I have a list, you know. It grows frequently and changes with my moods. It’s a list of movies I want to watch. While I never trained as a movie critic, there comes a time when you’ve watched enough, and written about them, that you can’t help but feel you have something valuable, perhaps, to say. Movies are modern mythology. At least if they’re done right. Being a critic of limited means, I often paw through Amazon Prime’s list of freebies for subscribers. Seldom is anything on my list there, so I try to find interesting offerings for free. Sometimes they’re lousy (but at least free) and other times they’re provocative and perhaps profound. Vivarium is a European film that slots somewhere between horror and sci-fi. It’s like The Truman Show meets Village of the Damned while at a party thrown by the Stepford home owner’s association. It’s one of the profound ones.
Tom and Gemma, a young couple, agree to see a house that an odd realtor insists they look at. In a planned community of identical houses, the couple find themselves abandoned and unable to escape. The house can’t be destroyed and food mysteriously appears. Then a baby is delivered to be raised by the couple. The child grows quickly, aging about 10 years in 100 days. Tom decides to try to dig out while Gemma tries to care for the strange boy. He mimics them and screams if he wants something. Tom digs until he sickens. He finds a body at the bottom of the hole and shortly thereafter dies at Gemma’s side. The boy, now in his twenties, puts Tom in the hole he dug. When Gemma attacks him he crawls under the pavement and she follows, only to discover other houses with other trapped parents. She dies and the boy throws her into the hole and buries her with Tom. He then replaces the realtor, waiting for other couples to come looking for a house.
The film is full of both existentialism and social commentary. The boy tells Gemma as she’s dying that mothers raise their children then die. We learn about two thirds of the way through that the boy is not human. What he is is never explained. This is the kind of film I would’ve found mind-blowing in high school. It’s still very intriguing and will require some thought. It’s well made, with high production values, unlike much of what I find scrolling through Amazon Prime. It’s a film worth talking about. And profound.