Vivarium Review

September 25, 2019 at 3:25am
By Jason Stettner

This is an interesting sort of sci-fi and horror film, it’s very weird. The story follows a young couple as they aim to look for their perfect home. After stepping into a rather strange environment, the two are taken to a neighborhood, and it becomes a labyrinth. This element of the narrative is reached quickly, and the story largely deals with the two trying to understand what’s happening.

At the start of the film things are rather funny, and intriguing. This continues for a short time, and then it gets a bit too weird. Match this with a situation that gets slightly boring, and it didn’t reach its full potential. It has some really neat situations that are presented across the run time, but I wish it would have dug into the mystery element a bit more.

There was just enough for it to be vague, and that was frustrating to some extent. I was left wanting to understand more of what happened, yet wasn’t enticed enough to care too much. They definitely used the environment well considering this was largely focused on just a house. It’s hard to make such a limited space last for the entirely of a movie, and it worked here for the most part.
Vivarium Wallpaper Emmet
I also wish they would have used Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) more, you understand his struggles yet it seems like they needed to remove him from the main spotlight over time. There also should have been a further push of discovery, I felt they could have tested things in this world more as it just sort of progresses with them almost giving up entirely after a short time.

Gemma (Imogen Poots) leaned into some solving aspects, but it was late and could have had more depth to it. That aside, both of the leads give great performances here. They make you feel the despair and the sense of isolation this place provided. The extra component of their venture was also great, neat growth there. I thought the environments were neat, and only on the occasion did I feel they weren’t in an entirely isolated labyrinth space.

The Conclusion

Vivarium was interesting, and presented a really neat concept while not digging into that enough. It was intriguing, and had a very strong start to it. Pair that with two great leads giving excellent performances, and they could have taken this further. I still found it to be a solid viewing, just expected more out of it. I was also very unsure of the tone, it seemed more like a comical sci-fi type of thing and then dipped more into horror. I’m aiming to be vague in describing this one, if you’re heading to watch it’s best to come in fairly fresh.

I’ve mainly just touched on the starting elements that it works through quickly, with the vast chunk of it not being gone over here. I really liked how this took something like moving forward with relationships to more serious levels, and really branched out the horrific feelings one might be experiencing. Themes of property ownership, starting one’s family and the frustrations of being locked into something. Neat ideas, interesting concept and I mainly just hope for more.

Vivarium Poster
Vivarium Review at Theater with Standard Viewing during Calgary Film Festival
Screening Provided by Calgary Film

Rating Overall: 7.2

Gamerheadquarters Reviewer Jason Stettner