Film Review: Vivarium

Frances Winston reviews this sci-fi offering from director, Lorcan Finnegan

Directed by: Lorcan Finnegan Starring: Imogen Poots, Jesse Eisenberg, Eanna Hardwicke

In light of the Irish housing crisis, this seems like a rather timely offering. Poots and Eisenberg play Gemma and Tom, a young couple who just want to find a home. But like the adage says, be careful what you wish for.

After an appointment with an estate agent named Tom they view a house in a brand new development called Yonder – a picture perfect suburb featuring row upon row of identikit houses. To be honest it’s my idea of hell. And seemingly Gemma and Tom also find it unappealing and don’t plan to take the property. The estate has other ideas however and despite their best efforts they find themselves unable to leave and completely lost in the labyrinthine suburb.

Things get even stranger when they find a box containing an infant with a message telling them that they will be set free if they raise the child. They basically go from flighty young couple to parents living in a three up two down overnight. But of course, in keeping with events to date, this child is far from normal. He grows at a rapid rate and is incredibly needy. Pretty soon the physical and psychological toll of their imprisonment begins to drive a wedge between them.

Personally I wasn’t sold on Poots and Eisenberg as a couple. There is nothing wrong with their performances per se. They just lack chemistry. They were actually at their most believable when things start to deteriorate between them. But because you don’t believe in their relationship this doesn’t have the urgency that it should.

There is a lot of repetition throughout this – from the overlong scene of the couple initially trying to leave the estate, to the constant futile escape attempts, to the day to day interaction with the child. There were one or two points that went beyond déjà vu and into tedium. The plot also never feels resolved. You leave with more questions than you had at the beginning of the film and it feels almost unfinished.

In many parts this somewhat reminded me of the 1984 Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense offering Child’s Play (not the Chucky film!) where a family suddenly find themselves trapped in their own home. But this felt just a smidge too long at 97 minutes, and would have benefited hugely from cutting some of the repetitive scenes.

On paper, the premise of this is clever, and it works mainly if you don’t analyse it too heavily (some of the ideas and scenes really don’t stand up to over thinking). It isn’t reinventing the wheel and doesn’t bring anything new to the sci fi genre. It’s inoffensive and isn’t pushing any boundaries. This won’t be to everyone’s taste but it’s an OK watch if you fancy something a bit left of centre.

In Cinemas March 27th!

About EILE Magazine

The new LGBT magazine; available online, for download and on podcast. It's time for another view.
%d bloggers like this: