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By midlandsmovies, Apr 27 2020 08:59AM



Vivarium (2020) Dir. Lorcan Finnegan


Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg star in this mysterious drama as a couple looking for a home to begin their life together in new film Vivarium.


The suburban nightmare begins as their characters Tom and Gemma get taken to a housing complex called Yonder by a bizarre estate agent. The homes are endless carbon-copy rows of duplicate green houses and picture blue skies with no other residents in sight.


After the agent disappears the two are unable to find their way off the estate, their car running out of petrol and their mobile phones eventually failing so they return to the bizarre #9 house they first visited.


Unable to leave, the couple try burning the house which they find rebuilt the next day, before a box is left on the street one morning by parties unknown which contains a baby. The otherworldly scenario continues as the baby grows to the size of a 7-year old in just 3 months and demands constant attention.


The film’s eerie atmosphere is incredibly unsettling and the intriguing beginning leads to further and further strange occurrences. The young boy’s screams still haunt my dreams and the performance of Poots as a mother who is first disgusted, then sympathetic, towards this “entity” is exceptional.


As time ticks on, there’s hints of sci-fi, supernatural and mythical symbolism alongside the obvious parallel of a couple trapped in a routine they cannot control and with their personal dreams slowly dwindling.


The events begin to take a psychological toll on the couple – the child soon becomes a man, a textbook book containing freakish alien language appears and Eisenberg becomes obsessed in digging a hole in a gravely scene of domestic gardening.


Kudos should also go to the Senan Jennings who plays the burdensome child with such (intentional) flatness, his erratic appearance is terrifying every time he shows on screen. This kind demonic demeanour hasn’t been seen since the similarly discomforting Damien from The Omen (1976).


Unconventional, horrifying and beautifully bizarre, Vivarium is a somewhat obvious and on-the-nose analogy of a middle-age crisis in a modern Ikea-saturated world. With fears of parenthood, loss of individuality and restless boredom the film explores the monotony of homely life and the subsequent dreary doldrum.


However, with arresting and shocking images throughout, and some of the most peculiar story beats and characters I’ve seen this year, I recommend ‘settling down’ to watch Vivarium for an unescapable journey into familial hell.


★★★★½


Michael Sales



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