‘Vivarium’ Weirdly, and Unsettlingly, Satisfies
Like the rest of us dealing with COVID-19, Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots are stuck at home with nowhere else to go. Yes, that is the plot, and it is entirely coincidental that many of us can relate to it. In Vivarium, however, isolation is much more sinister.
Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) and Gemma (Imogen Poots) are young, in love, and ready to get on with the rest of their lives. And, to do that, they have to find the perfect home. Perfect for them, at least. That is when they meet a mysterious real estate agent. This agent takes the happy couple to Yonder, a suburban development that is meant to be perfect, with no house dissimilar from another. Immediately, Tom and Gemma know that it will not be for them, but they entertain the stranger and let him show them around. This would prove to be a big mistake, as the two find themselves alone with no way to get home.
Suburbia takes on a whole new meaning, while Tom and Gemma try to find their way home, dazed and confused. Mysterious circumstances, such as the appearance of an infant in a box, also make matters even more perplexing. What will they do, and how long with they be stuck?
Vivarium is weird. It is crucial to get that out of the way. But it is the type of weird that keeps you watching, interested, and waiting for the other shoe to drop. As madness ensues, Eisenberg’s and Poots’ characters are left to wrangle with psychological terror in a too-perfect neighborhood that will not let them go.
Jesse Eisenberg’s performance is par for the course, which is somewhat erratic and nervous. But this sci-fi/thriller is perfect for Eisenberg’s cadence and mannerisms. For Imogen Poots, it quickly becomes apparent that she is the lead within a sparse cast. The fear that her character goes through manifests itself so chillingly.
For a night in, Vivarium is sure to please anybody who likes odd, art-house tones.
This review first appeared on Salt Lake Film Review