Vivarium – Film Review

Vivarium: an area, usually enclosed, for keeping and raising animals or plants. In Latin it directly translates to “place of life”. A pretty simple concept that writer Garret Shanley has spun into a smart science-fiction thriller that will have your skin crawling.

Imogen Poots stars as Gemma, a young and passionate primary school teacher, who along with her boyfriend Tom (Jessie Eisenberg), are on the hunt for their perfect home. While visiting the office for a suburban development called Yonder, the pair reluctantly agree on an impromptu inspection of their potential home. They follow the unnerving real-estate agent, Martin, on a short drive to the house. After a quick tour of the house Martin disappears leaving the couple behind.

Tom and Gemma try tirelessly to drive out of Yonder, but no matter how hard they try, and which direction that they go, they wind up back at their house, number 9. Accepting defeat they decide to call it a night and retire to the house where they have a dinner of champagne and strawberries, planning to resume their escape the next morning. 

Escape attempt number 2 proves fruitless, and after a couple of days in Yonder a mysterious box arrives in front of their house. Inside that box is a little baby boy, but not your average baby boy as this boy grows up rapidly. After just 3 months, the boy has grown to the size of a 5 year old and is learning from observing his “parents”. The actions of the boy keep you on edge and guessing what’s coming next, as he just exudes creepiness.

I’ve got to give major props to Senan Jennings and Eanna Hardwicke who play the young and old boy. Senan does a great job of acting as an innocent boy trapped in a strange world, but his performance coupled with the voice effects makes for a spine tingling awkwardness. Eanna’s performance is much more mature and reserved, carrying himself with great confidence and strength, leaving Tom and Gemma fearing for their lives. 

The story of the film is quite a simple premise, and not too far out on the science-fiction, leaving a great deal of realism to the whole film. The character development is good, but could have been a little better. I would have liked to see more of Tom and Gemma‘s struggle to accept their life. The pace of the film is great and features a couple of small time jumps to keep the story moving and not drag things out too long, which I felt was a great move by the creators.

I thoroughly enjoyed Vivarium, which contained great performances from the very small cast, although I did guess the ending of the film halfway through. That said, this didn’t hinder my enjoyment of my film and I would highly recommend it to anyone that enjoys thriller and mystery films.

Vivarium is now available to view via Video-on-Demand (VOD) at Google Play, iTunes, Telstra, Fetch, Foxtel on Demand and Umbrella Entertainment.

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