A Vivarium is an enclosure, container, or structure adapted or prepared for keeping animals under semi-natural conditions for observation or study or as pets…..basically the Big Brother house, a series that could only be improved by the introduction of a rabid Bengal tiger with Covid-19. Here the Vivarium unwittingly turns out to be the home that young couple Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) & Gemma (Imogen Poots) are so desperate to buy and get themselves on the housing ladder. Like any prospective new home owner they go to their local estate agent. It’s the first sign that something is wrong when the agent, Martin , rather than having sprayed himself head to toe in supermarket cologne and donned a shiny suit, is something of an automaton with an odd tonal manner. It’s a freaky role quirkily played by Jonathan Aris who takes them to the house saying, ‘This house is forever!’.
All the signs are there already that something’s not right. The house is identical to all the others in the street on the geometric and anonymous estate seemingly designed with all the imagination of Donald Trump naming his son Donald Trump Jr. With Martin having cleared off leaving them on their own the pair find it impossible to find their way out of the estate and regardless of which direction they drive they always end up back at the show home. Having tried every way to fathom out of the situation they eventually resign themselves to the fate that there may be no way out. The couple’s frustration is further tested when a baby in a box arrives on their doorstep like a Uber Eats delivery gone awry.
Now few parents can deny that kids are a test on the patience. Our Editor had recently even considered a termination for his twins until the doctor pointed out that they are teenagers. The baby becomes a boy unnaturally quickly and just as quickly becomes hugely irritating screaming about anything and makes The Omen’s Damien look angelic in comparison. Tom’s previously jocular disposition is already being tested and he turns sombre and positively murderous in his intentions towards the boy and it’s only that Gemma’s instincts as a teacher kick in to try and nurture the boy that saves him.
From a story by director Lorcan Finnegan this is his second feature and plays much like a longer episode of The Twilight Zone crossed with a Moebius strip as their life becomes one long repetitive series of events with Tom digging an ever deeper hole in the front garden as he attempts to escape from the hum-drum banality of their lives. Vivarium is a bleak satire on surburbia in an age where for most couples the highlight of the week is getting finger blasted on a DFS sofa whilst watching X Factor as they wait for a family bucket of fried chicken to be delivered.
Here’s the Vivarium trailer……
As all cinemas are now closed due to the pandemic Vivarium will be available on the following digital platforms:
Curzon Home Cinema