(Release Info London schedule; February 21st, 2020, Curzon Soho, London W1D 99 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 5DY, 6:45 pm)
Gemma (Imogen Poots), and Tom (Jesse Eisenberg), a young couple, are in search of the perfect starter home. When their mysterious local estate agent (Mark Quigley) informs them of a new housing development, somewhere between suburban 'Ireland' and 'The Twilight Zone, the enigmatically named 'Yonder', they ignore their initial reservations and decide to check it out. In a quiet neighborhood, he leads them to house number 9 and disappears. Soon, they realize that they're in an infinite space filled with identical houses, and that any attempt to escape will lead them right back to number 9. But this cautious couple should have listened to their instincts, quickly finding themselves unable to escape the seemingly endless maze of picture-perfect streets. As the weeks pass, they're forced to accept that they're trapped inside this manufactured utopia. Then, one day, a surprise package is about to arrive at their doorstep with a baby boy (Senan Jennings) inside. Invoking both the mind-bending weirdness of a classic
Tom discovers that the soil of 'Yonder' is made from a seemingly artificial substance. He starts to dig a hole. He becomes obsessed. Digging makes him feel as if he has a purpose, but the hole just gets deeper and deeper. Tom hears noises at the bottom of the hole. He digs further. Tom’s physical and mental health deteriorates further. Tom attempts to harm the boy, but Gemma intervenes. Gemma attempts to understand the couple’s predicament by engaging with the boy. She discovers that he's incapable of imagining things. Tom’s emotional distance pushes her closer to the boy. One day the boy vanishes, only to reappear with a strange text book. Gemma asks the boy who gave him the book. To show her, the boy takes on a disturbing physical form. Time has passed. Gemma and Tom have grown weaker. The boy (Eanna Hardwicke) has grown into an adult. Gemma and Tom reunite in their fear of him. The boy leaves the house every day and Gemma and Tom do not know where he goes. While digging, Tom finds a withered corpse in a body bag. Tom weakens to the point of death. Gemma begs the boy to help. The boy provides them with a body bag. Tom dies and is flung into the hole. A vengeful Gemma attempts to kill the boy. He escapes into a bizarre, subterranean corridor. Gemma follows and tumbles through parallel homes where other young couples live lives of similar despair. Gemma is spat back out into number nine. After a final act of verbal defiance, Gemma dies. The boy buries her in the hole with Tom and leaves 'Yonder'. He becomes an estate agent, replacing Martin (Jonathan Aris).
The idea of owning your own home has become like a faery tale. Insidious advertising promises ideal living, a fantasy version of reality that we strive towards. It's the bait that leads many into a trap. Once ensnared we work our whole lives to pay off debts. The social contract is a strange and invisible agreement that we flutter towards like moths to a flame. Natural areas are destroyed to make way for rows of identical houses, mazes for an atomised society to live out their days. We eat processed food wrapped in plastic. Media competes with parents to set strange new agendas in the minds of children. The dream of owning a home can soon turn into a nightmare. Consumerism is consuming us. "Vivarium" is fed on these ideas. It amplifies and the ordinary through a sci-fi lens. It's a surreal and twisted tale that's darkly humorous, sad, frightening and weirdly satisfying. "Vivarium" is a surrealistic, dark, but humorous film that lures us into a unique space and captivating experience. It's an eerie portrait of domestic life that poses questions of class and gender roles, even as it sucks the audience into it's hellish suburban maze. The nightmarish jaunt up the property ladder is as thrillingly provocative as it's wickedly enjoyable. Audiences get a kick out of it and it lingers in the mind.