Vivarium (film)

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Vivarium
Theatrical release poster
Directed byLorcan Finnegan
Screenplay byGarret Shanley
Story by
  • Garret Shanley
  • Lorcan Finnegan
Produced by
Starring
CinematographyMacGregor
Edited byTony Cranstoun
Music byKristian Eidnes Andersen
Production
companies
Distributed by
Release dates
  • 18 May 2019 (2019-05-18) (Cannes)
  • 26 March 2020 (2020-03-26) (Ireland)
Running time
97 minutes
Countries
LanguageEnglish
Budget€4 million[4]
Box office$434,030[5]

Vivarium is a 2019 science fiction psychological thriller film directed by Lorcan Finnegan, from a story by Finnegan and Garret Shanley. An international co-production between Ireland, Denmark, and Belgium, it stars Imogen Poots, Jesse Eisenberg, Jonathan Aris, and Éanna Hardwicke.

It premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on 18 May 2019, and was released in Ireland on 27 March 2020 by Vertigo Releasing. The film follows a couple (Eisenberg and Poots) who are forced to care for a mysterious humanoid creature while trapped in a strange, vivarium-like neighbourhood.

Plot[edit]

The opening scene depicts the brood parasitism of a cuckoo before introducing primary school teacher Gemma and her landscaper boyfriend Tom. He buries a dead altricial chick ejected from its nest. They drive to meet with real estate agent Martin and follow him to a suburban development of identical houses called Yonder. Martin shows them around house number 9. He asks if they have children, and when Gemma replies, "No, not yet", he mimics her perfectly. After looking around the garden they find Martin has vanished. Attempting to leave, they repeatedly find themselves back at number 9. They drive around the endless, identical streets until they run out of fuel.

They sleep in the house. The next morning, they try to escape on foot, but consistently return to number 9. They find a box of tasteless vacuum-packed food in front of the house. Tom sets fire to the house and they sleep on the pavement. When they awake another box has been left, containing an infant and the message, "Raise the child and be released." When the smoke clears, the house is undamaged.

98 days later, the infant is the size of a ten year-old boy. It mimics Tom and Gemma and shrieks when it wants food. When it calls Gemma "Mother", she insists that she is not its mother, while Tom refers to The Boy as "it". Gemma and Tom wait in the garden with a pickaxe to attack whoever delivers the food, but they never see anyone. Tom begins digging a hole in the garden and becomes withdrawn. In the living room, The Boy watches fractal-like patterns on the television.

Tom locks The Boy in their car, thinking if someone comes for it they could force them to free them. However, Gemma takes pity and releases The Boy. Tom continues digging and begins sleeping in the hole. One day The Boy goes missing and returns with a book of symbols and diagrams of humanoids with throat sacs. When Gemma asks it to mimic the person who gave it the book, it makes rasping sounds and inflates its own throat sacs.

The Boy matures to resemble a young adult and Tom becomes ill. The Boy leaves each day and Gemma tries to follow it but always finds herself back at number 9. Tom continues to dig and finds a corpse in a vacuum bag. The Boy locks Gemma and Tom out of the house and they sleep in the car. Gemma pleads with The Boy for medicine for Tom but it replies, "Maybe it's time he was released." Tom dies and The Boy zips him into a vacuum bag and throws it into the hole.

Gemma wounds The Boy with the pickaxe. The Boy hisses and crawls into a labyrinth under the sidewalk. Gemma follows and crashes through a door into multiple rooms in other houses with more Boys and several strangers, one of whom has died by suicide.

She lands back in number 9, weak and moaning. The Boy is cleaning the house. He carries her to a vacuum bag explaining that mothers die after raising their sons. She dies as he zips her in. The Boy buries her with Tom and drives back to the real estate office, where an aged Martin lies dying. Martin gives The Boy his name tag and dies. The Boy zips Martin into a vacuum bag and puts it into a garbage chute disguised as a file drawer. When a couple walks in the door, The Boy greets them just as Martin did.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

In May 2018, it was announced that Lorcan Finnegan would direct Vivarium from a story he co-wrote with Garret Shanley, and that Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots had joined the cast.[6] It was shot in locations in Belgium and Ireland before moving to Ardmore Studios, Wicklow, Ireland.[7]

Release[edit]

Vivarium premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on 18 May 2019.[8][9] Shortly after, Saban Films and Vertigo Releasing acquired US and UK distribution rights, respectively.[10][11] It was released in the United States, UK and Ireland on 27 March 2020, with a limited theatrical release and video-on-demand release the same day.[12][13]

Reception[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, Vivarium has an approval rating of 72% based on 149 reviews, with an average rating of 6.6/10. The site's critics consensus reads, "Vivarium may confound almost as often as it intrigues, but this well-acted sci-fi/horror hybrid has interesting ideas—and explores them with style."[14] On Metacritic, the film has weighted average score of 64 out of 100 based on reviews from 23 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[15]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Wildcard Distribution - International deal for Irish comedy APOCALYPSE CLOWN announced at Cannes".
  2. ^ "Vivarium".
  3. ^ a b c "Vivarium". Cineuropa. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  4. ^ Trenholm, Richard (2020). "Jesse Eisenberg stars in Vivarium, the perfect self isolation horror movie". CNET. Vivarium, which cost 4 million euros (about $4.3 million, £3.6 million or AU$7.3 million).
  5. ^ "Vivarium (2019)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  6. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (2 May 2018). "'Vivarium': Imogen Poots, Jesse Eisenberg Enter Sci-Fi Thriller; XYZ Selling – Cannes". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
  7. ^ "Vivarium Locations". www.latlong.net. Retrieved 26 October 2022.
  8. ^ "Vivarium". Cannes Film Festival. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
  9. ^ Goodfellow, Melanie (22 April 2019). "Cannes Critics' Week unveils 2019 line-up". Screen Daily. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
  10. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (11 July 2019). "Saban Films Acquires Sci-Fi Thriller 'Vivarium' With Imogen Poots, Jesse Eisenberg". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
  11. ^ Clarke, Stewart (11 July 2019). "Saban Takes U.S. Rights to 'Vivarium' Starring Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots". Variety. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  12. ^ Baxter, Joseph (18 February 2020). "Vivarium Trailer: Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg Star in Psychological Horror Film". Den of Geek. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  13. ^ "Vertigo Releasing Announces the UK and Irish Release Date for 'Vivarium' on Digital 27th March 2020" (Press release). Vertigo Releasing. 27 March 2020. Retrieved 27 March 2020 – via Fetch Publicity.
  14. ^ "Vivarium (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 10 October 2021.
  15. ^ "Vivarium Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 24 May 2020.

External links[edit]