Vivarium (2019)

vivarium poster 2019 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Interesting concept and look

Feels like a few missed opportunities with the story

Movie Info

Movie Name: Vivarium

Studio: Lovely Productions

Genre(s): Horror/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s):  May 18, 2019 (Cannes)/March 27, 2020 (US)

MPAA Rating: R

vivarium yonder neighborhood

Welcome home!

Gemma (Imogen Poots) and Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) are a young couple trying to take the jump and buy a house.  When they walk into a real estate office for a new development, the odd salesman Martin (Jonathan Aris) has to show them the project.  Yonder isn’t like other neighborhoods and now Gemma and Tom aren’t leaving.  Saddled with a strange child, the horror of day-to-day life in a world they cannot escape is a reality.  They are already home.

Written and directed by Lorcan Finnegan (who co-wrote the script with Garret Shanley), Vivarium is a psychological horror science-fiction film.  The movie premiered at Cannes in 2019 and was released to Amazon in 2020.  The film received generally positive reviews.

My sister recommended Vivarium to me.  I hadn’t heard of it and was looking for new horror movies to stream.  The movie has unique ideas and concepts and the horror is an inherent horror about adulthood.

vivarium middle finger imogen poots jesse eisenberg

We give this home a positive review

The movie is a pretty balanced science-fiction horror film.  It explores a lot of ideas and the horror erupts from these ideas.  The movie is circled around the idea of a cuckoo which is a type of brood parasite.  It lays its eggs in other birds’ nests and forces them to raise its young (which results in the death of the natural children.  In exploring this horror, basic fears develop.  The idea of being saddled with a house, a wife, and children and becoming part of a homogenized community that you cannot escape is a fear of a lot of people and creates a strain on relationships.  Vivarium finds this fear and amplifies it.

The movie is a good source for Poots and Eisenberg.  It gives them both more grown up roles than many of their previous ventures and it also gives them two wildly different characters.  Eisenberg wants nothing to do with the monstrous child, and Poots varies on her commitment to the child.  The inhuman child played by Senan Jennings and Eanna Harwicke is rather terrifying and also has resembles of the challenges of dealing with a child with a disability sincehe cannot connect and is prone to fits of rage until he gets what it wants.  The child (and later adult) will not quit…and beats its parents into submission which dovetails back into the idea of a cuckoo.

vivarium child screaming senan jennings

Having kids is fun!

The movie puts the characters in a stylized suburbia.  It is generally computer generated, but that also makes sense since it is the idea of a neighborhood by the strange organism growing its young.  I do question some of Eisenberg and Poot’s plans and have to assume we don’t see a lot of their neighborhood tests like what is in the other houses and what is under their house…do the houses have a sewer system?  Where does the water go or come from?

Vivarium is a film with a lot of ideas that could have even been explored in a TV series.  It feels a bit like The Prisoner in that sense and there is a paranoia and panic over the whole movie.  What happens if you can’t leave the life you’ve built?  Is it a trap that you can never escape?  Enter Yonder and visit the themes of Vivarium and think about your own life and its trappings…who is the cuckoo in your world?

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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