Now streaming: Vivarium (M)


Luke McWilliams gives his review of the thriller film, Vivarium, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Jesse Poots which is streaming now.

After seeing the habits of a cuckoo, young teacher Gemma (Imogen Poots) meets up with her gardener partner Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) to visit a real estate agent in a search for their starter home. Once there, a strange estate agent named Martin (Jonathan Aris) convinces the couple to follow him to a new suburban development called Yonder, to show them home number 9.

Suburban horror movies serve as a metaphor for the anxiety and existential dread that conformity and the mundanity of everyday life can bring. The Stepford Wives showed the peer pressures of keeping up with the Joneses, A Nightmare on Elm Street poked through the shallow veneer of the picket-fenced neighbourhood ideal, then Rear Window and The Burbs ripped it down by revealing what the neighbours, and by extension, what anyone, may have bubbling beneath the surface.

Trapped in a never-ending maze of perfect, cookie-cutter replica houses, Gemma and Tom are also trapped in their daily routine and responsibilities; rising with the sun, eating pre-packaged tasteless food and raising a strange child who coldly mimics them as a form of growth.  Any greater goal the couple may have is a source of hope, which may, in itself, also be a source of horror.

Verdict: A grim, nihilistic but intriguing mystery which is all too easy to figure out quite early in the piece due to some blunt foreshadowing. Vivarium may have fared better as a vignette ala The Twilight Zone. 3.5 stars.

Vivarium is available now on VOD at and will be streaming on Google Play, iTunes, Telstra, Fetch and Foxtel on Demand from 6 May.

More film & TV reviews: