IT’S FAIR to say Stephen King is something of an authority when it comes horror.
He quite literally wrote the book on it. Several, in fact.
So, when the genius mind behind The Shining singles a horror film out for praise, it's worth taking note.
Especially if it happens to be an Irish horror film.
Originally intended for a cinematic release, Vivarium is available via video-on-demand services like YouTube now and comes highly recommended.
A dark sci-fi tale and psychological thriller, it stars Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots as a young couple looking to purchase their first home.
One of the most unique sci-fi tales of recent times, it’s a disturbingly dark film, which boasts plenty of surprise twists and turns.
Rather than give too much away, it’s probably better to offer up the film’s official synopsis, which reads:
"Tom and Gemma (Eisenberg and Poots) are looking for the perfect home. When a strange real-estate agent takes them to Yonder, a mysterious suburban neighborhood of identical houses, Tom and Gemma can't leave quick enough.
"But when they try to exit the labyrinth-like housing development, each road takes them back to where they started. Soon, they realize their search for a dream home has plunged them into a terrifying nightmare."
While on the face of it, there’s not much Irish about Vivarium, it’s behind the camera where the film’s roots back to the Emerald Isle can be found.
Vivarium is directed by Lorcan Finnegan, from a story by Finnegan and his Irish writing partner Garret Shanley.
While the film was released to positive reviews and currently boasts a 72% score on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, it’s King’s endorsement that is most notable
The prolific writer took to Twitter to heap praise on the movie, describing how much it impressed him.
“VIVARIUM (Hulu) blew me away. Rich and strange. If you love it, thank me. If you hate it, don't blame me,” he wrote.
VIVARIUM (Hulu) blew me away. Rich and strange. If you love it, thank me. If you hate it, don't blame me.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) August 1, 2020
Given the rave reviews posted online elsewhere, it would seem plenty agree with his sentiment.
King isn’t the only literary talent to be singling out Vivarium for comment either with Joyce Carol Oates, author of more than 70 works of fiction, nonfiction and poetry, speaking in similarly glowing terms.
She wrote on Twitter: "Vivarium" is a cool, cartoon-like, conceptualist dystopian film that, as it develops, becomes more 'realistic'--in its depiction of individuals trapped in a monotonous, surreal, mock-suburban vivarium replica of a "home."
"Vivarium" is a cool, cartoon-like, conceptualist dystopian film that, as it develops, becomes more "realistic"--in its depiction of individuals trapped in a monotonous, surreal, mock-suburban vivarium replica of a "home."
— Joyce Carol Oates (@JoyceCarolOates) August 3, 2020
The Emerald Isle has become something of a hotbed for first-rate scares in recent times.
Filmmaker Lee Cronin was the first to crank up the scares with The Hole In The Ground, a devilishly brilliant Irish screamfest that’s available to watch on Netflix now.
North of the border, Andy and Ryan Tohill from Belfast have been recruited to helm a “reboot” of Tobe Hooper’s 1974 horror classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.