Movie Review: Vivarium (2019)

Directed Lorcan Finnegan, and only his second feature film, Vivarium is a 2019 psychological thriller. Gemma (Imogen Poots, also starring in the highly MoshFish recommended Green Room, and not so much recommended Need for Speed) and Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) are looking for their first home together, and are drawn into the sales pitch of a mysterious realtor. Arriving at the Yonder housing development, things take a turn for the strange, and the couple realise not everything is as it seems, especially once an unwelcome guest makes an appearance.

+ despite Eisenberg receiving top billing, this is absolutely Poots’ movie. Both leads are great, and while i can’t say I totally believed their chemistry and/or that they would be a couple on real life, they played off each other nicely, principally in regard to their unwanted guest. It was a refreshing change of pace for Eisenberg to be just a regular dude, rather than some super-duper-smart-genius-man, which I’d argue is what he best known for
+ incredibly unsettling design, in both the neighbourhood and the small glimpses of the interior of the house itself. The setting is claustrophobic, despite seemingly also never ending, which means you feel simultaneously trapped and lost
+ there are lots of horrifying sound cues, especially in one aspect in particular: I’d love to know how the newcomer’s voice was done, because to me it looked as if this third person was simply miming over another actor speaking, which I cannot stress enough is simply terrifying
+ it’s unclear what, if any, the overall message to take away from this is, but I have a few thoughts and/or guesses. If you have any thoughts, please post them below

– as with far too many of these movies that label themselves ‘psychological’ – whether they be thrillers, horror or mystery – there are so many unanswered questions that leave a bad taste in my mouth. I’m not saying everything needs to be made clear, but at least give us more to go on

Should you see this film: I had this on my backlog for a month or so now, but finally decided to give it a go and let me say I am annoyed at myself for waiting so long. Both Poots and Eisenberg are great (Poots is a standout), and everything that happens will have you running to discuss with someone else. Things get weird pretty quickly, and some aspects may stay with you for a while.


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