Sunday, April 12, 2020

Candidate #5

(May 2019)

Who did that to the poor baby birds?”
“I don’t know. Maybe it was a cuckoo?”
“Because it needed a nest.”
“Why doesn’t it just make its own nest?”
“Because that’s nature. That’s just the way things are.”
“I don’t like the way things are. They’re terrible.”
“Well… it’s only horrible sometimes."

This conversation takes place very early on in Lorcan Finnegan’s sophomore feature, Vivarium.
And as the unsettling opening sequence shows us, it was indeed a ruthless cuckoo--only being true to its nature--that “… did that to the poor baby birds”…
That disturbing opening and the subsequent conversation sets up the film’s scenario, in which Gemma Pierce and her boyfriend Tom (Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg) are drawn by the “strange and persuasive motherf*cker,” Martin (Jonathan Aris) to visit Yonder, a new housing development “just the right distance” away…
And, well… this will not turn out to be their dream home…

You’re home right now.
Quality family homes.
--Yonder’s Welcome Sign

Yonder, with its identical model homes and patently fake skies is suburbia as “ideal” (yet terribly bland), inescapable Hell.
It’s the horrifying picture of being trapped in the maddening routine of existence, with only the slimmest of hopes as a possible reprieve from the domestic tyranny of the mortgage, the drip feed, and the hamster wheel.

While you could look at Vivarium as a feature-length Twilight Zone episode that plays far better than any of the ten Season 1 episodes from the recent CBS All Access revival, you could also consider it as a science fiction-tinged expansion of some of Eraserhead’s thematic preoccupations, taking those particular concerns to their disquieting, inevitable conclusions.

“What a lovely sky we have. It is lovely to live under a lovely sky and a lovely house with lovely houses all around us.”

Parting Shot: The writer’s credit for Vivarium goes to Garret Shanley, from a story by Shanley and Finnegan.
The pair also collaborated on Finnegan’s debut feature, Without Name.
That film though, did not grab me in quite the same way Vivarium did…
I am now definitely looking forward to whatever these two get up to next…

(Vivarium OS’ courtesy of &

No comments: