Vivarium Movie Review

A young couple looking for the perfect home find themselves trapped in a mysterious labyrinth-like neighborhood of identical houses that holds a dark secret. Blu-ray reviewer Ralph Potts had to opportunity to check out the Digital release of Vivarium from Lionsgate Home Entertainment and, offers his thoughts on the film.

My Thoughts:

“A young couple looking for the perfect home find themselves trapped in a mysterious labyrinth-like neighborhood of identical houses that holds a dark secret.” – Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

Tom and Gemma (Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots) are looking for the perfect home. When a strange real-estate agent takes them to Yonder, a mysterious suburban neighborhood of identical houses, Tom and Gemma can’t wait to leave. But when they try to exit the labyrinth-like housing development, each road takes them back to where they started. Soon, they realize their search for a dream home has plunged them into a terrifying nightmare.

I am generally a fan of multi-genre, especially those that revolve around tales of sci-fi/ mystery/horror. Vivarium is co-written/directed by Lorcan Finnegan and is an indie film with a somewhat bizarre and intriguing plot that is shaped so as to be both unsettling and thought provoking in its themes. Part cautionary tale and character driven dark fantasy, it reveals its elements in layer peeling fashion, which give it the feel of an episode of Black Mirror or the Twilight Zone.

Given the nature of the story this works in perfect balance to its underlying allegory which takes aim at the desire for perfect suburban life. While some of that is a bit of a reach, the narrative is set to proper scale within the subtexts that bring all of its parameters together. As the story unfolds you can’t help but wonder where its leading and why. This all becomes clear at a very specific point and, while it isn’t a shock, you appreciate the nuance that rendered it. Much if this is owed to both the writing/direction and the solid performances by Poots and Eisenberg.

Vivarium isn’t destined for cinematic greatness but, it’s certainly a nifty little gem that speaks to the sort of visionary filmmaking that reminds us why we are fans.

The Digital Code I received for Vivarium was for 1080p. I redeemed it on Movies Everywhere/iTunes which included 5.1 channel sound. I am uncertain whether or not the Blu-ray version will be forthcoming given the current circumstances. I would add that the 5.1 channel soundtrack included with the streaming version is quite good, containing lots of room shaking bass and involving surround sound. The Digital version also included the bonus features which is welcomed. My rating for the film and bonus content is below.

Film:

Bonus Features:

Blu-ray/DVD Release Date: May 12, 2020

Bonus Features:

  • • Audio Commentary with Director Lorcan Finnegan and Executive Producer Brunella Cocchiglia
    • “Creating the Suburban Nightmare of Vivarium” Featurette

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman color calibration software and Portrait Displays C6 HDR2000 colorimeter from Portrait.com)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Oppo BDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/Roomie Remote V6 Universal Remote Control
SVS Ultra Tower Speakers (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Center Channel (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Niles Audio In-Ceiling/In-Wall Series Speakers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems