This Irish made sci-if horror hybrid is a singularly unnerving watch
Irish director Lorcan Finnegan's nasty little sci-fi shocker is in the proud tradition of The Twilight Zone and Black Mirror, with more than a dash of David Lynch, but it also serves as a droll and cautionary tale about the need to settle down and get on with the rest of one’s life, sometimes against one’s best instincts.
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Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg both turn in excellent performances as Gemma and Tom, a young couple struggling to get on the housing ladder but seemingly not too anxious about it either. Taking up an offer from a idiot savant estate agent, they view a compact home in a suburban sprawl called Yonder only to find that they’ve become trapped in an wholly empty labyrinthine of anonymous looking streets and serried rows of identikit houses stretching off into a sickly puce horizon.
Watch Alan Corr’s interview with Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg
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As the days past, laughing disbelief turns to fear and horrified realisation. Reality becomes a mirageand confusion over their unexplained entrapment becomes white hot fury.
One day, they awake to find a baby with the simple instruction to "raise the child and be released", and this changling, a kind of Sheldon Cooper meets Damien from The Omen, becomes both a source of revulsion and also perhaps the answer to their cruel predicament.
It has a sickly look of suburban malaise and Tom and Gemma slowly become slaves to the pleasant valley conformity, like an anaesthisted couple in a Talking Heads song with a morbid punchline.
Vivarium is a macabre and blackly humorous tale of resident evil. Obviously, Gemma and Tom should have run a mile when they saw their dream house was Number 9 and while the timing of the film’s release into our current Covid-19 climate of paranoia and quarantine is, of course, purely coincidental it is also uncanny.
Not short on shiver-inducing moments of surreal madness and creeping dread, Vivarium also captures an all too believable sense of a slow descent into madness, while also serving up a smart indictment of our housing crisis. There are few answers and many questions linger, not least whether this is the best movie about the perils of home ownership since The Money Pit.
Alan Corr @CorrAlan2
Vivarium is available to view on Apple TV, Amazon, Sky Store, iTunes and numerous other sites.