Current Issue #488

Film Review:

This pseudo-sci-fi drama from Lorcan Finnegan is impressive-looking and well-played on a low budget, but the thing is so confounding that fans of freakier fantasy could well be left cold. 

Producer/director Finnegan expanded this one from his 2012 short film Foxes, and it probably would have worked somewhat better as a TwilightZone-calibre half-hour tale, although stars Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg are strong and we do feel for them, no matter how baffling their predicament might be.

After an opening sequence that ominously details the parasitic nature of cuckoos we meet teacher Gemma (Imogen), who wants to buy a house with her partner Tom (Jesse, an American in Ireland – or is it?). There are some sweet and funny character riffs before they stray into the office of deeply peculiar real estate agent Martin (Jonathan Aris), who’s so odd you can’t imagine anyone would dare follow him anywhere.

Nevertheless, Gemma and Tom drive out to look at an isolated new development named Yonder with Martin, and while they’re in the process of deciding that they don’t like the strange nature of the place Martin, of course, disappears, and they find that they can’t leave. The rest of the alternately eerie and irksome action shows what the pair do in Yonder, with their initial attempts at escape leading nowhere and, later, how they inevitably crack up.

They’re also not alone after a while, with Senan Jennings (credited as ‘Young Boy’) turning up to deliver one of the creepiest child performances in years. How did Finnegan direct this kid and convince him to deliver screenwriter Garret Shanley’s lines with such alien malevolence?

An unusual Irish-Danish-American-Belgian co-production, Finnegan’s film keeps you watching, if sometimes irritated, to see what happens, and it’s worth pointing out that the plot (and indeed that off-putting title) suggest what’s really going on here, with everything leading to a pretty unsatisfying climax – or, ahem, should that be punchline?

And it must be said: much as we love the guy, David Lynch has an awful lot to answer for.

Reviewer Rating

Vivarium (M) is now available on video on demand

DM Bradley

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