Depictions of the wealthy in fiction are something audiences have seen as of late, so sometimes it’s enjoyable to see how they are exploited into situations that can seal their fate or change them for the better. In the case of Brandon Cronenberg’s Infinity Pool, the film’s story sees this unfold through the eyes of Alexander Skarsgard’s character in his gradual descent into madness. The film may not be for everyone as it’s filled with violence and blood that can make some viewers a bit squeamish and may be hard to stomach. Much like his father auteur filmmaker David Cronenberg, Brandon attempts to build his vision of horror that has everyone go deep into the rabbit hole that is uncomfortable for the eyes but can transform into something quite beautiful.
The story follows struggling writer James (Alexander Skarsgard) and his wealthy wife Em (Cleopatra Coleman) who travel on vacation to the resort off the island of La Tolqa, hopeful to find some inspiration in his next book. They are spotted by commercial actress Gabi (Mia Goth), who invites them over for dinner off the resort with her husband Alban (Jalil Lespert). Their rendezvous on the beach ends abruptly after a car accident leaves a bystander dead on the road. The island has a strict law against involuntary manslaughter, but there is a bit of an upside for foreigners. For a price, tourists can have a replica of themselves take the fall and get executed in their place. Both Em and James agree with the procedure, watching the execution unfold in front of their eyes. Em is horrified at the result, but James sees this as a gateway drug that changes him forever.
Getting obsessed with this discovery, James begins to hang with Gabi and Alban on the island, who are a part of this group and have gone through the same process. As James joins in on their shenanigans and takes advantage of the island’s secret, the morals of right and wrong start to blur for him as he soon realizes he is crossing a line that he doesn’t want to cross, putting him at odds against Gabi and his newfound friends.
Both Alexander Skarsgard and Mia Goth are in perfect form here. Skarsgard showcases layers of his character as he transforms from an unhappy man into someone completely different that he doesn’t recognize himself. Goth’s character Gabi comes off as a seductive and deranged individual who toys with James and pushes his buttons to his limit. Goth continues to get engrossed in the horror genre and dominates it with her charm and manipulative looks. Seeing both of them on screen is a perfect match of indulgence and unhinged pleasure. We also have other supporting characters in the mix, but both Skarsgard and Goth are the biggest draws in this feature.
Similar to his father, Brandon Cronenberg shares a similar palette to David when it comes to body horror. It seems to run in the family as Infinity Pool shows some incredible shots and imagery but is a bit sensitive when it comes to content. However, the writing can be a bit light on the story once the second half of the film starts. Cronenberg’s script may need some polishing when it comes to characterization. It seems as if the film has only touched the surface of Goth’s character, so more time would be great to match the incredible visuals. The film also brings some commentary on privilege, tourism, and identity using shock value and cinematic flare that works to an extent. The movie goes deep into the darkest depths of the mind to expose who people are on the surface.
Infinity Pool is a glorified horror flick that tickles the senses if audiences can get behind the blood and gore that comes along with it. The film will stick with the audience long after the credits. It is provocative and visceral no matter how one will look at the screen. It may make some people uncomfortable to watch, but it is hard to look away. Not a lot of films are taking chances, but there are a few like Infinity Pool that tests an audience and makes bold choices. It is compelling to see what goes on in Cronenberg’s mind.
Infinity Pool releases in theaters on January 27th, 2023.