VIVARIUM – Review by Susan Granger

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Watch carefully as the introductory scene with the cuckoo birds shows how they trick other birds into raising their young. It’s a metaphor that foreshadows what’s about to unfold.

Thirtysomething landscaper Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) and his schoolteacher girlfriend Gemma (Imogen Poots) are thinking about taking the next step in their lives by buying a home in suburbia. So they talk with a creepy real estate agent (Jonathan Aris).

Intrigued by a newly planned community called Yonder – boasting the ominous slogan: “You’re home. Forever.” – they decide to view one of the identical, prefabricated properties, which are arranged in looping, labyrinthine subdivisions, only to discover there’s no way out!

Without phone or internet, they’re obviously trapped in this eerie maze. So when groceries and medical supplies arrive, they settle into fully furnished starter home #9, trying to make the best of a sinister situation.

Then a parcel containing a baby boy appears with a note, informing them that – if they’ll raise this child – they’ll be released. The rapidly growing boy (Senan Jennings) is human in form but alien in his ghoulish ability to mimic his adoptive parents.

Working from a screenplay by Garret Shanley, Irish director Lorcan Finnegan fashions a cautionary, contemporary horror story, reminiscent of one of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone episodes, only not as well written, particularly in the second act.

The title Vivarium is defined as “an enclosure, container or structure adapted or prepared for keeping animals under semi-natural conditions for observation or study or as pets.”

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, Vivarium is a cynical, surreal, suspenseful 6. Available to rent or buy on iTunes, Google Play, Vudu and other streaming platforms.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.