Powered by the impeccable performances of Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg, ‘Vivarium’ is a movie that is quite relevant for the present times. It revolves around a couple who are looking for a new home but somehow end up in this monolithic suburbia from which they cannot escape. In the events that follow, their suburban dream becomes their biggest nightmare and their isolation turns into mental degradation.
The film’s traumatizing portrayal of helplessness and despair fails to fit itself into any particular genre. It has elements of sci-fi, even comedy at times, but mostly horror. Given that it’s somewhat of an eerie parable for de-humanization and is stylized with trippy visuals, it feels more inclined to the cosmic horror genre. So further down in this article, we’ve got a list of cosmic horror films that are very similar to ‘Vivarium’. Many of the movies mentioned below are available on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
5. Foxes (2012)
‘Foxes’, although a short film, is almost an exact replica of ‘Vivavium.’ It is confusing, captivating, and eventually leaves you with many unanswered questions. But more than anything else, it mirrors the current state of our society. Just like ‘Vivarium’, its entire narrative has two different layers. On the surface, it is simply about a couple, Ellen and James, who move into a seemingly dystopian suburban neighborhood. Soon, they are haunted by wolves who emerge at night from the woods that surround them.
With what follows, Ellen develops a weird obsession with these wolves. A deeper look at the movie’s premise, with a second viewing perhaps, makes you realize that it’s more of an allegory for the social contract that many of us conform to and the freedom we experience when we defy it.
4. The Endless (2017)
Benson and Moorhead may not be big names in the industry yet, but their indie low-budget movies have managed to acquire the “cult classic” title. Among the few movies that they have created, ‘The Endless’ has been widely appreciated by horror fans, especially the ones who are more into the cosmic horror subgenre. Seemingly inspired by Lovecraftian themes, ‘The Endless’ is a tale of two young men who had survived a death cult when they were kids.
But after an old videotape lures them back to the cult, they find themselves reliving the same horrors all over again. Just like ‘Vivarium‘, for the most part, ‘The Endless’ evokes a sense of ambiguity and allows you to make your own interpretation of its complex plot points. It also serves as a metaphor for the abusive cycles of life we’re often stuck in.
3. Pulse (2001)
The Japanese cinema has been way ahead of the curve when it comes to horror movies and that’s the reason why it comes as no surprise that even to this day, Hollywood keeps making remakes of Japanese horror classics. While the world is already familiar with ‘The Ring‘ and ‘The Grudge‘, ‘Pulse’ is another lesser-known J-horror film that re-defines the entire meaning of the term “haunting.”
It reeks a kind of existential dread that slowly seeps under your skin and then stays in there for a while. Its premise is pretty linear and revolves around groups of people who discover that the undead may be entering the human realm through the internet. But it is layered with several darker themes that fascinate and terrify at the same time.
2. This is the End (2013)
Unlike most other films on this list, ‘This is the End’ is more inclined towards the comedy genre and packs little to no scares. But its entire post-apocalyptic setup seems to have a lot in common with ‘Vivarium.’ Just like Gemma and Tom from ‘Vivarium,’ the characters of ‘This is the End’ are stuck in the confinements of their home and are brushing up against something that is completely beyond their comprehension. With a star-studded cast that includes James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, and many other renowned actors, ‘This is the End’ is a lowball comedy that packs a whole lot of fun.
1. In the Mouth of Madness (1994)
If there’s any film that perfectly encapsulates cosmic horror, or should I say Lovecraftian horror, it’s this one. Directed by John Carpenter, ‘In the Mouth of Madness’ revolves around an insurance investigator, John Trent, who is sent to investigate horror writer Sutter Cane’s disappearance. But he soon finds himself in a malevolent town that is straight out of Sutter Cane’s vivid and disturbing imagination. ‘In the Mouth of Madness’ creates an immersive experience through its depiction of cosmic paranoia that reminds you of Lovecraft’s creeping terror and Kafka’s social satire.
Read More: Vivarium Ending, Explained