31 Days of Horror: Vivarium (2019) – REVIEW

Well… I think it’s finally happened. 18 days into 31 Days of Horror and we have come across the first film that has well and truly thrown me – Vivarium. What on earth was that all about? Never have I been so clueless about what’s going on, yet so transfixed by it at the same time. I’ve genuinely never seen anything like it, and honestly don’t know if I’d dive back in in a hurry. It properly messed with my head, but in a way that I couldn’t stop watching.

The film follows a young couple on the hunt for their ideal home. However, when they go to view a property, they end up trapped inside a labyrinth filled with identical houses with absolutely no way out.


Vivarium blew my tiny mind

I had no idea what to expect from this film going into it. It’s one of those where the synopsis gives nothing away about what’s to come, which works massively in its favour. It’s impossible to not try to figure out what could be going on, or where the film is headed. The amount of obscurity surrounding the entire plot makes it very intriguing and impossible to tear yourself away from.

What adds to this dynamic between Vivarium and viewers is the fact that are some deeply unnerving occurrences that take place throughout the film. There are many things that can only be described as bizarre; an estate agent at the beginning who wouldn’t have been out of place in something like Jam, or a ‘child’ that was clearly just an adult trapped inside a compact package. There were a lot of elements that were technically correct, but they clearly lacked humanity or a sense of reality, and the disconnect between these and the very human characters at the centre of the film was astonishing. It really worked in getting under the skin because it was quite uncomfortable to watch these interactions, and only grew to be more so over time.


The whole film is a cleithrophobic nightmare

In every direction Vivarium turns there is yet another avenue from with there is no escape. You’re either trapped in suburbia and the cookie-cutter life of the main characters, or trapped in the curiosity gap that exists because you have literally no clue what is going on. It’s reaches beyond the film itself thanks to how little it gives away, and is a truly horrible place to be held for so long.

What was especially disturbing, however, is that watching Vivarium is like opening a music box and peering inside. The score relies heavily on an out-of-tune twinkly piano which adds another layer to the idea that everything here should be normal. It gives a real sense that everything you see is taking place in what is a very unstable environment, no matter how controlled it is supposed to be.


If you’re into weird, look no further

Vivarium is, without a doubt, the most bizarre film I’ve seen in ages. I had little idea what was going on, and whilst I have my theories, it really bothers me that absolutely nothing is confirmed. I just can’t stop wondering about different aspects of the film. It managed to make an impact, even if that impact resulted in a sizeable dent in my brain. I’d be interested to hear what other people thought of this to be perfectly honest. It’s one of those where I think everyone who sees it will pick up on something different. When it comes down to the big question of whether I’d watch it again, however, the answer is probably no. It was an experience that required a lot from me mentally, and whilst I’d never say never, I certainly wouldn’t rush into a rewatch any time soon.

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