Vivarium: Film Review


I missed Vivarium during the 2019 London Film Festival so I’m glad it’s finally coming out because this creepy, unsettling gem is worth a watch.

The film follows Gemma (Imogen Poots) and Tom (Jesse Eisenberg), a couple who are on the hunt for their first home. One day they are driven out to see Yonder, a massive housing development of creepily identical and empty homes. The couple has no interest in living in such a soulless place but their estate agent abandons them and when they try to leave, they seem to go round in circles, constantly ending back up at their home. They seem to be stuck there – and then a baby mysteriously appears and they are instructed to raise it.

Vivarium gave me real Black Mirror vibes. It was eerily, unsettling and slightly disturbing and I was gripped the whole time. It also really resonates. I thought about it on the tube home after seeing it and again the following morning. Most high concept premises like this can’t sustain themselves for a feature-length runtime and this was the case with Vivarium ever so slightly, once they get into the rhythm of everyday life. But it was always interesting and mysterious and I was excited about where it might go and it delivers at the end. I always love the unexplained to be explained but I actually think keeping the mystery alive works best here, as it certainly made me do a lot of thinking.

Both of the characters get more and more resigned to their situation as it goes on, as it seems pointless to try and outsmart the “people” (they’re definitely not actual people) in charge of their captivity, but Tom becomes obsessed with digging a hole in the front yard, as it’s something he can do that feels like progress. He loses his mind and Poots is the one to hold things together and raise the weird, freaky boy like her own son. Her exasperated and exhausted performance is the standout.

Vivarium is definitely worth a watch. It begins with such a cool, simple idea and maintains that unnerving tone throughout and comes to a conclusion worthy of Black Mirror.

Available on the following digital platforms from Friday 27th March – iTunes/Apple TV, Amazon, Sky Store, Virgin, Google Play, Rakuten, BT, Playstation, Microsoft, Curzon Home Cinema, and BFI Player

Rating: 4/5 

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