Film Review – Vivarium (2019)

Title – Vivarium (2019)

Director – Lorcan Finnegan (Foxes)

Cast – Imogen Poots, Jesse Eisenberg

Plot – Looking to buy their first house, young couple Emma (Poots) and Tom (Eisenberg) get stuck in an horrific inescapable suburban horror when they go to look at their property.

“What am I suppose to do with him?”

Review by Eddie on 17/08/2020

Unquestionably unique, with director Lorcan Finnegan molding together drama, horror, mystery and sci-fi around a film that could be taken as either a straight up analogy of modern suburban living or a Lovecraft inspired horror, Vivarium is also a chore to sit through, as initial intrigue gives way to tedium well before the half way mark of this 90 minute affair.

Set almost entirely in a Tim Burton like neighborhood of houses as Jesse Eisenberg’s charisma free school gardener Tom and his teacher girlfriend Gemma (the always good Imogen Poots) find themselves trapped in a house they came to inspect, as well as put in charge of a strange child that appears on their front door, Finnegan’s intently odd feature length film has the bones of a truly gripping original piece of cinema that on execution here would’ve been far better suited to an episode of The Twilight Zone or Black Mirror.

Everything in Vivarium feels half explored at best, with the insistence of Finnegan’s effort to answer few if any of the questions we begin to have about what on earth is happening to Tom and Gemma and who is behind it quickly giving way to frustration, as we like the couple get stuck in and endless loop of happenings and going’s on that are akin to going about chores around the house.

Compounding the films frustrating lack of giving us anything to chew on rather than our own thoughts and theory’s is the fact that with so much time spent solely with Tom and Gemma, they remain throughout mostly cold and empty figures in this bizarre tale.

Outside of some very early set-up that shows Gemma is clearly the more motivated of the two and that the two enjoy some good old fashioned reggae music, Eisenberg and Poots get little to build upon in their respective roles that would’ve made our rather boring narrative alongside them work in a more sustainable manner as we endure their quest to try and understand the mess they find themselves in.

Throughout the film are little glimmers of the movie that could’ve been, the young boy the two are in charge of is an at times mightily unnerving creation and some questions the film raises are worth exploring but it never helps the fact that Vivarium runs out of gas far too early and arguably never had the destination worth the trip anyway.

Final Say – 

A disappointing offering that at the very least is incomparable to any other film before it, Vivarium has the bones of something great but this is akin to a house inspection your best off avoiding at all costs.

1 high decibel breakfast time out of 5 

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