Recently released fantastic horror film “Vivarium” – a new work of a young Irish director and screenwriter Lorcan Finnegan. And its main advantage is that it contains at least the beginnings of meaning. If you have already watched the horror and did not understand what exactly was shown in the final or just lost the thread of the story, read the detailed description, analysis and explanation of the plot and ending.
What does the name Vivarium mean?
“Vivarium” is a special room or building in which animals are kept for laboratory experiments and experiments. Thus, we are told from the doorway that the same house number 9 in the well-maintained Yonder district, in which the main characters, Gemma and Tom, are forced to live, is a cage. And the young people themselves are no more than guinea pigs for the creators of the mysterious place.
As a result, the title of the film hints that an inhuman experiment awaits us ahead. However, other signs point to the artificial nature of the environment in which the main characters ended up. There is no wind in the Yonder region, no normal clouds of various shapes, and any sound is reflected as if events are taking place in a huge pavilion. There is no doubt that Gemma and Tom are locked in a giant laboratory.
What happens in the movie “Vivarium” really?
Lucky lovers – Gemma and Tom – who are looking for a new home, become captives and unwitting participants in a mysterious experiment when they agree to see the ideal house number nine in the equally ideal suburban area of Yonder (it seems that the name is a distorted Wonder, wonderful or amazing).
Where is Yonder located? Certainly unknown. But the realtor says only that it is ideally located – not too far from the city, but not too close. In fact, Tom and Gemma find themselves in an unknown place, cut off from civilization, and from which it is impossible to get out.
Attempts to leave the cursed place turn out to be the fact that Gemma and Tom run out of gas in the car. Cell phones do not pick up a signal in Yonder, planes do not fly over the area, and there seem to be no neighbors at all. The main characters are the only people trapped.
Then unknown people throw a child to the couple – in a box, like some kind of thing. The accompanying note states that they will be free as soon as they raise the baby. The child grows too fast – “like a dog”, and spoils the life of foster parents with all his might.
In fact, it is not clear why a monster grew out of a mysterious child: because Gemma and Tom could not or did not want to raise him as a good person, or because he was originally not a man, but a monster. But the meaning of the “Vivarium” is that Gemma and Tom are guinea pigs in a mysterious experiment organized by unknown creatures. Perhaps aliens.
The fact that the child of Gemma and Tom is not a person becomes clear when he shows his true habits – inflates strange bags around his neck and begins to move unnaturally, like a natural monster.
Mad with idleness, Tom starts digging a hole in the yard when he finds out that the place in which he and his girlfriend are stuck is artificial. And closer to the finale, completely exhausted and mortally ill, Tom gets to the bottom of the terrible truth.
Gemma, meanwhile, is trying to mend her relationship with a mysterious – “alien” – boy. And at first things are going well. But later it turns out that he really is a monster who is constantly watching the “guinea pigs”. And he always achieves his heart-rending cry.
What is shown at the end of “Vivarium”?
At the end of the Vivarium, the following happens: Tom dies of illness and exhaustion, and an adult child packs his body in a sealed body bag and dumps him into a deep pit. The same hole in the ground that Tom had dug.
Before that, Tom found the bodies of dead people in it – in the exact same body bags. Obviously, Tom is not the first and not the last dead person buried underground in the strange district of Yonder, practically at the doorstep of number nine.
Gemma, distraught with grief, then ambushed the adult “adopted son” and hit him on the head with a pickaxe. The grown creature shows its true face, literally pushes the fabric of reality and runs away from the foster “mother” on all fours. Gemma jumps into the hole under the curb next – and finds herself in multi-colored realities.
There are several possible explanations below.
Unknown beings who have set up an experiment on raising monster children exist in a multidimensional space. And everything shown happens at the same time: many prisoners of a strange place are trying to raise children, but as a result, everyone dies. The second option: Gemma sees the past – what happened to her brothers and sisters in misfortune before.
In any case, the director and screenwriter of the film, Lorcan Finnegan, says that the experiment has been going on for a very long time and does not think of ending. It seems that we are witnessing an eternal cycle of capturing new experimental people and raising monster children.
The ending is next. The grown-up “son” packs Gemma in a body bag and says that the mother always dies. Then he fills up the car of “foster parents” and arrives at the same agency. “Boy” replaces the aged realtor, who is also packed in a sealed bag and pushed into a strange closet.
Now the grown up monster or alien himself becomes a realtor with Martin’s badge. The point is that now the new Martin will start looking for new victims – experimental rats – to continue the experiment.
The system creates the system
The behavior of the “cuckoo” immediately suggests that he is much smarter than he seems. For example, he quite consciously uses the cry as a manipulation tool.
A child spends all day watching TV, which shows programs that create a basic model of behavior in his head.
So the system creates a new system. The terrible modifications that occur further with the child are the screenwriter’s desire to show how a child looks in the eyes of the parents, which does not correspond to their understanding of “habituation” and “normality”, is brought up by the system. This is how the religious parents of a child who openly adhered to atheism would perceive.
“Vivarium” hidden meaning
While I was working on the script, I came across a lot of ideas of what the movie could be metaphorically about. These are ideas of the meaninglessness of our lives, a metaphor for the gnostic trap of the world, a metaphor for the tastelessness of family life or a house on credit, a metaphor for the futility of striving for an ideal, and so on. But all these metaphors, in my opinion, serve as separate puzzles, which still do not explain and do not cover the whole meaning. And sometimes they even lead away from the main idea. Before we go directly to the analysis, I want to comment on some of these metaphors, which will help to better convey my main idea.
Striving for the ideal
The metaphor of striving for the ideal would fit here if Tom and Gemma were looking for the perfect home for a long and painful time, and they were not sure what they wanted. After all, having seen this ideal area in every sense, they have already determined that this is not quite what they need.
House loan metaphor
The metaphor of a house on credit is somewhat similar to the pursuit of an ideal, both of which show that we cannot afford it. The metaphor of an infinity mortgage that sucks all the juices would be appropriate if we saw a personal choice, a decision, if we saw how they sign on a paper about buying a house on credit or even buying a house in the area.
Loss of taste of life due to the appearance of a child
The skipping of the stage of planning, bearing and feeding, which form attachment and love, the unnatural development of the child, his emotional alienation, the lack of liveliness and inquisitiveness inherent in a human child, which naturally evoke tenderness, affection, love and tenderness in parents, cast doubt on such a metaphor. It turns out that everything that brings the joy of this parenthood was removed from parenthood and only the dry residue of behaviorism was left, namely, repeat after me, develop skills.
Metaphor of parent-child relationship
Another metaphor about the essence of the relationship between children and parents, namely the process of education, when a child copies the behavior of elders, becomes similar in character to them.
Yes, that is right. But this is not parroting, the child passes this through himself and builds it into his behavior, that is, the alien foundling in this regard should have been imbued with anger, fear, a sense of hopelessness and meaninglessness, and not simply copying the words and gestures of educators. In addition, his copying of words and gestures did not at all make him look like foster parents, nothing.
A metaphor for the meaninglessness of life, the world is like a prison
The couple is given the task of raising the child and then they will be free. Here freedom is represented not by real freedom, but by liberation by death. This is the idea that in the end there is no way out, or the only way out is death. But everything would be fine if we did not see another world that exists outside the vivarium, or rather, the world in which this vivarium was built, where Tom is a gardener, and Gemma is a teacher. And they have many choices and many exits. So this metaphor doesn’t seem to work either. In the vivarium, their professions and vocations have turned into a kind of grotesque, where Tom just digs senselessly, and Gemma just teaches unemotionally.
Here we see how a person is deprived of the freedom of choice in all senses, leaving only the opportunity to choose actions in a limited space. This is a clear formation of learned helplessness, like the dogs from the Martin Seligman experiment, and the deprivation of freedom of choice and hope leads to the meaninglessness of existence.
All these metaphors seem to be separate puzzles that do not show the whole picture at all, even with their masterful addition.
But what is the horror “Vivarium” really about?
The fact is that the director and screenwriter Lorcan Finnegan took down the manifesto. In “Vivarium”, he speaks on the topic of parenthood, hiding behind metaphors and hyperbole. You can understand the film in different ways, but it is obvious that being a father or mother is hard daily work.
Lorcan Finnegan brings this idea to the point of absurdity: parenthood is constant discomfort, the need to make sacrifices for the sake of children, a complete disregard for one’s own needs and desires. And as a result of all the efforts, a terrible and arrogant monster will still grow up, taking all the efforts of the parents for granted and for granted.
In general, if you dig a little, the author of “Vivarium” criticizes the idea of parental self-sacrifice and argues about the value of parenthood in principle. Although it is possible that “Vivarium” is an ordinary gloomy postmodern joke, created solely to annoy viewers and critics with opposing views.