that it could also either be an editing mistake (unlikely), or that somewhere in all those cuts we already switched perspectives, and the second hug we see before the fade was actually the first hug somewhere else and thats what we saw…now I dont think we switched perspectives in the midst of all those quick cuts…but hey…you never know with a film like this…lol especially since the thrift store moment happened right before that

  16. Nina

    What if at the end of the movie, the call that Kevin got in front of Emy1 was from the Em(Em1 again, then?) in the car at the BEGINNING of the movie?
    AND MAYBE the thing he wanted to tell her about was not about the trip but that he saw her doppelganger?
    Then, Em1’s phone broke because “Quantum decoherence ensures that the different outcomes… have no interaction with each other.” and then she goes in a reality where none of this ever happened yet.
    Then, it’s a loop, and the basic storyline is happening over and over again?

    I know it doesn’t make much sens but this idea keeps popping in my head haha!

    Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      Nina, that is SUPER TIGHT. Loving that idea. May even drop that idea into the theory of the ending. Man. Why didn’t I think of that. Cyclical referential chaos is what broke the phone. Makes perfect sense. And the call from Kevin is from the end Kevin, not the beginning Kevin.

      But wait. HOLD THE PHONE (literally). When I wrote a blog about the 20 best time travel movies of all time… I included Coherence at #13. I tweeted out to Byrkit congratulations on making it on the list. His response? And I quote:

      He literally says, “it isn’t a time travel movie”. Hrmmm. What do you think? Hrmmm. I personally love what you are selling though Nina. We should ask Byrkit. Wait for it!

      Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      Alright, I asked Nina… We’ll see what he says. Totally want this movie to be an undercover Time Travel movie… SO BAD. hahah.

      Reply
  17. Nina

    Omg i can’t wait to hear his answer about this! Thank you for sharing this idea 🙂

    Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      Here you go Nina,
      Senjor Byrkit responded. Figured what he’d say, but it was worth a shot.

      Maybe we could abduct him, and force him to put out a news release saying that he was wrong, and that Coherence really is a time travel movie? I think we’ve seen that movie already and it’s called Misery! hahah.
      Taylor

      Reply
      • Sebastian

        Great review and website, just found it today. Watched the movie yesterday the first time.

        I think the phone call at the beginning must have a reason, but I dont beleive it is the Kev from the end of the movie, because he says, they just got of the freeway. Does not make sense, the end kevin just stands there with the other Em.

        However, there is this moment in the phone call at the beginning, where Em says that she cant really hear him. Then it is better again. Maybe in this very moment she suddenly does not talk to the same Kev any more but to another one.

        I think it is interesting that the film starts with an already running phone call (they are already talking) and it also ends with a running phone call between the “same” people.

        It was discussed above and it is clear to me that when in the house, we have already a bunch of people mixed up from different realities.

        What I do not “like” in this discussion is that we talk about someone going back to a reality x, y, z. What the physics says is not that there IS an infinite number of realities, but it says that each moment an infitine number of NEW realities is created. I am not sure how this should be applied to the interpretation of the moview, but I am thinkking that everytime someone leaves the house, he does not go to another reality, but he creates a new one.

        When at the end, an Em knocks out the other Em, then a lot of realities are created. in some of them, Em is probably knocked out forever, in some others, she is not.

        Another key to me seems the ring at the end. It is there twice. This must mean something. Does it mean, that the incoherence and therefore interaction between realities has created a lasting effect, symboled by the ring. Or does it mean that the incoherence is still going on.

  18. Sebastian

    one more thing to add that I think was not discussed yet.

    It was mentioned here a lot of times that the people in the house at the end of the movie never left the house (maybe because of the “dont leave the house” rule)

    however, Em herself made them leave the house at the end by mentioning that she was outside looking at the comet. And she is asked if she has actually used this “door to nowhere”.

    they all leave, except Em and then Em sees the other Em coming out of the bathroom. When she leaves the bathroom, they are all in the house. but are those the same people? I am not even sure if the sentence “dont use this toilet, its not working” means something.

    and the ring? She takes away the ring from the kicked out Em. Where does the second ring come from again at the end.

    Reply
    • Mike

      Em1 dropped her ring when hitting EmX, Em1 took EmX ring from her finger and Em1 ring is there laying on the floor.

      Reply
  19. Ronak

    Hey taylor, i loved the article and it made me watch the movie again the very next minute.
    By following what you wrote here and tracking Em, I assume I got the whole movie except the part that where EmX dissappeared from the bathroom and where was she Calling from to kevinX.
    But what i am more interested in is what does those fade and blackouts actually meant ?!
    Hope your friend Jimmy clears out this doubt also. 🙂

    Reply
  20. Kenny Martin

    If we go with the theory that timelines from before the night of the comet can interact, which is supported by there being a Mike that starred in Roswell and one that didn’t, and a Laurie who did Yoga and one who didn’t, then I propose that Em1 would be, at the end of the movie, looking for the Emily who did take the understudy job instead of giving it up to Katherine Marris.

    Reply
    • Kenny Martin

      Nevermind, I had a discussion with my sister and she enlightened me to the fact that if Em1 were to take the place of an Emily who did not quit the understudy position, Em1 would still not know what it was like to perform in the show, since it happened in the past. However, Kevin’s trip has not yet happened so she can still influence the outcome of that.

      Reply
  21. MonicaL

    Firstly – great breakdown and great comments! It’s so good to read such engaging takes on the film.

    I have a few questions though:
    – Did the alternate realities start to split off only after the coming of the comet?
    – If yes, then why is there a reality where Em did take the understudy role and hence now has the optimal life? Wouldn’t all of the Ems be initially in the same boat and the same position, having turned down the role of the understudy?
    – If no and the alternate realities existed before the comet came, wouldn’t there be an infinite number of realities where the characters didn’t even go to the dinner? Didn’t even meet each other? Have different lives to those presented at the dinner party? Or does the film only show all of the infinite realities where the characters did meet up on that exact same night in the exact same way?

    Would love to hear people’s thoughts!

    Reply
    • zagibu

      I think the movie is based on the quantum decoherence theory, the third option in the book notes from Hugh’s brother Brian, which means that every decision, or “measurement” in the quantum mechanical sense splits off an alternate reality. Usually, they can’t interact, but the comet is causing a gravitational anomaly that creates a sort of “twilight zone”, where the multiverses overlap.
      There should indeed be a massive amount of realities where these 8 people never even meet up for that dinner on that fated day, but since the camera is always following the same Emily, we only see the few realities that she travels through. I think it would have been a good idea to show Emily, while she is searching for the “happy reality”, showing up at the house and seeing completely different people in there. Would probably have made things even clearer.

      Reply
  22. Mike

    I thought EmX called at the end in real time, not a voicemail. meaning 2 Ems exist in the same reality. I’d have to watch it again

    Reply
  23. Mike

    What caused Em1 to collapse? I thought it had something to do with you can’t interact with other selves or you will “collapse” unto yourself. But she seemingly fainted for no reason. And the gaping hole of where did EmX disappear to? Did she poof out of thin air when Em1 collapsed? Did she escape and why wait until morning to call? and how come she didn’t tell the others when Em1 was fainted and out cold? No sense at all!

    Reply
    • Kris

      I think Em1 collapsed at the end of the movie because Beth1 spiked the food with ketamine at the beginning of the movie. In the middle of the movie Em1 asks Beth if she drugged their food and Beth says no but I think this is Beth2 saying she did not.

      Reply
  24. Ryan

    Okay. Just watched the movie twice. Maybe someone will see this. What is up with the brother? Seems like he was clued into something. With the book, the notes, call me if things get weird, etc. Such a trip this movie.

    Reply
    • zagibu

      Well, the notes about the quantum decoherence theory were in a book titled “Gravitation”, so i think it makes sense to assume that he suspected the comet to be messing with the usually disjoint multiple realities in some way. Gravitation is still a very mysterious force, and although it probably is pretty far fetched that a comet could affect the barrier between different multiverses, it’s a good enough explanation for a movie.

      Reply
    • David

      The brother was the theoretical physicist who would have understood that the normal decoherence was somehow cohering. Cleverly, he could not have been written as one of the dinner guests because he would have told everyone to not leave the house until the comet passes to avoid combining parallel universes, which would have made for a really boring movie. A bit of a stretch that the theory was introduced by a brother who just so happened to study quantum physics and had a left a book and his papers at hugh’s house…

      Reply
  25. Michelle

    Hello. Just watched. Love the comments it helped to understand. The idea of so many possibilities and this is only with 8 people. So question… How did Hugh come up with the number 8,038,848 possibilities? Did the math and haven’t figured it out.

    Reply
    • zagibu

      I think it’s 5038848, and he’s calculating the die rolls for each person, which is 6 to the power of 8, times 3 (either for the three different colors of glowsticks or the 3 different colors of the marker the numbers on the photos are written on).

      Reply
  26. QuestionQuestion

    Well, I read many analysis and it seemed that almost nobody took attention to exactly what caused the breaking of the screen of Em and Hugh’s cell phones and why ONLY the 2 of them had broken phones. People seemed to accept that it was the comet that caused the breaking of their cell phones, but if that were the case, shouldn’t the cell phones of the others also broke as well? Does not make a lot of sense to me! The only plausible explanation i read so far suggested that perhaps Em and Hugh started the game ahead of time and “leaped” or “traveled” to another reality before anyone else started realizing there are multiple realities and that they could also jump realities. BUT… that’s it?! That’s all there is?! There must be some event that happened that broke their phones and probably not just the comet passing (the comet event was what happened AFTERWARDS) just wondering what that event could be.

    Reply
  27. zagibu

    I’ve also read a lot about the movie, and I think while the main plot has been figured out fairly well, there are still some weird details left unexplained. For example, when Amir and Hugh first go outside quickly, you can hear Hugh say “Ow”, almost as if he already hit his head then. Or later, when they all go outside, there is some confusion, you can hear Beth saying “Why are you so far away” and Mike “Amir, dude, I can’t see you”, and somebody else “Baby, don’t go”, and then Mike or Amir “Everything done”. Or much later, when Kevin and Hugh leave to get the book for the first time, they are back in 5 seconds, which is also why Emily is startled so much.
    Also, I don’t feel like anybody got the right ending yet. I doubt that the disappearing sweater of Em is an oversight. Also, the reason why Em is collapsing is unclear. Did she take a dose of the drugs herself? And how can Em call Kevin at the end of the movie when her phone cracked right at the beginning of it?

    Lots of unanswered questions.

    Reply
  28. Ailin

    Thanks for this article and all the comments. I just watched this movie for the second time tonight and something struck me and i might be wrong (and have to watch it again) but, i thought i noticed this time that as Em was working out that everyone in the house was from different realities, she herself said that in her house, the random object that they put in the box was a table tennis bat. This means that we are not watching the same Em all the way up to this point for the box that was first opened, with Em 1 present, contained the table tennis bat. If i have gotten that right (and I’m terribly sorry if I haven’t) then there really is no stable viewpoint in the movie, which i really do like.

    Another point is about the ending – or indeed possible endings – because, as i look at it, and look at all the suggestions that people have made here, which i have to add are brilliant, there are a couple of things that stick out. I liked the idea that there were more than two Ems at the end but i don’t think that EmZ clobbered Em1 after Em1 drugged EmX, purely because the Em who was leaning over the sink before she was hit with the cistern cover had no signs of bleeding and looked more like she was panicked from shock and being drugged. So she could have been Em who managed to get out of the car boot or another Em, or another Em, or another Em. And maybe that is the beauty of the ending. Both the Em who is left standing at the car and the Em who is calling on the phone, either of them can be one of an infinite possibilities of Ems and wer cannot know, and to try and find out which Em is which is to go down that rabbit hole of infinite storylines.

    Reply
  29. Joshua

    At the start of the movie, at around 2:41 when Em arrives, she rings the doorbell and then shows up in the kitchen. Then at 4:52, the doorbell rings again and Hugh and Kevin walk in. Who the hell is opening the door for them?

    Reply
  30. Ty

    There’s a lot of good stuff here and I would urge anyone who likes the topic of this movie to read Hugh Everett’s work on the subject or more recently David Deutsch’s (Beginning of Infinity). Btw, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the person responsible for sharing the parallel universe theory is named Hugh (after Everett, I’m guessing- the pioneer of this theory). Reading these works will probably shed more light on the writer/directors intent than watching the movie for the umpteenth time. Anyhow, the movie makes a lot more sense if you understand (1) there is an infinite number of parallel universes splitting off at infinite times from infinite perspectives (in other words, a lot, and more than we can comprehend), (2) the theory of decoherence keeps all of these multiple dimensions separate, which are happening all the time and (3) it’s the passing of the comet that causes the “coherence” or the overlapping of the different worlds and outcomes. Keep in mind that this has happened before in Finland in 1930 which resulted in a disastrous outcome. So the decoherence that is responsible for keeping all of the parallel universes separate and orderly is cohering and therefore causing lots of problem. By the end of the movie, I suspect that we are seeing a peek into the infinite number of possibilities (as well as telling a thought provoking story) and it simply doesn’t matter how you track the different versions of the characters. Anyhow, it sounded like some people were missing that overriding concept.

    Reply
  31. Allison

    Holy cow. I just watched this for the 3rd time with my spouse and then headed online to get some answers. I can see I’m going to be watching Coherence numerous times with a notepad and this webpage open.
    Couple questions/comments:
    * The part about the woman who – during another comet – killed her husband but yet couldn’t be arrested due to his standing in the kitchen : are we to believe he was the equivalent of ” House 2 husband” and somewhere along the way she did in fact kill someone? If so, the dead body just…disappears? Like most of you, my greatest struggle is understanding where the ‘bathtub Em’ went. Trying to understand if she is like the cat but the box is the trunk. She is both alive and dead.
    *If whichever Em it is has waited till just then to phone Kevin, is it because it’s taken until the comet has passed over for her to have service? I guess that’s most logical for the delay.
    *One thing I was curious about in each viewing and haven’t seen addressed so far – why in every scene she’s in was Laurie almost glowing white? I don’t mean just pale. She almost GLOWS she is so bright white. I’ve watched this on 3 different screens and she always looks like this. I cant think it’s just to give her some mystique. She in unnaturally bright. Could there be any relevance to this?
    Lastly a strange-but-true experience. After watching this by myself, I convinced my husband to view it. We reach the scene right before Laurie and Amir arrive, when Kevin and Em are talking about the trip and her decision. I have since read of the importance of that scene and the line about needing time and ” not saying yes is saying no.”
    For the first time ever – and for NO apparent reason – at that exact moment the PS4 we were watching this one JUMPS TO THE BEGINNING OF THE MOVIE. The controls were on the table . We have no idea how or why. Did this happen to anyone else? Is this something it could be programmed to do to utterly weird people out?! I can’t imagine how or why this would be a good idea ( some would say “eh ..defective DVD ” and stop watching.
    What are the odds? I’m thinking of getting a box…some pictures…maybe my teddy bear….

    Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      Hey there Allison,
      Loved your questions. Very good thoughts.

      The part about the woman who – during another comet – killed her husband but yet couldn’t be arrested due to his standing in the kitchen : are we to believe he was the equivalent of ” House 2 husband” and somewhere along the way she did in fact kill someone?

      I thought it was foreshadowing of what actually happens in the movie, later on… or sort of anyway. Except, instead of a person killing their other self, she killed her incorrect husband. Right? He shows up at the wrong house, and the primary for that house hadn’t left and she is left with two husbands. She kills one… and is just considered a bit loopy. But yeah, I think the other person would just phase out? Or the anomaly would just correct itself? Maybe?

      As for the glowing. I didn’t notice that. I mean, I saw it. But not necessarily as glowing. I just assumed it was weird lighting in a low budget movie. But, hey, it could be a real thing. We could ask the creators, they occasionally answer questions I pose to them.

      And as for your player jumping – that is awesome! hahaha. Makes me laugh just envisioning it. It’s a great movie. Wish I could have been there for the filming when the actors had no idea that the pounding on the door was going to happen, or that the lights would go out. Sounds like maybe you are a part of Coherence 2 maybe?!? hahah.

      Thanks for writing! Loved reading your thoughts.
      Taylor

      Reply
      • Allison

        Hi Taylor…thanks for commenting back so quickly.
        I was thinking too that the lack of a dead body meant that only ONE from ” the multiples” can remain. Since the comet had passed it didn’t seem possible any other Em could share the same reality as Original Em. So it lead to me thinking what else could the call signify then?
        I listened with my son’s dj headphones which are crystalline and it COULD be just the actor’s colloquial way of speaking but he does push the H. So instead of ” you” sounding like “yew” there’s a push out of air and he says ” Hugh.” I’m guessing that people are actually more apt to say Hugh as “yew/you” than the other way around.
        I found it online on a site to watch free and stop /start it. If you have the DVD or can go to the website and fast forward to the end – if I can get you on the same page as me lol – we could ponder what accounts for his expression? If we remove it being Em then it’s a whole other complication wheee lol…
        Maybe it really is something as simple as what Hugh is telling him ( I need to re-watch the first scene where Kevin is relating events with Hugh at the lawyer bar etc. to Em on the drive in and see what it may be…Or perhaps something with the book? Maybe he called to say ” Tell Em we found her ring” which may be from another Em in another location? ) and the audience is meant to assume it’s a version of her. The unofficial script may just be some patient soul taking it down word for word and also hearing “you” where I hear “Hugh.”
        Please listen with headphones when you can so I can determine how off the rails I am. He even has an almost bemused chuckle when he looks at his phone. Viewing it again I thought ” This isn’t at all the suspicious , confused response I’d remembered.” That comes after he answers and as he listens to what’s being said.
        I thought, as well, that Laurie was just lit differently at the table because she’s closer to the light near her. But she is disturbingly overexposed through much of the movie. The brightest she seems to shine is in the discussion where she remarks something about “I’m living in the now.” Connected ?
        This movie has me in The World’s Biggest Rabbit Hole lol.
        So glad to bounce this off you. My husband just keeps saying ” That was the weirdest experience” and refuses to watch it a second time. I think it isn’t because he wouldn’t enjoy piecing bits together or noticing things. Nope. He was too freaked by the restart lol.
        Timing was everything.
        Ha. See what I did there.

  32. Allison

    Wait a minute.
    What EXACTLY does Kevin say? I wish I could access the DVD right now but i can’t.
    He says ” It’s you calling?” or something very similar , correct?
    Or does he say “It’s Hugh calling”?
    Hugh is one of the characters. He’s married to Beth as I recall. The big guy whose brother left the book.
    Maybe the look on her face is a combination of guilt, relief and slightly evil as she momentarily panics but then realizes who it truly is. Hugh.

    Reply
      • Allison

        Just thought of another question I’ll tack on here.
        How is it that- or IS IT? – that physical objects if not on the person can be left behind after the comet?
        How is it possible there even are two rings? What about other physical objects introduced from one house into the next or via visitation ( is there bloody tissue in the garbage the next morning? ) Was it because she was in the house and was the one to remain among the Ems, hence HER ring on the floor “belonged and existed” in that reality, while at the same time ,as soon as she took the ring from Bathtub Em and placed it on her finger, it couldn’t leave Em’s body ( Original Em or whichever one places the body in the tub )
        Is that what allows for this? All other objects would depart right? Let’s sat Original Em shows up with 6 boxes and stacks them on the patio outside the Perfect House. They are tangible while the comet is there but we wouldn’t expect anyone to find them after. They would be gone.
        Is it the fact she wears the other Em’s ring that allows it to transcend the comet’s passing?
        Am I overthinking this? Lol

      • Taylor Holmes

        Hey Allison – look at you dragging me back into Coherence after months and months of being away! Hahah. There are so many people commenting every week on so many different posts and different movies that I can only really stay involved in the beginning of a post to get the conversation going, and then I watch the comments (for spam, hostility, and also…) for Goodness and extraordinarily interesting bits.

        If you are this interested in Coherence, have you watched some of the other movies that I’ve dug into here? Like for example, The One I Love? That movie is so much like this one, and yet so different, that I think you’d really dig it. PROMISE YOU. Like, I believe this so much, that I will refund you your rental fee* if you watch it and don’t dig it just as much as you dig Coherence. Big words. I know. But I promise! You will eat it for lunch. Or! Time Lapse… or if you want to go from preschool to your doctoral thesis wrt to time travel, then you ought to check out Primer. Have you seen that? Because if Coherence tied you in knots… Primer will utterly blow your mind.

        I’ll deal with your second question first. From my take on the movie, if Em1 walked into Em2‘s house – usually Em2 would have left. It’s a chain that occurs… 1 goes to 2 as 2 is going to 3 as 3 is going to 4… etc. It was only rarely that we saw 2 simultaneously. Also, their things transferred along with them. Right? Em’s clothes, ring, totems, whatever… moved with her. And if one came and one left, the same could be said about their things. They were now the new rightful heir to the location. No?

        But what happens when 1 comes, and 2 stays?

        Well, we only have two data points. The story you told about the woman who killed her double husband. And the end of the movie. Right? And in both, it would seem that the paradox eventually rectified itself. The dead husband… gone. She didn’t go to prison for ANY murder, let alone murder of her husband. Which sort of begs the question about the second Em that apparently survived right? How did that end up? Personally think our Em, became the redundant Em. But who knows.

        Now, as to whether it was “It’s you calling” or it was “It’s Hugh calling”, I tweeted out to James Ward Byrkit and asked him directly. He will answer probably even before I finish this comment. Or at worst by tomorrow. He’s always on twitter. And I’m sure he’ll be active tomorrow too with the election fired up. We’ll see what he says. And then we can discuss it a bit more fully after we have an answer. Thanks for commenting.

        *- up to $3.99, terms and conditions apply, proof of rental receipt is required.

  33. Steve

    So here’s my two cents on the ending. Because they made a point to show that both rings existed and they had not merged into a singular reality, I’m meaning towards that implying that both Em’s survived the comet and that EmX not only survived (to make the call), but was in the same reality. I imagine her message saying something to the effect of, “she’s an imposter and I’m going to prove it (by showing up)”.

    Reply
    • Allison

      Taylor—thank you for my nervous collapse lol lol. Now I have to watch it YET again, bringing the total number of my views to *mumblemumble*
      With regards to the ending and tacking onto Steve’s comment :
      Here goes lol : If the Perfect House people didn’t run into any issues because they stayed put in the house and they also didn’t read the book ( we see Em1 view it in the car ) is this because they retained electricity and cell service? Were they able to communicate with Hugh’s brother and learn how very important it was to stay put? Would they have called him at all since the reason to contact him was if something strange happened and – for them – nothing did. So assuming they have no real idea ( no book, no experiences, no class syllabus ) as to the whole multi- existence situation – when PerfectEm encounters OriginalEm its her first time having this happen and her mind must be absolutely blown. She has no logical explanation at all to explain her doppleganger. I’d think if she survived the bathtub and escaped she would’ve called the police or any number of people or gone to a door of a neighbor. If they didn’t have cell service till the comet passed she still could’ve gone to another home. I just think it would’ve been so incredibly impossible for her to comprehend the situation, given they presumably are naive to the danger the night held.
      Also, is it possible that the Kevin at the car isn’t the PerfectHouse Kevin and just as Em1 encountered a different Kevin earlier in the movie ( when he seems confused about checking Hugh’s windshield and she backs away and goes back to the house ) she is again encountering another Kevin. Maybe one of the Kevins had the same idea and can co-exist just as she is co-existing with the Em on the phone. If he doesn’t belong to the PerfectHouse, where is PH Kevin?
      Is Em on the phone existing in another dimension that can’t take physical form? Imagine she’s saying ” I’m at the car, where are you?” The two Ems can’t occupy the same physical plane but they she can reach out via phone.
      Obviously I’m overthinking everything and losing my mind lol.
      Taylor I can’t think you enough for the movie recommendations and I’m going to track them all down. I live near a very very large metro area with a huge libraary of video so I think I can successfully find them. Frankly I would be willing to buy them outright for my collection. I’m confident you track with what I’m interested in so this is more journeys I can go on and then pester you about lol.
      Thanks for your patience with me as well. 🙂

      Reply
  34. Shelby

    I just watched this movie then came on here and read every single comment. Some of these theories blew my mind, such as the multiple Emily theory, which is obviously a thing since they would not have accidentally forgotten that she’s wearing the jacket when she just put it on in the previous scene.

    In response to Laurie’s skin, I’m watching it again right now and I think her skin is just flawless (meaning no lines, wrinkles, dark spots, etc.) compared to everyone else. But her color and light looks the same or similar to everyone else but because of the stark contrast between her hair and skin I think the difference is just exaggerated. Two females are blonde, another has glasses which offsets the dark hair, and the men have short hair. That’s my reason for why her skin might look different, similar to this image: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Qy1nh1pyoRY/T46OhgpkTSI/AAAAAAAAABU/lVTG2cX6Esk/s1600/brain-games-optical-illusion_38884_600x450.jpg (both boxes are the same color).

    I love movies like this and will definitely be watching Primer this week.

    Reply
    • Shelby

      ALSO, is there a script that includes notes such as “screen goes black” so I can analyze each of the black screen moments? So far it seems a question is asked every time it comes back from being black but there’s so much I want to focus on while watching this again and that’s something I could easily determine by reading a script. Just wondering!

      Reply
      • Allison

        Welcome to the Rabbit Hole Shelby!! This movie is so stuck in my mind , I can’t even tell you. I’m so glad this forum exists for us to share ideas and thoughts and that it’s an environment where no idea seems too strange or gets savagely beat down.
        I tried to discuss it more with my husband and he said ” Em” might REALLY be short for E=MC2. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry lol.
        Maybe it’s the DVD copy I have which makes Laurie look glowing to me . I’ll try to screenshot and see if it’s that or my own imagination. The interesting aspect to me about that was that she was the “outsider”…she was connected to the group two-fold ( both men ) …and she had made the comment about “I’m living in the now” or words to that affect. She “fit” but didn’t fit, if that makes sense. She also was the catalyst ( not the entire cause of course ) for Em1 realizing her relationship wasn’t steady and her career decision was more painful than she’d realized. I connected Em’s hesitation with the decision about spending time abroad with Keith to be a direct effect from her seeing the consequences of action/inaction and not being bold where her ballet was concerned. She couldn’t trust herself to make a bold leap ( no pun intended lol ) and was in that snarled position of being frozen. Laurie’s arrival and snarky comment ( ” she has your life ” ) serve to push Em into her final decision. So Laurie , in my opinion, plays a very important role.
        Other random questions I have – where was Kevin after Laurie awakens in the Perfect House? Why is Beth still there? Is Beth there without Hugh? Where then is Hugh? We can only place Em, Beth and Lee at that point. Lee makes sense – it’s her house. If Beth stayed we assume they all slept over ( pretty obvious ). Where then is Hugh? Work? Is is Saturday ? Sunday? Do we know? Why then isn’t Kevin at work? Where is Mike? What accounts for the dynamic that adds Beth at the house if one would assume that at morning light, everyone heads home except Lee and Mike ( who live there ) and Em who is sleeping there. Are they sleeping? I don’t know why this bothers me so much but it does lol..
        I watched Primer recently and it requires MANY views. Here’s what is A W E S O M E. There is a director’s cut where Shane Carruth ( who I now have a massive crush on ) walks us through the whole movie. OH BLISS.
        Ironically, it will still blow your mind.
        Back to Coherence – I had a friend make an interesting comment. I had them watch it and we strictly focused on the end. What is he hearing? Which Em is which? Where is this Em on the phone. All of that. She said maybe the answer is ” your own sense of morality and karma”. I asked her to explain and she said that maybe it’s so open-ended ( literally ) because depending on a person’s ability to justify violence ( even against the you-who-is-yet-is-not ) : their willingness to walk away from the person you truly did invest your time in ( Kevin1 ) to be with someone else ( a Kevin Em never really earned ) ; the role trust plays in relationships: the willingness we would have to take a chance etc.- we overlay our own personal moral compass or beliefs over the ending and it gives us our answer. Each answer decided upon is valid and “correct” because there are as many answers as there are alternate realities as there are people.
        If I feel it was incomprehensible Em1 could attack PerfectEm, my idea of the ending is Em1 is at the car and she’s about to lose everything. Maybe even her existence if PEm rounds the corner in physical form.
        If I think Em1 has the right to influence and adjust and manipulate reality as it existed while the comet passed, then all bets are off and I will see the ending as justification. She has succeeded and the call can be someone else on Em’s phone. It can be Perfect Em calling Kevin 1, 2, 3 or 4. The wrong Kevin. Now both Kevin and Em realize they’re both ” in the wrong house” but stuck.
        On and on…so many scenarios. The right ending belongs to the viewer and the viewers decision. There are multiple endings co-existing.
        Needless to say after tossing this concept back and forth a couple hours we ended up in smugly confused and reassuringly affirming each other’s sanity with pathetic fist bumps.
        As I sit here, more and more runs through my mind. Let me toss out something brought up before but which I may have missed the consensus of an explanation for – what if anything did the lights flickering in the bathroom mean when Em? got clobbered and placed in the tub? Did it occur when the two Mikes were together ? I can’t recall . Was it due to some …cosmic…reaction when the two of them are in the same space that much? Was there an absorption process of some sort? Positive and negative? Did the Em at the ending look nothing if not sinister? Perhaps…all the negative of Em – pre-division, re -comet? I know the cutaways and fade to black matter so much , so what is the thought behind the flickering light?
        I’m stuck on that.
        I’m stuck on which Em enters the Perfect House after the Perfect Em is stuffed in the trunk and is it even the Perfect House.
        I need copious amounts of alcohol haha.
        ( P.S I can’t proofread my comments for punctuation, clarity or spelling because I’ll realize how insane I sound and delete them. )
        ( P.S.S Did anyone ever see the movie where a bunch of people go slowly mad over a film they’ve seen and they have to gently and kindly kidnap the writer of said movie and require him to sit with them at a viewing and explain it frame by frame? Ha. Just thinking aloud. … : S )

    • Allison

      Re: Laurie’s Skin. I definitely agree her contrast with skin tone, hair color and the red dress makes her pop out. She also seems seated quite near the lamp.
      I scrolled through an online option to watch the movie and I STILL see her ” glowing” to my eyes lol.
      Here’s a screenshot I took where I find her unnaturally luminescent ( in as much as each individual computer might display it )
      http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=ae87wh&s=9

      Reply
  35. Allison

    Maybe I should check for typos for clarity..
    I typed ” Other random questions I have – where was Kevin after Laurie awakens in the Perfect House?”…I meant when EM awakens of course. *sigh*

    Reply
    • Allison

      Another thought I’m stuck on. Let’s say the Kevin at the car who answers the phone is Perfect House Kevin. It’s Lee saying ” Hey I just found Em’s phone out in the yard” or something innocent. Em1 is safe. She can slide into the Perfect Life.
      Except for one problem. She knows the people but dynamics are different. She knows the better choices made by PerfectHouse Em but she didn’t make them and grow from them.
      How does she not come across as disturbed in some manner if she doesn’t have the memories of what PEm did. Remember how to one Kevin the ring held a lot of sentiment while to the other Kevin it didn’t?
      Memories vary as experiences vary which in turn make the people different.
      For example – in Perfect World, did anything happen between Mike and Beth?
      Did Laurie enter the picture through Kevin at all?
      How long can she sustain interacting with people she knows – yet really doesn’t know? Can she fake it? What a bunch of potential landmines exist as she would try to step into that other life. Can she even rise to the task of being that Em?
      Thoughts? Comments? Help? lol

      Reply
  36. Simon

    Hey, so I haven’t been threw all the comments of course so maybe this has already been said…
    But I have a little theory that could maybe explain why there is an Em calling at the end. Because I have to admit it’s highly unlikely that EmX just got out of the bathtub somehow and waited until the next morning to show up.
    So here it goes : in this reality, Em never showed up to the diner. She bailed, she had something else planed. So the Em we see is just another Em that was looking for the “perfect” reality in which she’s a ballet dancer and agreed to travel with her boyfriend. She must have showed up at the house like “hey babe surprise I managed to be here”.
    So in the morning, the Em that was somewhere else the whole night just casually calls Kevin. And if you watch he’s face, he seems to be fucked up by the fact that he’s hearing Em and seeing her at the same time but I don’t think this other Em is telling him anything in particular.

    The only thing that keeps me from making my mind is the fact that the ring didn’t disappear but the body did. So that’s just another incomplete theory…

    Reply
    • Simon

      Oh, and also a big part of what made me think EmX is not perfect Em is how her mind isn’t blown up enough when she sees her doppelganger without knowing anything about the comet.

      Reply
  37. iva

    I think when Ema starts wandering around she just want to find a house where people didn’t get mad and ridiculous, eventually she finds it, and picks that one; I think it’s not related to Kevin-situation, it’s not love story or trip to Paris; more like she is coming form the worst-case scenario house, where she realizes she has nothing to lose, and she is ready to kill her replicate, when she is straying and looking in different houses she wants to pick a best option for her, no regrets no nothing because she is aware of numerous possibilities, so no regrets in picking the one that suits her at the moment.
    Phone call in the end is where Kevin finds out glitch in that particular reality, for him it makes no sense, but she is very well aware what it might be.

    Reply
  38. Arron

    Absolutely awesome film, not long finished watching it and hungry for more. The way the ending unravelled itself, it felt very psychedelic and I was half expecting it to all be trip and Em had just got greedy with the ketamine. But when that second ring made an appearance followed by the phone call, felt my stomach turn along with hers upon realising it wasn’t a trip.

    I’d love to see some sequels to this, exploring what happened after that phone call in the reality we finished on. Plus it had to be affecting everyone on the planet, so the events of other individuals throughout the night would be awesome.

    Reply
  39. Tim Banon

    Em1 seemed very cunning. I didn’t even catch on until after reading these theories that Emily made everyone leave the last house on purpose. Because you’re not supposed to leave.

    That makes me think that when you enter youre no longer the same. When it comes to the case of the original copy of Emily and her husband.

    Obviously the originals were all flukes. All other Emilys existed before the orginal call. I have no clue as to what happened to the rest of their neighbors.

    Nonetheless, when she woke up in the morning, nobody was the sane person that went outside to look at the comet because they left the house. Was always going to happen even if you originally never left.

    It seems like time travel but its not a time traveler, its just another copy of you that never existed in your space. Hence extra-dimensional travelers.

    Reply
  40. Joshua

    Regarding the fades/cuts to black, I strongly believe that after every cut, the movie resumes in another house (another point of view).
    I sat down with pen and paper in my 5th or 6th viewing (I’ve lost track), trying to keep track of the cuts but I keep coming up boggled in the end.
    I still think that the fades/cuts represent another house, another point of view and will try to watch it again. The problem arises when near the end, with Em, that the cuts get more and more intense and I’m like, is it Em 1? 2? 3? Oh God, I’ve lost track again.

    What do you guys think of this theory? I see Kenny also mentioned this theory previously.

    Reply
    • Seth

      That would fit with the general trajectory of the movie. Where small variations between realities invariably multiply, creating increasingly chaotic situations (doppelgangers tied up in chairs, people openly cheating on their loved ones). Maybe the idea that we’re following a single Em is a myth, and the only actual constant is the descent into disorder. Need to watch again.

      Another seperate theory: drugged up trunk-escapee Em is the actual victor of the bathroom battle. This better explains her passing out upon returning to the party (ketamine). How did the bathroom become shower-ready by morning? The happiness a seeking Em, after waking up in the bathtub, got the fuck out of there and erased all evidence of her existence (blood in the tub) in order to maintain the purity of that reality (in hope of later getting another shot at ‘disappearing’ the drugged-trunk Em, who thinks of her bathroom fight as a weird ketamine nightmare.)

      Reply
      • Taylor Holmes

        Seth,
        Totally never once considered the fact that drugged up Em was the victor. That is classic. What a great upside down perspective that actually pulls the pieces together quite nicely. Totally ought to ask Byrkit that one. Wonder if I can even find him anymore. So good.

        Thanks for the comment.
        t

    • Taylor Holmes

      Well,
      I haven’t read the blog in aeons, so I can’t remember. But wasn’t it Byrkit that said that the cuts were integral to the movie and the discussions they had about the durations of each and their purpose? Which led me to a similar conclusion. That they were indications of some sort of massive shift in the movie. House switches? Person switches? Something. But I too couldn’t actually map them out to any sort of correlated perspective that meant anything. Oh I still have them all mapped. And timed. Etc. But it just came to nothing at the end.

      t

      Reply
  41. zyn

    Since nobody mentioned the keys so far: Left of the door is a board with three hooks on the wall. Depending on the scene the keys are either on a different hook or not there at all. It’s pretty obvious that this is intentional to keep track of the different houses.

    Reply
  42. Jorge Romaguera

    Hi, i just watched the movie and bumped into your blog.

    I really like your interpretation, but i would add 1 thing to it that might really help you out, if no one has mentioned it before.

    As James Ward Byrkit said, the fade to black scenes have a meaning to the movie plot, and i believe i figured it out.

    The fade to black are moments when a decoherence occurs. From those moments, some houses will emerge with different results, and walking through the dark place will randomly place you in one of those houses.

    What do you think?

    Reply
  43. Col

    Hi All, I’m well late to this party as I was only turned on to this film at the weekend but I think I’m close to having it but not quite (big caveat at the end) after supplementing my original thoughts with some of your theories:

    Schrodingers cat is all about decisions which spawn new dimensions, so track all the major decisions and then start on the little ones and it’ll all become clearer (although some things still baffle me).

    First major decision is what colour glowstick – spawns 2 other dimensions. To keep us perhaps tied to the fact there might only be 2 houses it’s a reasonable storyline not to include the green option until much later on (although it could have been green that banged on the door).

    Second is Hugh’s choice as to which is more important – staying inside the house or contacting the brother. As this Hugh decided to leave the house this unfolded the rest of their troubles. The decision not to is the ‘prefect’ house at the end.

    Now, all decisions from this point on are largely irrelevant to explain how we got to the end house with Em, as long as she saw the infinite possibilities and realising that it’s pretty much everyone for oneself. But this point there was still a couple of things that bothered me – the broken glass and the heavy suggestions that different dimensions were brought into the story (mike/laurie/actor/yoga and suggestion of Em being lead dancer in perfect house), but mainly it was the glass.

    What the broken glass showed was that the ‘Door to Nowhere’ also transported dimensions as well as the dark zone. This was also confirmed when Em lost her cardigan when everyone in the perfect house went out the door (except her) to view the comet.

    However, the glass can be explained by someone (I don’t know who because it was only overheard) asking for a water or something when offered wine at the beginning – it wasn’t a wine glass. Everybody in the house went out the door prior to this, so noone changed. In the last house, the fact that Em lost her cardigan was probably due to the fact that the last decision she made before that was whether to take the cardigan or not from the Em that she mugged and threw into the boot (I’m british) of the car… this is the only decision that wasn’t made audibly but we should have got into the habit of it by now!

    However, this is the point where all possibilities of what people may conclude arise from, as this is the point where our frame of reference (FoR) is changed. Up until now our FoR has always been observed from Em’s point of view but when everyone but Em goes outside the camera follows the crowd not Em. Therefore when we return to inside the house, this is a very slightly different Em (one that decided not to go outside). When Mike makes the (now realised) joke about ‘understudy for life’ he looks across as if to address an Em that is outside. As for Bathtub Em, I don’t know or why slightly different Em faints, I’ve got no idea. What is clear though is that it is Boot/trunk Em that calls Kevin at the end.

    Really enjoyed this film and thinking about it, but I don’t think anyone can really solve this puzzle as we’ve been left with more than one variable (any mathematician will tell you you can’t solve an equation with more than one variable) so while the director may have a timeline, there is more than one solution after changing FoR.

    There may be other small decisions made that further some explanations and I did have difficulty following the doors people were using to leave by so more watching required, but think I’m pretty close. Maybe the very first decision was whether Em and Kevin do talk about it before she goes to join the party (but the phone breaks so maybe not … but then hugh’s phone breaks right before as he considers talking to his brother.)

    Curious on your thoughts.

    Reply
    • Col

      oh … forgot to mention the other variables that can’t be explained: 1) the past dimensions -spoga/roswell and 2) the apparent time shifts – we know there are present right from the start, but Schrodinger’s cat theory doesn’t account for this. Only once a decision is made do the 2 or more realities diverge – so there is another space-time factor at play (gravitational waves) but this isn’t explored at all apart from the effects. This is why I think it is very improbable that the true conclusion can be drawn (and why you’ll never get to a point where it is the only possible solution – the satisfaction of solving this puzzle will never truly be realised – only your best guess will have to do!)

      Reply
  44. Alonut

    My thought on the end of the movie is that Em1 is in actual fact the dark version. She is the one contemplating murder and going through all these nefarious actions to get what she wants, she’s also the one that’s always negative (refusing to be an understudy, not committing to going with Kevin). Also I believe that at the very beginning, Em1 actually doesn’t arrive at house1! I think it’s actually a different house to the one she initially set off to. Doesn’t she lose signal twice on the drive there? Once when she passes through the black zone (which “roulettes” her) and then again when she gets there and her phone breaks. And the confused looks on some of the characters faces when another says something could mean that they have said something totally out of character and this happens right from the start.

    Reply
  45. Kusanagi

    hey Taylor, so i read the whole article, and i agree with many things you say. I just now watched the movie. But i just dont get some things.

    First of all, there are two rings in the same universe at the end, right? Right. BUT, it is impossible to have multiple people, because then they would meet each other (they would get mixed up and land in a wrong universes). At the time when the comet was passing, those people experienced multiple universes, BUT in the end, it is all just ONE universe, there are no multiple ones, that was only in their heads, that was the effect of the comet.

    So, in the end, the next day, it has to be all back to normal, and it is. There is only one copy of every person, BUT for some reason there are two rings, which makes no sense. If there are two rings then there also should be multiple Ems and Kevins etc. Since there are infinite universes, there would be mixed up people, it would never end with only one copy of every person in each universe (that is by chance impossible). But, it does end with just one copy of every person, THAT MEANS that the whole event was just in their heads, in reality, there were no multiple universes and there were no multiple copies of themselves.

    Also, at the end Kevin gets a phone call (yes it is a phone call, not a voicemail) from a different Em, presumably from a different universe, but that is physically impossible, because her phone would be connected to an antenna (or sattelite) from her own universe and if she dialed Kevin, her call would be connected to the Kevin in her own universe, and not this one. Why? Because they have the same number, so the antenna physically would connect her to the Kevin from her world, and not this one.

    Sorry if what i wrote here makes not much sense, English isnt my native language.

    So in short, what i mean is, in the end there should be no second ring, AND there should be no phone call from a different universe. yes, the phone call is from a different universe, because there is only one copy of each person in this universe, it’s a fact.

    So i think there is no real logic to all of this, either there is something else going on entirely, but i dont think so, i think the writer just threw in those two things at the end to confuse people a little bit and leave it as a mistery, he probably wants every person to make their own interpretation of the movie, and leave it all a mistery without a logical explanation.

    What do you think? Is this possible or am i wrong? If i am then please correct me.

    Reply
  46. akshay gawand

    I sorted it out…………itzzz abt the end whether the Wht happened to the em of real ongoing dimension…
    So as per me she was alive bcoz if the ring from other dimension can be there along with the ring of current real dimension so there is a possibility that the em from real and different dimension can exist in same reality. And the em from other dimension is trapped into the dimension where she never belonged and the main thing if no one would have left the house then everything would have been fine and in there proper dimensions

    Reply
  47. JP

    I would like to start off by saying how refreshing it is to see such a spirited conversation sparked by a movie. Quantum Theory, Existentialism, Karma, Causality… all because we chose to share in this experience and find some meaning in it.

    I am not going to create a full on theory as to the events of the movie, but suggest my take on it, as well as touch base on a few things that seem to be overlooked in each theory I read. A few things are being accepted as factual even though they never are explained. These are:

    1) WE DO NOT KNOW WHEN THE ANOMALY BEGAN OR ENDED
    2) WE DO NOT KNOW THE BOUNDARY OF THE ANOMALY
    3) WE DO NOT KNOW THE BOUNDARY OF THE VOID OR “Dark Area”
    4) WE DO NOT KNOW HOW FAR THE COMET HAS TO BE TO CREATE THE ANOMALY
    5) WE DO NOT KNOW WHAT EFFECT THE COMET EXPLODING HAD ON THE ANOMALY

    I will address these individually before I continue.

    1) It seems to be assumed that the anomaly began when we first see the comet, or along that timeframe. However there are already inconsistencies before that point in our story.

    2)It seems to be assumed that this anomaly is only effecting this household, when it is stated that the last measured radius of effect from a major comet occurence exploding in the sky above Siberia messed with an area of hundreds of square miles.
    Quite simply the reason we don’t see anyone else aside from the people in this household, is because they are in their own bubble of reality during the anomaly.
    “Stay in the house.”

    3) We know that there is a concentrated area of the void that is represented by a dark area. We do not know if that is the actual border of it, and if it is a fixed size. The only facts we have is that it exists and crossing through it brings you to an alternate reality/chain-of-events.

    4) We know this comet is passing closer to Earth than it has before in documented history. We know the last time it came it created an anomaly. So, in theory, this comet could’ve started the anomaly from a greater distance than is assumed.

    5) We know that the high-altitude explosion of a comet happened in Siberia, that it may have killed people (Or people died during the anomaly), and that it devastated in area of hundreds of square miles. We do not however know what can happen when this comet explodes at the end of the movie.

    Now that I have cleared that up it leaves a lot more room for plausible conjecture as to the outcome of the events that we witnessed. Moving forward I will concentrate on Em and the fadeouts. I will refer to our original Em as Em1, “Perfect World” Em as EmP, and any other Em as Em? I won’t bother with the rest of the cast as I don’t see it as needed for this.

    We start off with Em1 on the phone. Her phone breaks. This is a signifying point to me to let you know she is already under the effects of comet. When she arrives at the house and the rest of the guests start to fall in, We get a fade, and I think this is like M Night Shyamalan putting red everywhere in “The Sixth Sense”. Pay attention! Something isn’t right!

    I believe that something is the fact that no one in this scene aside from the couples Mike and Lee (because they live there), and Amir and Laurie (who arrived together), really know each other at all. Each of them has entered this house from another reality separately. Em1 and Kevin are meeting this version of themselves for the first time. Beth is meeting Hugh for the first time, etc… It gives the greetings and hugs a lot more weight as a scene.

    We have another fade as the drugs are mentioned. The drugs playing a major role in how the end of the movie plays out. If Beth never brought the vial, then how would the movie end? I don’t remember where the scene happened but I would also like to comment againon space-time, and there being too much of the liquid missing from the vial when they confronted Beth about her possibly spiking the food. I postulate that Em? has already been through this house to prepare the syringe to knockout another Em.

    The next major event is the dinner table. This is where we get the first solid piece of evidence things are already screwy. Mike and Laurie seem to not know anything about each other.

    Which tells us that:

    a) as I stated no one in this house knows anyone they didn’t personally arrive with.

    b) alternate realities can have striking differences from prior to this nights events.

    The anomaly is a convergence of all possible outcomes for the entire universe, within the unknown boundary. Our guests are only able to see or interact with alternate realities which wouldn’t create a paradox. Meaning only realities where this exact group of people all came together on this specific night for this dinner will be able to be viewed. Can’t have shrodinger’s cat if the cat never went in the box.

    Hugh attempts to contact his brother, at which point his phone breaks. I believe this also has to do with coherence and paradoxes. Just like Em1’s phone. If her conversation about the trip with Kevin (assuming that is what they were discussing) reached a conclusion, and we are already inside of the anomaly, then that has the potential to create a paradox. Same for Hugh and his brother. If we assume that Em1 HAS to get to that house, that Hugh HAS to go outside, in order to create the chain of events we witnessed. And knowing that the universe will attempt to repair itself based on the provided theories within the movie, we can conclude that the only way to make sure the universe still exists is to keep those phonecalls from happening. Every Hugh doesn’t have a broken phone, because every Hugh didn’t decide to call his brother from the table. Every Em doesnt have a broken phone, because not every Kevin tried to start that conversation with her while she was driving, or they weren’t even on the phone at that moment.

    Beth has a major problem with the “Door-To-Nowhere” referring to it as a vortex and that it carries negativity. Well for the sake of argument, let’s say that Beth really is an empath, and that the door is a vortex. That the universe which always repairs paradoxes, already knew the outcome of how all of this will play out already had an anchor point for the center of this anomaly picked out and these Beth’s could always feel it. Everything bad happens after the decision to use that door to come and go from the house.

    “If you don’t say yes, it eventually becomes a no.”

    I think this scene has significance and a fade for different reasons than most. Some view it as this being the moment Em messed up with Kevin. I prefer to look at this being the first major choice she made inside the anomaly. As we see play out, every time there is a choice to be made it creates alternate outcomes, and alternate universes. Deciding to grab glowsticks meant the possiblity for every color stick in the house to be the color chosen, and alternate realities where other colors were chosen. This moment creates at least one Em who said yes.

    Then we have the first incident with Hugh and Amir. The moment they decided to leave the house they solidified all the outcomes converging together. I believe that Hugh fainted because he couldn’t handle the concept of multiple versions of themselves, and is intelligent enough to realize what that means. Embarrassed and not even comfortable admitting what he saw, he brushes it off and gets bandaged up. Meanwhile we are faced with yet another Hugh and Amir, because most likely these are not the two men we met when they arrived.

    Then we have a bunch of details added to let us know this rabbit-hole goes deep. lock boxes, markers, pictures, random objects, and the only person keeping track of any of it is Em. Em1 realizes she is in the wrong house, and that every one here aside from Lee and Beth may also be in the wrong house.

    Everything begins to break down as existentialism comes into play. Everyone has accepted the fact at this point that while at one point they were individuals, they are no longer. The most important thing on everyone’s mind becomes existence and survival. Mike is engaging himself in a battle of wits to try to control the chain of events in another house, forgoing form, such as referring to himself as an alcoholic, to just being Mike, and needing to survive.

    I believe the reason why the fades all but stop while this is going on is because every character at this point has dropped out of higher consciousness, and is reducing to the Id. They are no longer making rational or thought out decisions, they are merely acting on drive and impulse. No real choices being made, means no divergence, which means no new realities. Just chaos.

    As everything fully descends into chaos Em1 decides to search out an alternative reality for whatever reason. Could be because that reality was too messed up to repair (Mike broke his sobriety. Mike confessed to having sex with Beth, potentially ending that marriage, Kevin kissed Laurie, Em didn’t say yes, etc…). Could be because she decided to try to improve her life by seeing alternative versions of herself to pick from. Could just be she wanted to find a house that didn’t participate, possibly from realizing that the house that didnt participate has the greatest odds of becoming the true timeline, since it created the least possible paradoxes.

    This is the last moment we can say for sure we are still tracking Em1.

    The moment she made the choice to leave the house she created more outcomes again. We do not know how many Ems we are viewing in this scene. We do not know how many houses they collectively entered either.

    We know that an Em who we assume to be Em1, and would make sense from a protagonist perspective in storytelling, decides to usurp the position of EmP, who is in the house that has not participated. She stages an event outside, breaking the windshield, as a misdirection, to abduct herself. She leaves EmP in the trunk of EmP’s car.

    When she enters the house she encounters another Em. I do not believe this to be EmP. I believe that other Em’s have descended upon this house with the same end goal. And I believe that some of them fought with each other. So Em? ends up drugged in the basement after one of these encounters, and is attempting to flee. Em1 beats Em? in the bathroom and stashes her in the tub.

    Meanwhile as all of this is going on the comet explodes. This can only have a few outcomes in terms of the anomaly.

    Anomaly is gone. Anomaly grows. Coherence is permanent now. Decoherence has been re-established.

    I think that Em1 HAD to pass out in order for the universe to attempt to correct the paradox. It is safe to assume that all remaining Ems are all knocked out at this exact moment.

    I think that Em? disappeared because two Ems could not be in the house at the same time at the moment of the comet exploding. I believe that Em1 wearing the wrong ring tied EmP to this universe at the exact same time. How could she be wearing the ring of a person who never existed? And that the only way to solve the paradox was for EmP to still be in the trunk of her car and not at the same time. Shrodinger’s EmP. That is why the handing over of the lost ring is such a significant moment. I believe the reason why EmP calls kevin in that exact moment is two-fold. Because they are standing right against her car. She heard Kevin’s voice and was calling him for help. And because this is the exact moment Kevin decides to hand over the other ring, Linking the two Ems together. Because of the two rings, EmP HAS to exist on some level. And what we are witnessing is the universe trying to repair that paradox.

    That’s what I got out of the movie on the first viewing. Going to watch it to death like every other mind boggling movie I have ever seen.

    Hope you all enjoyed the read.

    JP

    Reply
    • Chris

      Well analyzed JP. This is one of the most well thought out comments I read about movie. I have gained all more insight for this movie after you established what we have to consider in regards to the boundaries of space and time of the anomaly and the dark zone and such. I think you are spot on about the beginning of the movie.

      Reply
  48. Inque

    Hi Taylor,
    I enjoyed your analysis, and your sketches and timeline are very impressive!
    However some things I see differently..and would love to continue the discussion.

    Firstly,
    I don’t believe the fade-outs director hinted are meant to include actual fadeouts in montage, post-production. I believe he meant the electricity blackouts which are kind of unexplained. What if the dark matter, the “roulette center” is moving too, so the electricity blackouts is the dark matter passing through/over one house? That moments are the ones when we really cannot see Emily – and the director clued us on always focusing on her.

    Secondly,
    in the very beginning when the whole group goes out to see the comet, they come back inside and one glass on the table is broken. It’s even mentioned, someone says “when did we break this glass?”
    It seems this group, and possibly other groups as well, changed the house as a unit.

    Thirdly,
    when the group discusses the book, Mike, Lee or someone says that the house is the box, they are the cat. The house is (if we don’t count electric blackouts and their meaning) an untouchable, non-changeable unit.
    This hypothesis has a result in the ending – since Emily-Prime came back to the house and ended up in the bathroom, it would mean that she didn’t cease to exist after comet degradation. They would both be stuck in this reality, as well as one reality out there continues without an Emily for it own.
    This means Emily-Prime managed to escape the house during the night, found some cellphone and is calling now. (I don’t remember where is Kevin’s phone, but Emily’s is in the house). Additional prove is the second ring still existing – if the ring exists, so does Emily Prime..
    This house in the very ending is very curious also – it seems as if they weren’t impacted at all – no one went to “the house with the lights on”, no one was bothering them the whole night.

    Fourthly,
    interesting note was made on one forum.
    In the beginning of the movie, it’s shown that Laurie has no recollection of Mike acting in Roswell, although obviously having been a huge fan of the show. Mike, interestingly enough, doesn’t seem to be having met Laurie as well.. There is a fine line he says: “maybe it was another girl Kevin had dated and Emir is dating now”.
    Who knows if the people we originally see in the movie are the original people outside of the movie’s frame.
    This can be combined with the fact that the whole day people are reporting their phones cracking and technology failing. The comet’s influence is probably not limited to the nighttime.
    This may also be expanding to the next day – maybe the coherence phenomenon is not over with the light of the day. Comet is degrading, but it’s a process in time too.

    What would you say about all this?

    Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      I don’t believe the fade-outs director hinted are meant to include actual fadeouts in montage, post-production. I believe he meant the electricity blackouts which are kind of unexplained. What if the dark matter, the “roulette center” is moving too, so the electricity blackouts is the dark matter passing through/over one house? That moments are the ones when we really cannot see Emily – and the director clued us on always focusing on her.

      Well, I would welcome that theory being true… because I can’t make heads or tails out of his comments otherwise. But he was so clear, and precise about the timing of the fadeouts. But sure, I’ll just assume you are right… though I can’t imagine how they would work. Have you tried counting the actual duration of the blackouts?

      in the very beginning when the whole group goes out to see the comet, they come back inside and one glass on the table is broken. It’s even mentioned, someone says “when did we break this glass?” It seems this group, and possibly other groups as well, changed the house as a unit.

      Yes, I give you this, and even thought of it. But I was focusing on Emily, and everyone else in relation to Emily. I wasn’t specifically focusing on the house as the fixed position. But yeah, I don’t doubt that happened. I should have been more clear that that could have happened… that the house changed out from under them.

      when the group discusses the book, Mike, Lee or someone says that the house is the box, they are the cat. The house is (if we don’t count electric blackouts and their meaning) an untouchable, non-changeable unit. etc etc etc

      Ooh I like where this is going. Back to Schrodinger’s cat. Both realities can exist simultaneously in the same box, as long as no one checks inside the box to see which reality the matter is in. So we have two Emily’s attempting to switch the state before it is observed! hahah.

      Who knows if the people we originally see in the movie are the original people outside of the movie’s frame.

      I would argue that it would be worse than a lottery’s ticket odds against these people being the same. No?

      Thanks for the ideas. I particularly dug your schrodinger’s cat theory… very helpful in understanding the end.

      Reply
  49. Bhavik viroja

    Anyone notice when Hugh calculate possibilies on mobile phone, it shows network on it!

    Reply
  50. Chris M

    Coherence ~ Thoughts from the film
    “Do unto yourself from another reality as you would have yourself from another reality do unto you”

    I want to talk about the tone of the group (after Hugh & Amir gets back or after the blue glow stick group gets back) and they start to realize that they are dealing with a different version of themselves. The scene is now tense with apprehension and fear, (this is a thriller movie, fear makes the movie more entertaining and drives the plot, but besides this) Why?

    For one, there is the fact that these characters are dealing with the unknown that is uncomfortable. No human has ever interacted with a version of themselves from another reality. Being placed in the realm of uncharted territory may already raise fear in a feeble mind.

    However, I see an explicit moment where fear strikes Mike unconsciously. That moment is after Hugh mentions the theory of Schrodinger’s Cat. After hearing that the thought experiment was a matter of an alive cat vs a dead cat, Mike interpreted the strange circumstance they were in as a matter of life or death. Because Mike comes to the conclusion “I’m the cat”, Mike’s consciousness lowered into survival mode.

    I bet this would not have happened if Schrodinger re imagined or reexplained his theory as… For example, Schrodinger’s coin. Let’s say instead of a cat with poison there is a coin instead. The coin is both heads side up and tails side up and it’s only when you open the box that the coin is laying on one side or the other. In other words, if the quantum theory was presented in a way that did not include the element of life or death, then subconsciously Mike would not fear for his life.

    That is why Mike panics and decides that he needs to beat himself to stay alive. “If we’re collapsing right now, I’m gonna collapse on them. I’m not gonna wait for them to collapse on us.” His reptilian instincts have kicked in and he is now trying to outfox and kill his enemy to survive. Humorously, his enemy is himself. I see this as a wonderful illustration of Karma.

    Because Mike has ill intent to do harm to the other Mike, whatever pain he dishes out he will receive (When you punch a Mike, eventually another Mike will punch you). A cool illustration of ‘what goes around, comes around.’

    But I would like to take this karmic principle one step further and ask why have the ill intent to begin with? Why consider that stranger to be your enemy? Especially when that stranger is yourself from another reality? Following the golden rule is especially important when you are interacting with yourself across dimensions.

    As long as you keep your intentions pure you will not cause harm to yourself (from another dimension). Fear fuels the mind with hostile thoughts and acting upon this ill intent transforms you into the dark version of yourself.

    Mike got so caught up with the possibility he could die, where if he didn’t have the intent to kidnap and harm other Mikes, that outcome of him being harmed or kidnapped would likely not exist.

    Reply
  51. Ahmad

    Hi everyone. Sorry I’m several years late to this post. I’m glad I’ve found it. I’ve read all comments. Great comments! Loved them. They helped me understand some points I didn’t get when I saw it first (English is not my native language, sorry again!)
    However, I’ve realized that no one mentioned the numbers written behind the pictures. Why is that? I think those were essential to understanding the plot. Besides, I think there are some flaws in Taylor’s explained story, and I’m going to present another theory explaining the plot. If I’m wrong, I will be happy to see your responses about where and why I’m wrong, because, after all, we’re here to find some answers. Also, I have some questions about the plot and I’ll ask them while explaining the plot. I hope you have some answers for them. Let’s start.

    House¹
    Mike¹: “Are you still teaching Spoga?” Laurie¹: “No, not me.”
    Mike¹: “I was in Rosewell.” Laurie¹: “I love Rosewell.” But she doesn’t know him.
    => They are from different realities.
    Power goes out → blue glowstick box is opened → There is a broken glass on the table (Question 1: Why or How?) → Amir¹ & Hugh¹ go to the dark area → Amir² & Hugh² come back with a box¹ (Ping-Pong paddle + pictures with red numbers) → Hugh² writes a note → another note is found on the door → Hugh² chooses cloth Band-Aid → Em¹ writes a note with a red marker from the pictures of the stolen box¹:
    Lee:1, Hugh:1, Mike:1, Laurie:2, Beth:4, Em:4*, Amir:5, Kevin:6*. (* important)
    Mike¹ & Kevin¹ & Em¹ & Laurie¹ go to the dark area → They see themselves with red glowsticks and run to the house²

    House²
    After the scene that Em¹ asks Mike¹ about having a book on comets, we see Amir³ talking to Hugh³. Hugh³ says: “My wife?” (Question 2: What are they talking about?) → Kevin¹: “Maybe in that reality Beth is napping.” If so, they don’t have the book. → Beth² & Lee² repeat a dialogue that was heard in house¹ => Mike¹ & Kevin¹ & Em¹ & Laurie¹ are now in another house (house²) → Amir³ & Hugh³, while holding red glowsticks, see that blue glowsticks box is opened, which means they come from another house; so, they decide to leave → After delivering the letter and walking into the dark area, Mike² comes back with a blue glowstick. → Amir³ puts the pictures and the oven mitt into the box², takes the book for his original house and leaves with Hugh³ → The broken glass of house¹ is intact in house² → After Em¹ goes to check her car and puts on the ring, she sees Kevin², who is wearing a coat, and asks him: “Is everything OK with Hugh’s car?” But Kevin² doesn’t know what she is talking about because he comes from another reality. Meanwhile, Kevin¹ is talking to others inside the house². Kevin¹ says: “There was nothing in the car and they could see that. So, why did they break the window?” (Question 3: Why?) → Amir⁴ & Hugh⁴ come back with the book, but without a box, while holding blue glowsticks and tell their story; but the others say that they have already heard their story. Hugh⁴ has a different Band-Aid and says he went back to the other house after falling over => Amir³ & Hugh³ knew that they don’t belong to house² the whole time; so, they steal their book for the house to which they belong. Amir⁴ says: “We were at a house where everybody had red glowsticks.” Beth² says: “You (Question 4: Amir³ & Hugh³?) had red glowsticks.” Amir⁴ says: “Look: the red box is unopened” → Em¹ writes the number of each person in a note with a blue marker to mark house² and puts their pictures and a coaster into the box³. Em¹ finds another note written by Em⁰ in green from the pictures of the stolen box²:
    Kevin:2, Mike:2, Em:3, Beth:3*, Amir:4, Lee:5*, Hugh:5, Laurie:5.
    → On the calculator we see: 5,038,848 (=3×6^8) → Em¹ writes the numbers that she remembers from the box¹ with a red marker. She asks the number that was assigned to each of them: Lee² says 5 (stolen box², green note); Kevin¹ says 6 (stolen box¹, red note); Beth² says 3 (stolen box², green note); Hugh⁴ says 3 (another reality); Em¹ was 4 (stolen box¹, red note). → Mike² asks what the random item of Hugh⁴’s house was: Hugh⁴ (+Amir⁴) says the stapler; Lee² (+Beth²) says an oven mitt; Em¹ (+Kevin¹+Laurie¹) says a Ping-Pong paddle; Mike² says a napkin. → Mike³, who has a green glowstick, comes into the house² and attacks Mike². → Em¹ finds another note on the door and leaves house². She finds a monkey doll inside another box on the street. → Em¹ finds a house where everyone is happy. → Em¹ uses ketamine to tranquilize EmX and puts her into the trunk of her car and puts on her sweater. → Em¹ attacks EmX in the bathroom, loses her ring and takes EmX’s ring instead. → Em¹ passes out. (Question 4: Why?) → EmX disappeared from the bathroom. (Question 5: How?) → Em¹ sees the book on the back seat of HughX’s car → KevinX gives her the ring that got lost during the bathroom attack → EmX calls KevinX

    Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      English isn’t your first language? Holy cow. Well done sir, well done.
      I read through it, and all the intricate plotting of the characters and the path forward of each permutation of each character. Got it. Ok. But what is the so what? Why? Etc. What are your thoughts about this flow and this timeline? I don’t think i disagree, but can’t remember it well enough right now to think of where you and I differ. But regardless, give us the reason, the point, the big take away!

      Taylor

      Reply
      • Ahmad

        Hi Taylor,
        Thanks for your quick reply. The reason that I sent these comments was that I thought the plot that was posted above had some mistakes and I had a different understanding. For example, it was said:
        “*Hugh2 and Kevin1 go to car to get book…” (it was Hugh3, Hugh2 stayed in house1)
        “When Kevin2 and Hugh2 come back Kevin2 is still blue glow sticked even though they’ve just swapped” (haven’t swapped: they didn’t go to the dark area)
        “*Hugh4 and Amir3 steal the book and the photos and leave” (it was Hugh3)
        “Right now, the only characters that have remained since the beginning are Em1, and Laurie1” (and Kevin1, as he didn’t go to the dark area)
        “When Em goes into the house it should be:
        Em1, Kevin3, Laurie2, lee3, Beth3, mike3” (those were: Em1, Kevin1, Laurie1, Lee2, Beth2, Mike2)
        …and so on. I think the plot was based on the fact that when a person leaves the house, he or she goes to a different reality, while near the ending Em says, “Remember that dark area that we walked through? I have a feeling that whoever walks through that is like they end up in the middle of a roulette wheel, and they will just end up somewhere by chance. And whoever walks through there will not return to the house that they just left.” So, I see the plot in the way that I stated, based on the fact that “when someone goes to the dark area (NOT outside), they go to a different reality.”

  52. Juan

    Just watched the movie. Came here for answers. Taylor your explanation was excellent and I did read for the past two hours all of the comments on this page and I think I have an ok understanding on the movie. I did not sign up to tell it, just wanted say that for me it has been two hours, but for you my friend it has been two years between your first post and the last one. I feel like I traveled to the future.

    Reply
    • Taylor

      Hey there Juan,
      What an amazingly encouraging comment. Glad the post and all of fantastic contributors in the comments were of help to you! Love movies like this that rattle your brain a bit. There are a ton of movies like this one on this blog that we have been discussing and “traveling into the future” as we do. Primer, memento, the prestige (my theory on that movie is what built this blog to be honest), inception, the one I love, upstream color, on and on and on… hahah. Oh and also, I think I forgot to add a link to my interview with the writer and director of this movie… he proved to be exceptionally insightful! Hahaha. You can check it out here: https://taylorholmes.com/2015/06/20/full-interview-with-coherence-writer-director-james-byrkit/

      Thanks again Juan. Glad it was insightful to you. We had (are having?) a lot of fun beating our heads against a wall to understand it. Don’t be a stranger.

      Taylor

      Reply
  53. shamal

    How do we know whether the original kevin1 and huge1 came to the party at first??? 😮

    Reply
  54. Domy

    Hi,

    I didn’t make my own charts like most of you…I just wanted to say that I don’t think that Em from the trunk is the same Em crawling out from the bathroom..
    Because when Em puts another Em into the trunk, she goes back in the house and she sees another one comming from the bathroom, and she looks at her like “OMG….another one”. Some of you think that drugged Em is the one calling from the trunk at the final scene, which would prove that the one from the bathroom is not her…does this means that it is possible for 3 Ems to be at the same place at the same time…or even more? Because maybe Em crawling from the bathroom did not get hit or whatever by Em2 who got drugged by Em1…drugged Em is the one that was happy and from the reallity whose group decided not to leave house and nothing happened, so she would not have to replace Em from the bathroom…

    Reply
  55. LL

    I think the ending is her getting snapped right back into the original reality she started off in with everyone around her actually oblivious to the events of the previous night. The voicemail was her realizing this in the moment and her reaction of guilt/shame shows her understanding that she will still have to deal with her actual decisions that exist outside of the quantum bubble that the movie represents. And she murdered herself for no reason, I guess. Or on a larger scale, she feels like the ultimate fool for having the hubris to play (with)
    God”.

    Ultimately, I think the film represents what it thinks is constantly happening to us every day, but with the veil pulled back due to this comet situation. Usually, we would be as oblivious as everyone else.

    We still don’t really know why we need to sleep or why people go nuts if they don’t. Sequel about sleep? Hit me up

    Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      I dig that interpretation like a lot. Only glitch though is… I think… wait for it…

      So yeah, you are assuming that the voicemail alerting him to her being a double isn’t that at all? What is the phone call in your interpretation? If she bounced back to the original… then what is on his voicemail? But yeah, that slowed me down. Really good idea in that I really hadn’t considered a near happy ending? hahah.

      Reply
      • LL

        Hey, I’m glad you dug my take on it. I think it’s a testament to your film that all of these dichotomous theories here can all be taken somewhat seriously in their own vacuum.

        As for the voicemail — You could cheese it and claim that the cellphone and it’s reality suffered/experienced the same fate. But when you get technical about it, if the voicemail isn’t saved ON the phone and is being delivered via the phone carrier, than yeah — that falls apart.

        The other way you could work the idea is that it doesn’t matter what is on the voicemail. Her guilty-look reaction represents the fact that she created a prison of guilt for herself, either way.

        Or — and get THIS — she sent him a voicemail telling him they were through and to go fuck himself. Wait, I need to watch it again, it isn’t fresh in my mind anymore. Wasn’t she teetering on dumping that guy in the beginning? Christ, we are in the weeds now.

      • Max

        It’s been over two years since you wrote this article and yet you still think it was a voicemail at the end?! It was a LIVE PHONE CALL not a voicemail…

  56. Jesse

    My interpretation of the movie isn’t that good but hear me out, lol.

    I think it was all a dream (that’s why Em passes out and goes to sleep, wakes up in the morning). Schrodinger’s cat is a theory but it’s also a paradox (collapse will happen only leaving you with 1 possibility, e.i: Em didn’t travel through other realities, there was only 1 Em.)
    What makes me believe it was a dream is because remember the beginning of the movie when everyone’s eating dinner together and they bring up a topic about a woman in Finland “killing her husband” and she said “the man in my house is not my husband because I killed my husband” and Em says they couldn’t arrest her because he was standing right there (paradox, nothing ever happened). I think this movie is just the unexplained and the message is something like deja vu or something us humans still don’t perceive or can understand because our brain is limited. Black holes in real life are basically the same as schrodingers cat. We can’t see past the horizon because everything collapses or in other words “nothing” has happened (the unknown).

    I really liked this movie. 🙂 I just wish they didn’t leave it with a cliffhanger and tell us what was that big surprise at the end of the movie lol. I think it was just intended to be like that to leave the viewer in a state of “what if” so that there’s questions but it was nothing really at all.

    Reply
    • Max

      But that doesn’t explain the ending. it’s the morning, she is awake, and Hugh is talking to a second Emily on the phone.

      Also, Emily doesn’t go to sleep until the end of the film!

      Reply
      • LL

        Okay, I goofed on it being a voicemail and that does indeed undermine my crazy theory a bit unless you really go into the weeds and decide a bunch of time-dilation nonsense that doesn’t fly.

        I guess, after such a great ride, I didn’t want the ending to be as simple as it is. I’m not sure why there is any debate at this point. The guy just learned she is an imposter somehow. She either survived the attack or someone at the hospital or police station made the call with her phone. The details aren’t important, really, compared to understanding that the guy is about to lose his shit.

        But if they have no knowledge of the previous night’s events, how does he even compute that? The negative look on his face implies a lack of “wait, WHAT? WTF?” and more of a “the deuce you say… I accept this and am on it” and I don’t like that — which is why I started thinking outside of the box.

        I REALLY wish the damn scene was him going “That’s weird… did you leave me a message this morning?” which is what I was thinking was the scene.

        If it is a voicemail, it really does texturtize the ending. I mean, was it the version of her who was attacked and left a warning? Or was it something she sent him when she was debating even being with the guy. If it’s the former, it is the same exact situation as the live phone call. But, if it is the latter, she doesn’t KNOW that. So is she the cat who ate the canary because she killed herself or because after the events of the film she can’t imagine dumping this guy via voicemail after her time in a vortex of insane confusion.

        I dunno. I kinda like my idea better… but then again, I’m a film school dropout who never figured out how to navigate the funding of a major project, so I’ll go fuck myself now.

  57. Ryissa

    Oh wow. Talk about a mind bending look at envy, jealousy, regret, outcomes of decisions. If you found yourself completely unfettered what would you do?

    NO SCRIPTS
    I can see why he didn’t want the actors to have scripts. If they understood too much about which version of themselves they were they might have been tempted to portray the permutations of themselves too differently, when the larger point was that these were fundamentally the same people who had lived realities that were only slightly different.

    FOCUSING ON WHICH VERSION ISN’T THE POINT
    It isn’t about which version of a Em or any other character we are observing. Rather, when unfettered from the things that constrain us to the consequences of our life choices how we might act. The less we focus which version of which character or house we are watching, the more we understand about the dynamics of their relationships. .

    Dry versus sober Mike. Affairs. Friends dating exes. Career envy. Who knows what about each other. Who wants whom. What career did a person have/not have. This stuff is constantly changing in the narrative in terms of specific details, but these characters are connected in every reality by minor variations of the above. The comet may be shuffling them in and out of different outcomes, but these individuals cannot disentangle themselves from one another and the impacts their actions have on themselves and the group as a whole. The constant is these characters are always connected.

    IF EM CAN GO SEEKING HER IDEALIZED REALITY, SO CAN THEY ALL.
    To assume that only Em is attempting to change outcomes also misses the point. That we are always observing the prime version of Em is a comforting, but false assumption. At times Em seems to grasp what is occurring but not sharing it, but at other times she’s still puzzling it out. There seems to be a version of Kevin at some point trying to find a reality with his idealized Beth. Is napping Lee a “replacement” Lee trying to be with Sober Mike? Does Beth seek out an oblivious Hugh? Over 5 million possibilities, Em can’t be the only one to ever make a conscious choice about swapping realities. And we cannot assume different versions of characters don’t decide to do so much sooner.

    Finally she seems to insert herself In a more desirable reality where things look like they may work out for her. She literally had to fight for her place in it. We aren’t sure which Em we’re observing, but possibly multiple desperate Ems are wanting to stay in this particular reality (sweater Em, drugged Em, …)

    IS SHE THE ONLY EM?
    The comet disintegrates and seems to have left her there and removed her other doppelgänger(s). We’re told earlier in the movie that when the comet effect is gone people seem different, not that there are duplicates everywhere. So, arguably only one of each character in this reality so she should be the only Em. But then Kevin’s phone rings and it’s her phone calling him and we assume she’s busted as he shoots her an accusing look then credits roll. We assume she’s busted for not belonging in this reality.

    BUT IF KEVIN IN THIS REALITY NEVER GOT SWAPPED HOW DOES HE KNOW — OR DOES HE?
    If he’s supposedly unaware of the roulette wheel effect because that group of characters stayed inside till the comet effect ended, why isn’t he merely looking confused? First reaction to a duplicate girlfriend I’d expect to be “Prank Call”.

    So either his look of accusation is suggestive of him having a better grasp than maybe he should (he’s a replacement too), or … (and I think my next idea is more likely)

    It’s Laurie saying “I just found Em’s cell phone under Amir’s bed…”. (The party she observed through window did have a version of Amir staring at her and he tends to date Kevin’s girlfriends …)

    She may be stuck dealing with the choices of the Em she replaced which still cost her Kevin.

    O Fortuna
    velut luna
    statu variabilis,
    semper crescis
    aut decrescis;
    vita detestabilis
    nunc obdurat
    et tunc curat
    ludo mentis aciem,
    egestatem,
    potestatem
    dissolvit ut glaciem.

    Reply
  58. Taylor Holmes

    *** Public Service Translation Bot 2.8 ***

    O Fortune,
    like the moon
    you are changeable,
    ever waxing
    ever waning;
    hateful life
    first oppresses
    and then soothes
    playing with mental clarity;
    poverty
    and power
    it melts them like ice.

    /End Translation Service ***

    I’m digging on the rest of that poem pretty hardcore:

    Sors immanis
    et inanis,
    rota tu volubilis,
    status malus,
    vana salus
    semper dissolubilis,
    obumbrata
    et velata
    michi quoque niteris;
    nunc per ludum
    dorsum nudum
    fero tui sceleris.

    Sors salutis
    et virtutis
    michi nunc contraria,
    est affectus
    et defectus
    semper in angaria.
    Hac in hora
    sine mora
    corde pulsum tangite;
    quod per sortem
    sternit fortem,
    mecum omnes plangite!

    *** Public Service Translation Bot 2.8 ***
    Fate – monstrous
    and empty,
    you whirling wheel,
    you are malevolent,
    well-being is vain
    and always fades to nothing,
    shadowed
    and veiled
    you plague me too;
    now through the game
    I bring my bare back
    to your villainy.

    Fate is against me
    in health
    and virtue,
    driven on
    and weighted down,
    always enslaved.
    So at this hour
    without delay
    pluck the vibrating strings;
    since Fate
    strikes down the strong,
    everyone weep with me!

    /End Translation Service ***

    I bring my bare back to your villainy?!? hahaha. Brilliance. I’ve never heard of that poem before. Kudos to you Ryissa.

    Now, as to your comments, as always, insightful. I will say that while it doesn’t literally matter that we follow Em-Prime, it does to the sensibilities of the movie. I do like your pontification about their being N number of Emily’s in this last reality, all cut-throat fighting for this perfect Kevin. Like a game of survivor or something. (Or Circle, if you’ve seen that?) That’d be a pretty hardcore alternate ending to momentarily see 7 different Ems walking towards her. hahaha.

    But yeah, I like your grappling with the question about what happens when unfettered from our life choices. What do we do. Reminds me of Time Lapse, where … nope, no idea if I’m throwing spoilers. NEver mind. Watch that. THEN we can talk about it over there. Just trust me. It reminds me of Time Lapse. hahah. But seriously though, it’s an interesting philosophical question as to what we do, and why we do it. Are we bound by morals and ethics when the universe glitches? Or are we empowered to be overlords, and gods?

    This comment has gone way too long. Thanks for the comment Ryissa.
    Taylor

    Reply
  59. Ryissa

    “O Fortuna” by Carl Orff and part of his “Carmina Burana” choral work. One of the most overused (for good reasons) piece of music in film history. (Samuel Barber’s “Adagio” might rank a close second).

    I’ve sung it (well both actually), so it always goes through my head when discussions about fate’s hold on us come up. But I shall stop now lest I knock this thread way off course.

    Reply
  60. Ward

    EmX’s trunk = Schrödinger’s box. Therefore Emx is “alive” or “until” someone opens the trunk (box).

    Reply
  61. Ward

    Edit – Therefore Emx is “alive” or “dead” until someone “observes” her (opens the trunk).

    Reply
  62. Ward

    Edit – Therefore Emx is “alive” or “dead” until some observes her (opens the trunk).

    Reply
  63. chris

    you have many (though seemingly unimportant) details incorrect, and it just bugs me. like why did you say kevin wants her to move to Paris… the movie states it is Vietnam (laurie’s convo in thenhallwaybwith kevin). And its not a voicemail at the ending, kevin says hes receiving a call… from ‘you’ (emily).

    Reply
  64. Andrew Turner

    Why does stuff on the food table change places at around the 5 minute plus mark? Kettle moves, cheese board appears, salad bowl moves. Intentional or goofs ?

    Reply
  65. Andrew Turner

    The Kitchen scene around 5 minutes in, bowls change around, and cheese board appears and kettle moves. What’s going on there ?

    Reply
  66. Jasmine Flootman

    I have spent the last hour after watching this movie on the rabbithole of these comments and I’m not disappointed! I plan on watching again and paying attention to a) the fadeouts and their timing, b) the keys hanging by the door, c) the blackouts of power and c
    d) the possibility that these other dimension versions of them might be conscious of what is happening more than they let on. In response to the comment above, I believe we are looking at different houses.
    Beth is suspect here as well, as I remember the syringe scene with her and don’t remember her using it after filling it.
    What still bothers me is why Em passes out after coming out of the bathroom. Quantum entanglement? Perhaps all the alternates are locked into a pattern of action, and she was the last Em that had not gone unconscious by this point, or the universe was attempting to correct itself somehow.
    As an aside, I was yelling at the screen “See, this is why no one likes you, Laurie!”

    Reply
  67. Adam

    So I just watched this movie a few days ago and then watched it again 2 more times. It…was…awesome. There hasnt been a movie that worked my mind this much, maybe ever.

    Some conclusions I have come to…I am still building out a final theory.

    But the multiple dimensions started happening as soon as the movie started…possibly when Ems phone breaks.

    When Em enters the house you cant tell if it is the original dimension or not. I dont think it is because Mike doesnt know who Laurie is. He must have left the house and re entered in to another house. Em may not be in the original dimension either.

    The houses and characters shown are constantly changing from scene to scene. In the kitchen when Em arrives you will notice there is not a book on the back shelf. But when Em leaves the room Beth is shown with a new book on the back shelf. Curiously this is when Mike ask if anyone wants wine. It seems like the questions of who wants wine, or I need a drink comes up a lot…which has some meaning I haven’t figured out yet.

    There are a number of indicators in the scenes that show we are not always looking at the same house or characters. Mikes shirt is either buttoned all the way up or he has 2 buttons unbuttoned. Hugh has a band aid in some scenes and then it is gone in other scenes. Laurie is wearing a black scarf is some scenes but no in others. You could say that people just change their look occasionally like they would in real life. Maybe Mike gets hot and just unbuttons a button or Laurie just decides to put her scarf back one. But if you accompany those hints with other changes in the scenery I think it has more meaning.

    I think the biggest indicator is that the objects by the door change. There seems to be 3 houses we see a lot…and then a few we only see for a scene or two.

    There are sunglasses on the right of the shelf along with a pair of keys.

    There is a candle with sunglasses and keys.

    There is just sunglasses with no keys.

    I havent figured out which characters we are seeing in each scene though and it is hard to tell when the scenes actually change.

    Also, when the group goes outside the first time to look at the comet you are actually watching at least 4 or 5 different groups. You can tell because Mikes shirt constantly changes.

    In one scene he has a tie on, in another he is wearing a necklace, and so one.

    Also, Im not sure we are watching the same Em the whole time. For example, when the group hears the glass break the first time i can see that as an indicator that Em broke the glass and did something to the other Em like she did at the end of the movie.

    I don’t know, my mind is blown…Im still trying to piece all of this together.

    Reply
  68. David

    There is some problems with your personal ending theory, you can’t send a voicemail to someone without cell service (which they didn’t have during the comet) and usually when you receive a voivemail, you don’t hear the phone ring like if the person was calling you, you just get a notification.

    Reply
  69. David

    There are some problems with your personal ending theory, you can’t send a voicemail to someone without cell service (which they didn’t have during the comet) and usually when you receive a voivemail, you don’t hear the phone ring like if the person was calling you, you just get a notification.

    Reply
  70. sodfjasdf

    It doesn’t make sense at all because the guy didn’t pick up his phone to listen to a voicemail, he was getting a call and answered it.

    Reply
  71. Ash

    Hey Taylor,

    Great site and analysis. Some great comments from people too. I just watched Coherence for the first time earlier this week and can’t stop thinking about it.

    I had one question that is maybe really dumb/obvious that I would catch the second time I watched, but figured I would ask here.

    At any point until the very last few minutes when Em goes looking at all the houses, are we ever in a different house than the original house (other when they are looking outside of the other house)? Like when the action is in the house, is that always the original house? Because I know Beth and Lee never leave, but in some breakdowns it starts talking about Lee2 and Beth2, etc. If so, at what point is that, and is that Original Em that figures it out (I’m guessing when she starts asking people if they remember their numbers).

    I assumed it was the original house always, but then got confused with the comments and also with people calling the original house the oven mitt house, since I thought they put in a coaster (but that would make sense if they were then showing a different house). And if they were showing a different house, were actually MANY different houses shown?

    Thanks for the help!

    Reply
  72. Taylor

    Oh no… we go to several houses. Lots even. That’s what she was doing as she was wandering from house to house trying to find her original fiancé or what have you. (Sorry, haven’t watched it in a while, can’t remember anyone’s name)

    So yeah, tons and tons and tons of houses are visited throughout the course of the film.

    Reply
  73. Ash

    Watched a second time last night, I see that much more clearly now (even if you look between the very first cut to black when they are in the house, pre cut there is avocado in the salad, and then post-cut the avocado is sliced in half but still intact).

    But my new question now is: If they are in many houses, are, Beth and Lee for example (who never leave), always the same, or are they always just the same for their house? To visualize it differently, is it:

    House1=Em1, Beth1, Lee1
    House2=Em1, Beth1, Lee1
    etc

    OR

    House1=Em1, Beth1, Lee1
    House2=Em2, Beth2, Lee2
    etc

    And if the second is true, is it just that we keep being shown the new versions of them in the new houses at the same point in figuring things out as they were in the last house?

    Or are we just following the SAME Em the entire time going to different houses throughout, but then I don’t understand her saying that Beth and Lee were original?

    Ahh Im so confused again..

    Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      More like the latter, but we are only going to new houses when Em does. And she only moves when she crosses the street. Right? Not when she just looks out the door.

      It could coincidentally be the same Beth and Lee. I severely doubt her ability to understand what’s what any more than we do.

      Reply
  74. Tess

    Paris? I thought Kevin was going to Vietnam?? What woman would say no to Paris? Lol

    Reply
  75. JRF

    I just watched the movie and stumbled on this page. Really well thought out analysis all around. Commenting because i want to add a piece which most theories have missed. An integral part of Schroeder’s cat is that both realities exist until one is observed. Only in this movie instead of two outcomes there are infinite.
    I am basing much of this on the fact that the event begins when the phone cracks, as other realities can no longer impact the one we see fulfilling the determinism requirement.
    Following the two threads the director spoke of, in the first we have Em-prime. Going from her car all realities inside the house exist until she observes them. All other people inside can be labeled Mike-n for example. N for the infinite possible iterations they could be. In one reality everyone except her husband and Hugh are in the house already since going in she knew they weren’t there. It could even be possible Laurie was not at any of these dinner parties because she didn’t make it, or was sick, Amir brought someone else etc.

    This explains when they all go outside then come back to find the glass cracked. Maybe in another timeline a different glass is cracked, or none, or the table is on fire. Anything is possible until they observe it. They couldn’t walk back into another house with another eight people sitting down since they all went outside and determinism means they have to come back inside to an emtpy house.

    Another example could be when Lee takes a nap, she could be walking back into any reality where she decided to take a nap. All characters simultaneously experience infinite realities until they observe one. We see Lee-nap because Em walls back into a house with Lee was absent. In another reality maybe lee was in the kitchen, or in the bathroom, we see this one and she was napping. Lee-nap can have all other realities where she took a nap outside her bedroom door until she observes one.

    I think this is why the director made it such a point to show Em looking through all the windows at the end. All realities exist until observed.

    Then viewing the entire movie from that lens, the other thread the director mentions, each fade to black picks up in another reality. All we know is what we the viewer observe, and the fade presents a break in observation.

    I think instead of 5 million possibilities, everything is infinite during the commet. Labeling any character as being from any particular house impossible.

    Reply

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