“I’m not your fucking mother!” – Gemma
Social distancing in The Twilight Zone. There isn’t a better time to release Vivarium, a film about a young couple dying to find the perfect home. Soon after Gemma and Tom (played by Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg) visit house nr. 9 in what seems to be copy-pasted straight out of Tim Burton’s mind – painting-like identical clouds on the sky included – they find out they’re stuck in Yonder – “Your home. Forever.”. What follows is some sort of commentary on the hetero normative ways of living that comes back to bite us in the ass.
Lorcan Finnegan‘s film (which he co-wrote with screenwriter Garret Shanley) doesn’t give our couple much to do, beside roaming the empty streets of suburban purgatory in a depressive state of mind, until a baby in a cardboard box gets dropped in front of their new home. With it, there’s a note stating they’ll have to raise the child in order to be released. The child grows rapidly and is definitely a caricature on how annoying children really can be. Screaming and mimicking their voices like some sort of small alien demon, it mostly gets on Tom’s nerves, who escapes the dreadful long days by digging for clues in his own front yard, looking for another way out.
It’s mostly Poots who does the heavy lifting here in which she interacts with the child when it’s not looking at some mysterious Videodrome-esque tv-screen, who’s mysteries never get revealed. While Eisenberg slowly gets turned into a one-dimensional being, the film drags further to a somewhat surprising twist that doesn’t explain a thing, but leaves you thinking about the way we are all just numbers and in the end just get replaced, whether that may be in the workplace or in our personal lives.
Lorregan has a vision and executes it well, although his suburban nightmare never gives a direct answer to all the questions you might end up asking. This social experiment from hell takes a bit too long to puzzle its way through what in the end seems like a waste of time, and is perhaps just a bit too real to be considered a bad joke, or as we call it, life.
Vivarium is Available on VOD from April 16 on Google Play, iTunes, Telstra, Fetch and Umbrella Entertainment. Foxtel on Demand from May 6
Review – ‘Vivarium’
Reviewed online (screener provided by Umbrella Entertainment), April 15, 2020. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 97 min.
Production: An Umbrella Entertainment release in association with Lovely Productions of a Fantastic Films, Frakas Productions, PingPongFilm, XYZ Films production. Producers: Brendan McCarthy, John McDonnell. Executive producers: Todd Brown, Brunella Cocchiglia, Lorcan Finnegan, Gabe Scarpelli, Ryan Shoup, Nick Spicer, Adam Tertzakian.
Director: Lorcan Finnegan. Screenplay: Lorcan Finnegan, Garret Shanley. Camera: MacGregor. Editor: Tony Cranstoun. Music: Kristian Eidnes Andersen.
With: Imogen Poots, Jesse Eisenberg, Jonathan Aris, Senan Jennings, Eanna Hardwicke.