Directed by: Brandon Cronenberg
Distributed by: Neon
Written by Alexander Reams
There is a certain expectation that is associated with the Cronenberg name, David made his name in body horror, and his son has followed in his footsteps. Following his electrifying 2020 surreal body horror film “Possessor,” Brandon Cronenberg has returned to the world of surreal and body horror, fully diving into the maximalist tendencies he showed in “Possessor” and taking the extremes even further, blurring the line between a film and a background rave video. “Infinity Pool” opens on a resort in the fictional country of Latoka and from the opening frame something is off, the lighting is very restrained and the entire environment feels fake. James Foster (Alexander Skarsgård), a fledgling author of one book that was released six years ago, and his wife Em Foster (Cleopatra Coleman, in a thankless role) are staying there to try and inspire James to write again.
While James goes out and explores the resort he eventually runs into Gabi (Mia Goth), a fan of James’ novel, during an intrusion from one of the natives of Latoka on the resort’s beach. That evening James, Em, and Gabi have dinner and are joined by Gabi’s husband Alban (Jalil Lespert), here is where Cronenberg sets the tone for the remainder of the film, the power dynamics of this dinner reveal his true intentions, a breakdown of masculinity and the male insecurity through the degrading and abuse of Skarsgård’s Foster. Eventually, the four run afoul of the local law enforcement and are faced with an option: die, or if you have the money pay to have yourself cloned and they will take your place in the execution. Thomas Kretschmann’s Detective Thresh explains this to Skarsgård in a menacing fashion, but there’s an undertone of excitement over making more money off these tourists who come to do as they please.
Cronenberg’s descent into insanity is sped up as Skarsgård sees his clone killed, he extends his stay, and becomes even more entranced with Gabi, and meets the rest of the group, Jennifer (Amanda Brugel), Bex (Caroline Boulton), Dr. Bob Modan (John Ralston), and Charles (Jeffery Ricketts). It moves quickly despite feeling slow, only once the film has ended does it all feel faster. His careful and manipulative direction often seems like a magic trick as he only wants you to see what’s in front of you, instead of thinking and looking deeper into the background of what’s going on around these privileged elites. This motif is also where Cronenberg stumbles, “Infinity Pool” is another “takedown of the rich” in its most literal interpretation, putting these characters as the vengeful killers of the other rich people around the island, but it’s not until the end when their own elitism and daftness to the rest of the world is truly revealed that makes the last hour even more horrifying.
The final hour of “Infinity Pool” is a cross between Cronenberg and the background videos you would see at raves. The pulsating, vibrant, assaulting sequences are hard to watch as the drugs take hold of James and turn him into the animal that the group is wanting him to be, but he’s not one of them and Cronenberg shows you this long before this ever comes up. Skarsgård and Goth are superb, the former bringing the animalistic tones he brought in “The Northman,” and Goth continuing to show her range for deranged characters after the excellent “Pearl.” “Infinity Pool” is a testament to their abilities as performers, Cronenberg has made another hypnotic, addicting, and frightening body horror opus that is infused with cutting social analysis and questions what masculinity means.
“Infinity Pool” Trailer