Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots’ goal of becoming homeowners veers into strange and sinister territory in this smart and unexpected sci-fi horror.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2019
A gripping dystopian nightmare to surpass the very best Twilight Zone and Black Mirror episodes, Vivarium centres on Gemma (Imogen Poots) and Tom (Jesse Eisenberg), a young couple who dream of purchasing a first home. After meeting Martin, a rather odd real estate agent, they agree to visit a surreal new housing development called ‘Yonder’. With rows and rows of identical houses appearing to stretch on forever, it seems as vague and interminable as the name suggests.
This ultimate version of suburbia takes a sinister turn when Gemma and Tom realise no matter how hard they try to leave Yonder, they keep returning to the same place. Soon, they discover they have no way of communicating with the outside world. All the other homes appear to be empty. Forced to act like real-life SIMs as their dream home becomes more prison-like with each passing day, they eventually welcome someone – or something – else into their increasingly desperate situation.
Lorcan Finnegan’s debut feature, Without Name, was an eye-catching ecological spook fest that never veered off into predictable Hollywood formula, and this superb follow-up will only raise his stock as a director of superior genre cinema. Smart and unexpected, Vivarium is the logical antidote to the overblown drivel that big-budget spandex studio tentpoles vomit on the apathetic public. — AT
“In his second feature, Finnegan twists suburban banality into something altogether horrifying and unnerving… Unmistakably cinematic in scope… Vivarium impresses with its clarity of vision and originality.” — Bradley Warren, The Playlist