Movie Review: Imogen and Eisenberg, trapped in “Vivarium”

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Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg play a young couple trapped in a rabbit maze housing development, forced to raise a child dropped on their cookie-cutter house’s doorstep, in “Vivarium,” a quirky science experiment in drama form.

Like many a genre picture before it, there’s a sci-fi gimmick and little else to prop it up beyond repeating variations on “How do we escape this suburban hell?” ad infinitum.

Jemma and Tom are house shopping somewhere in Northern Ireland when they stumble into a home tour with no way out. The creepy/oily realtor (Jonathan Aris) may seem a trifle inhuman. But that’s not the dead give away you might think.

Describing the place as “near enough” from everything, “far enough” from everything else, as “ideal” and “forever” is just automaton real estate babble, right?

Ditching them at unit/house #9 in “Yonder,” the development they’ve driven into, leaving them only a welcome basket of champagne and strawberries after they spend hours trying to drive or parkour their way out? That’s not the worst of it.

A baby is dropped in their laps, packed in the sort of box Amazon might leave on your stoop. And the longer they have to “Raise the child and be released,” the more hellish their lot is.

The little creep (Senan Jennings) speaks in a disembodied  adult voice, impersonating what his “parents” say, shrieking when he’s ready for bed, hungry, etc.

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Poots gives us a lot of responses — fear, resignation, fury and hatred. Eisenberg’s Tom just hits a couple of notes — rage and madness. It would kill the love in any couple, much less one that hasn’t made that final leap to marriage.

And there’s another shriek. Let’s deal with this thing imposed on us because we dared to house shop.

The opening credits give away what the game will be. We see a cuckoo imposter hatch in a nest, and push other chicks out, forcing the hapless mama bird of another species to raise him instead.

Does that sound like a clever “Twilight Zone” episode? Sure. An entire 95 minute movie? Not so much.

2stars1

MPAA Rating: R for language and some sexuality/nudity.

Cast: Imogen Poots, Jesse Eisenberg, Senan Jennings, Eanna Hardwicke and Jonathan Aris

Credits: Directed by Lorcan Finnegan, script by Garret Shanley.  A Saban Films release.

Running time: 1:37

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