Vivarium is a 2019 fantasy thriller directed by Lorcan Finnegan. The film’s plot revolves around a couple looking to buy their dream home, going to the suburbs to be screened, but soon discovers that they cannot leave the area shown to them by a mysterious real estate agent.
The film caused a lot of controversy, and for the most part remained incomprehensible, because behind the measured and devoid of any dynamism, a sufficiently deep and truthful message is hidden, which can be interpreted in several directions at once.
Below we will tell you about the hidden meaning of the film, try to explain its ending and the meaning of the title. Go.
The plot of the film “Vivarium”
Young couple Gemma and Tom want to buy a house. They arrive at the real estate office, where they meet Martin – a strange agent who tells them about a new profitable project – a house in a cozy suburb that is not too far away and not too close, with good neighbors and at a good price.
The couple agrees to the viewing and drives out with Martin to the development, where rows of identical empty houses stand. Martin shows them house number 9 and disappears. Gemma and Tom try to get out of there, but get lost; each route takes them back to the same house number 9. In the end, their car runs out of gas and they decide to stay there overnight.
What can the cuckoo footage at the beginning of the film tell us about?
The film begins with a demonstration of the behavior of a cuckoo. The way she sneaks into someone else’s nest, throws out one of the eggs and lays her own in its place. When a cuckoo chick is born, the first thing he does, copying his mother’s behavior, throws other eggs and young chicks out of the nest. In the end, a cuckoo chick that feeds on a fraction of a full nest grows larger than the bird feeding it and flies away, leaving the foster mother with a void in the nest and, most likely, in the heart.
The cuckoo is the key to understanding the plot of Vivarium. Apart from a fleeting demonstration of how the cuckoo destroys another bird’s family in the beginning, this is exactly what will happen to the protagonists throughout the rest of the film.
Gemma first tells her student that the cuckoo is part of nature, and that is the way things are. Perhaps she needed a nest for herself, explains the girl and adds that “it’s not always bad.” But soon she will have to realize how wrong she was.
Falling into the trap of a realtor, the couple is forced to raise an inhuman child as a human. When this is done, the intermediary parents are killed and the non-human goes out into the world to trap more people.
The title of the film is a direct reference to the “vivarium” – a room in which animals, mainly rats, are kept, intended for various scientific experiments on them. Or a container, often with a glass front, that contains small pets or experimental animals. Thus, house number 9, in which the main characters are forced to live, is not only their own ninth circle of hell, but also a cage. They are ordinary small rodents.
Who is a boy?
After several unsuccessful attempts to get out of Youndera, a box with a child appears on their doorstep. The note reads: “Grow up a child and be free.” But only at the end of the film do the characters realize that “freedom” literally meant “liberation from life” – death, to put it simply.
The “boy” rubbed off very quickly. Just like a dog or a cuckoo, imitating people and screaming when he needs food and attention. Shedding light on its nature is helped by a scene in which Gemma looks at illustrations of an alien book, fixing his gaze on the “neck bags” with which unknown kidnappers communicate. The book shows the principle of implementation, the sampling of material and the creation of a hybrid child, as well as the fact that a strong woman and a weak, oppressed man are required to raise him.
As director Lorcan Finnegan explained, throughout the film, we can observe three phases of Gemma and Tom’s life – youth, middle age, and old age. Although they do not age in years, their vitality is gradually leaving them. Youndera’s built environment kills heroes in the same way, but Tom suffers more. In search of a way out, he starts digging. Due to heavy everyday robots and tasteless food, his health gradually deteriorates and he dies.
Explanation of the meaning of the ending of “Vivarium”
The “boy” turns into a “man”. In the end, Gemma decides to kill him, but he literally pushes the boundaries of reality and hides from his distraught mother. She follows him, and we realize that the Younder area is either an alien-projected fourth dimension, or Gemma travels in time. Descending lower and lower, the girl sees the same trapped people, but soon returns to her own prison and cries, knowing that she will not get out of here. Soon, the “man” puts it in a bag, and buries still alive along with Tom’s corpse.
How does it end? The end of the film hints that Tom and Gemma were used as foster parents to raise a child who belongs to a bird-like race of aliens who are experimenting on humans and / or want to infiltrate human society. After that, the parents will die. It’s sad, but in the context of this film, it’s a part of nature that is sometimes awful. Well, the created image of a house, a backyard and feigned coziness is just an illusion in which it is more or less convenient for representatives of the human species to be.
The final scene shows that the “man” who has mastered the intricacies of human behavior is ready and goes to the real estate store. The previous agent died and he folds it up like a newspaper. It becomes clear that their human form is just a cover. After the “man” takes his place. The cycle is complete. But with the emergence of a new pair, start again.
The meaning of the film “Vivarium”
Is Vivarium a manifesto of parental sacrifice, when relatively young people spend their lives raising children, and then, having grown old and lost their former ardor, live out their days alone? Perhaps.
Nonetheless, this is still a brutal metaphor for suburban life. In their attempts to get out of Younder, Gemma and Tom fall into stereotypical gender roles. She becomes a caring mother, he becomes a hard worker father who has no contact with his wife and child. Like the average young family, they “buy” a house, move away from reality and find themselves locked inside their cell. Soon, they have no choice but to wait. The “HELP” inscription at the beginning of the film is a kind of shout to society. But when they understand that there is nowhere to wait for help, the inscription changes to the eloquent “fuc u”.