HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Invisible Man, The
Honey Boy
System Crasher
Judy & Punch
Bacurau
Battling Butler
Vivarium
Seven Chances
Dogs Don't Wear Pants
Navigator, The
Knives Out
Hit!
Charlie's Angels
Passport to Shame
Le Mans '66
Keep Fit
Doctor Sleep
Friend or Foe
Brass Target
Mine and the Minotaur, The
Sky Pirates
Syncopation
Sea Children, The
Ghost of a Chance, A
Go Kart Go
Great Buster, The
Seventy Deadly Pills
Wings of Mystery
Treasure at the Mill
VFW
Crime Wave
Terminator: Dark Fate
Slithis
Antonio Gaudi
Oscar, The
Color Out of Space
Last Holiday
Zombieland: Double Tap
Mind Benders, The
Mighty Wind, A
   
 
Newest Articles
Put the Boot In: Villain on Blu-ray
The Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 2: Vic Pratt Interview
All the Lonely People: Sunday Bloody Sunday on Blu-ray
Desperate Characters: Beat the Devil on Blu-ray
Chansons d'Amour: Alfie Darling on Blu-ray
Ozploitation Icon: Interview with Roger Ward
Godzilla Goes to Hollywood
Demy-Wave: The Essential Jacques Demy on Blu-ray
The Makings of a Winner: Play It Cool! on Blu-ray
Sony Channel's Before They Were Famous: A Galaxy of Stars
Start Worrying and Hate the Bomb: Fail-Safe on Blu-ray
Completely Different: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 2 on Blu-ray
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
   
 
  Vivarium Escape From Suburbia
Year: 2019
Director: Lorcan Finnegan
Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Imogen Poots, Jonathan Aris, Olga Wehrly, Eanna Hardwicke, Senan Jennings, Molly McCann, Danielle Ryan, Shana Hart
Genre: Horror, Science Fiction, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Gemma (Imogen Poots) is a primary school teacher who is looking for somewhere to move in with her boyfriend Tom (Jesse Eisenberg). One day, after school has just finished, she notices a little girl in her class standing alone by a tree, and goes over to check on her to find she is looking down at a couple of dead chicks that have been pushed from their nest by a cuckoo. Gemma tries to explain that this is part of nature, and the girl shouldn't be upset, but her explanation fails to satisfy the girl. Anyway, Tom is here and they are due a visit to the estate agent's, so off they go to a place in town that sounds promising, selling suburban houses at reasonable prices to young couples. Perfect!

But not if you want more from life than bringing up your kids in a suburbia that seems endless - and a trap for any dreams you may have had outside of the usual conventions. That would appear to be the message of Vivarium, a barely classifiable conundrum which took a premise of Luis Buñuel's The Exterminating Angel and updated it to the housing crisis of the twenty-first century, where if you can actually afford your own home it may not be what you want, and more something you have to put up with rather than relax into. In the Buñuel, guests at a dinner party find it impossible to leave, a dig at the bourgeoisie the Surrealists were so suspicious of, yet there was sympathy for the victims here.

Director Lorcan Finnegan came up with the story with screenwriter Garret Shanley for a co-production between their native Ireland, Denmark and Belgium (spot the nods to Magritte in the design), and though the action took place under an expanse of sky, peppered with clouds like wallpaper, there was a sense of being suffocated here. Now, if you like suburbia and living there, and have no problem with a narrow set of rules society places on its expectations for the birth-school-work-death and kids in there too parameters life customarily delivers for the majority of the population, then you will not have much patience with what the conjured up: just quit whining, basically.

Things could be worse, at least you have enough to eat and a roof over your head, yet the horror stemmed from Tom and Gemma's realisation that these trappings were imposed on them both by nature - note the cuckoo analogy throughout - and the lines their communities roll along. In a Twilight Zone twist, once they have reached the home they are viewing, they end up left there by the estate agent (off-kilter Jonathan Aris) and unable to leave. Not through want of trying, but every road they take leads them back to Number 9, the house that may be identical to the others yet has been marked out as theirs regardless, despite them believing it was not for them at first glance and going along with the viewing more out of politeness as anything else. That, it is implied, is how society gets you in its clutches.

It was a striking-looking effort all round, from the pale blue colour scheme of the planet of homes to the infusion of weirdness that invades what appears on the surface to be perfectly unremarkable. Every time you thought Finnegan and Garret were running out of ideas, they came up with a new development to either prolong the suspense or turn the screws on their two protagonists, starting with the delivery early on of a baby. No, Gemma isn't pregnant, but there is a box in the street which holds an infant with instructions to raise it to be released, though you will be aware it doesn't say how they will be released. As every scrap of optimism is stripped away, the metaphor became all the more punishing, and with all the light at the end of the tunnel extinguished over the course of the plot, not everyone would like how this was resolved, even those who recognised it had a point. Poots especially added a dash of humanity to what could have been academic, and it impressed in its dedication to hopelessness. Music by Kristian Eidnes Andersen.

[Released on digital 27th March 2020.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 71 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
Andrew Pragasam
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton
   

 

Last Updated: