'Vivarium' Review With Casey
When a young loving couple visit a pristine suburb looking for a new home, they become trapped in a mysterious world of quiet isolation turning their casual visit at a possible starter home into an endless nightmare. The title is a real word meaning a living space where plants or animals are kept under observation (hint hint), and just like this fancy word, this film is not for everyone.
Vivarium is an abstract, dark, reflective exploration paring down ordinary parts of human life from daily rituals to child-rearing to the passage of time. Being highly experimental, and loaded with symbolism and drawn-out pauses, it felt inspired by other cerebral films like Solaris (1972) or, more recently, A Ghost Story (2017). But without much human emotion in the screenplay, beyond continual despair, Vivarium felt much longer than it actually was. Now I love originality in film. I love when films step outside expected norms (the 2018 film High Life is a great example). I just wish Vivarium was more entertaining in doing those things.
The film has lots of interesting ideas. A bit of science-fiction, a bit of off-beat comedy, and a bit of survivalist drama. It's just a shame they couldn't come together more successfully. Vivarium was officially released in March of 2020 and is now available through personal streaming on Amazon Prime.