A young couple Gemma (Imogen Poots) and Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) are struggling to find the perfect home. Gemma is a teacher and Tom does maintenance repairs and garden work at the same school Gemma works at. After work, the two decide to visit a new real estate agent seeing what is new to offer. They hear about a new community that is being developed with lots of new homes at affordable pricing. The salesman seems a bit off but the two decide to have a look anyway.
But strange things begin to occur for Gemma and Tom. While looking at what could be their new home, the real estate vanishes and disappears. Gemma and Tom decide to try to leave the property, but they cannot escape. They drive away but no matter what streets they take, they always end up back to the same house they were looking at. They become trapped in this home with no way of escaping, alone with no one to help them.
What is the purpose of them being trapped? Will they ever escape?
Within a matter of minutes, the films setups up an interesting mystery and brings a clever concept. Being forced to stay in once place with no reason given to our leads feels rather uncomfortable to see as a viewer. The film had my attention particularly once Gemma and Tom discover there is no escape from this home and community. I wanted to know what on earth was happening in this film. The plot is engaging and the journey that our leads take is uncomfortable and has multiple horror elements thrown into the mix. Considering the film’s build-up, I can state I was slightly disappointed in the films reveals and ending.
The film has a key focus on sound effects which I enjoyed. It is these sound effects that help with the tension and uncomfortable feelings within the film’s duration. Soundtrack was also light and fun, but the effects were a standout to me.
Performances were also solid practically in the 1st act. Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg are very convincing as a happy couple who the couple are dating but now need to work together with this frightening situation. As the film progresses changes occur with its characters which I also felt weaken the core and heart of this film. Without spoilers, I cannot say much else other than that.
Overall, Vivarium is a very interesting film. It’s also quirky, unsettling, odd and it had my full attention for the whole runtime. Performances between Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg were pleasing along with a great sound design particularly with effects. The films ending did leave me disappointed as audiences will find gaps and unanswered questions as the credits roll. Considering what was being built up in its story, I hoped for a bigger bang to the film’s conclusion.
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Review Written by Peter Walkden