Drifting Off

Coma’s world exists in a shared coma – multiple people join their minds after slipping into unconsciousness, creating a physics-breaking, surreal landscape. Beautiful, but distorted. In other places, rotting away because real world memories lack details.

It’s a violent place, led by an alpha male, Phantom (Anton Pampushnyy), who uses this space to dominate. He’s not inherently villainous; Coma represents individual fantasies, all bunched together, coming into conflict with one other. The hero is The Architect (Rinal Mukhametov), a pacifist artist, leading this downtrodden place to a potential Eden of his own making.

The focus for Coma is undoing social norms from within a possible paradise

Originating in Russia, Coma defies a country defined by its power and masculinity. Coma asks for understanding and respect, breaking through a militaristic worldview, allowing room for interesting, engaging philosophical chatter. Between rounds of dizzying action, Coma asks about life, and whether our known reality is better than one controlled by our ambitions, freed from physical restraint. Those stuck in this uniquely visualized limbo still fight to live, even if there’s no known chance to recover. Time moves slower here – at a 1 to 100 ratio, it’s explained – meaning this life can exist for countless years (or at least what seems like it). Eternal fantasy or limited reality; that debate is stirring sci-fi material.

Although stuck in a spot where thick exposition is required (and pacing sags because of it), Coma rarely goes too long without spreading its gorgeous design in lingering wide shots. In 2012, an American indie Upside Down presented something similar. Both Upside Down and Coma deal in romance, the latter less so. The focus for Coma is undoing social norms from within a possible paradise, if only people let their aggression subside.

The Architect eventually wakes up, layering Coma with added narrative intrigue. Cult-ish behavior drives the scenario toward a cynical worldview. Even when given limitless power to reset, to redesign how we live, someone inevitably seeks to exploit and claim themselves as ruler.

Chasing these survivors, death figments, those clinically dead but left on life support at their family’s request. Coma approaches this as selfishness and an inability to let go, introducing another moral conflict over what it means to be alive. Between kinetic, innovative action scenes, Coma lets these ideas simmer. There’s a direct story about the underdog hero saving the girl against tyranny in a digital effects-driven space, but Coma willingly pauses to consider its concept for more than photographic quality. While there’s cost to the entertainment value, the grander ideas hold after viewing.

Video

Almost certainly shot digitally, the lightly added grain structure creates marginal issues, including chroma noise. It’s not a consistent bother, but shows up too often throughout the runtime. Also, without the mega-budget of Hollywood, effects render at lower resolution, leading to regular aliasing on tinier details. Given the numerous wide shots showing bent cities and angular buildings, expect to see a lot of this.

Otherwise the Blu-ray carries exceptional definition. Strong facial texture and environmental flourishes keep Coma sharp. Few scenes counter this pleasing look. Even costumes and the oil-ish Reaper monsters display grand fidelity.

Superlative contrast marries to dense black levels, keeping dimension at a firm peak. Subtle shadows keep detail around minus crush. The color palette swerves into a noticeably digital grading, from the overly hefty flesh tones to thick grays and blues turning into a constant. Primaries stick out around Coma’s world, so it’s anything but lifeless. The chosen aesthetic drains the brightest hues though.

Audio

Russian and English tracks both use DTS-HD, a rousing presentation that’s active in the low-end. Reapers walk with satisfying bass accompanying their steps. Pieces of this limbo collapse or move, generating a nice rumble. The score likewise contributes to the range. This isn’t the deepest or most powerful example, but enough to bring weight.

Surrounds perk up as needed, handling a complex, tiered shoot-out between elevated streets. Bullets sweep between speakers, and panicked voices pop up in rears or stereos, furthering the audible space. Any action plays with design possibilities, always accurate and reliable.

Extras

Four featurettes, all less than two minutes each, and not worth the time.

Coma
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

Surreal, engaging, and philosophical, Coma’s creativity designs action around any possibility while debating life’s reality.

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The 15 unaltered images below represent the Blu-ray. For an additional 29 Coma screenshots, early access to all screens (plus the 120,000+ already in our library), 100 exclusive 4K UHD reviews, and more, subscribe on Patreon.