According to the Wikipedia, a vivarium (Latin, meaning “place of life”) is an area, usually enclosed, for keeping and raising animals or plants for observation or research. A vivarium may be small enough to sit on a desk or table, such as a terrarium or an aquarium, or may be a very large structure, possibly outdoors.

Vivarium (Click image to see a larger version)

The reason I mention this is that last night as I pen these words, I ran across a 2019 film called Vivarium on Netflix. You may have already heard about this or seen it, but it was new to me.

In the opening scene, we see a cuckoo chick pushing the “real” chicks out of the nest so it can trick the unsuspecting mother bird to give it all the food.

Next, we meet a young couple—a primary school teacher called Gemma and her handyman boyfriend called Tom. While looking for a first-time house, they meet a strange real estate agent called Martin who gets them to follow him in their car. They all end up in a weird, enormous, sprawling suburb populated by identical green houses. Above them is a strangely artificial-looking sky with “Homer Simpson” clouds.

After letting them into one of the houses, Martin disappears. Gemma and Tom try to leave the estate in their car, but whichever route they take, they end up back at their original house. And then things start to get weird.

I really don’t want to give anything away. I also think it would be best if you didn’t click on any of the links above. I know different people have different tastes, but I would rate this as a “must see” movie.

It’s not a fun movie. It’s a movie that will leave your poor old noggin buzzing with ideas. I can’t stop myself from thinking about different scenes thinking “suppose they did this” or “what if they’d said that,” before returning to the feeling of futility the characters must have felt.

This is one of the very few science fictions films that has left me feeling quite this way, two of the others being Dark City from 1998 and Snowpiercer from 2013. If you’ve already seen Vivarium, or if you watch it as a result of reading this blog, I’d love to hear what you think about it.