This article about the film Vivarium was originally published on February 20, 2020 and updated on July 13, 2021 following the movie's release. Read on for the original article, with some new changes to reflect the latest updates on this topic.
Sometimes all a movie needs are two people in a room. Or, in Vivarium's case, two people in a seemingly infinite suburban neighborhood with a baby in a box on their doorstep. It also doesn't hurt that those two people are Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots (his recent partner in crime in the well-received indie hit The Art of Self Defense).
This Irish sci-fi horror hybrid earned high praise at Cannes before releasing worldwide in 2020. Here's everything you need to know about Vivarium.
When was the Vivarium release date?
Vivarium premiered at Cannes Film Festival last year on May 18, 2019, and was announced all the way back in May 2018. It was released in the United States, U.K., and Ireland on March 27, 2020, getting both a limited theatrical run and an on-demand release.
Who's in the cast of Vivarium?
Vivarium stars Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots as young aspiring homeowner couple Tom and Gemma. Other minor roles are played by Danielle Ryan and Sherlock's Jonathan Aris. Curiously, Eisenberg and Poots co-starred in another movie together, the dark indie comedy The Art of Self-Defense (2019).
Eisenberg is best known for his Oscar-nominated star turn as Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network. He also played Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman. Poots has horror chops from her work in the 2015 film Green Room.
What's the plot of Vivarium?
Vivarium follows Tom and Gemma as they visit a subdivision called Yonder, looking for a house to buy. They're taken to the labyrinthian community by a mysterious real estate agent named Martin, who promptly disappears, stranding Tom and Gemma. They drive around looking for an exit but keep finding themselves exactly where they began: House #9. After their car runs out of gas, they decide to stay in the house and find a box of food on the doorstep.
Tom and Gemma later find a baby on their doorstep. They raise him as their own, but soon it's obvious this isn't an ordinary child, and their attempts to escape lead to disturbing realizations. There's a detailed plot summary on the film's Wikipedia page for those looking for a play-by-play of the film — but beware, it contains major spoilers.
Is there a trailer for Vivarium?
Yes! You can watch the mind-bending trailer here.
What did critics have to say about Vivarium?
Vivarium has a 72% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a score of 64 on Metacritic. Critics drew parallels to everything from Charlie Kaufman and Black Mirror to the "Mac and Dennis Move to the Suburbs" episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Variety gave it a mixed review, calling the film "a starkly minimalist sci-fi parable of dehumanization. But the movie leaves audiences every bit as numb as the characters are supposed to be."
While some may enjoy the ennui of the film or interpret it as director Lorcan Finnegan's choice of tone, the mood of the movie seems to match its material, for better or for worse.
Vivarium was released in theaters and digitally on March 27, 2020.
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