- Nate Adams
'Infinity Pool' review: Brandon Cronenberg eats the rich in his deranged new feature film
Courtesy of Neon
Continuing to prove the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, writer-director Brandon Cronenberg, son to body horror maestro David Cronenberg, has made another perverse, hypnotic, and deranged feature film that takes big swings and delivers even messier executions. Enter “Infinity Pool,” an impressive notch on the director's filmography after his previous no guts, no glory chiller “Possessor.” It confirms Cronenberg’s films, much like his fathers, are must-see events and that he’s a fascinating/evolving filmmaker whose choices, while not for the faint of heart, are audacious. As the saying goes, if you can’t handle the heat, get out of the kitchen.
While “Infinity Pool” isn’t a masterpiece, there’s still plenty to admire. From the hyper-psychedelic (and violent) imagery to an unhinged Mia Goth performance, “Infinity Pool” walks a fine line between unholy depravity and artistic merit. For those who saw “Possessor” and know what to expect, the screenplay for “Infinity Pool” is deeply rooted in body horror while also satirically pointing the camera at the wealthy’s ability to absolve themselves of literally any crime. The irony being: they must kill themselves in order to get there.
“Infinity Pool” opens at what feels like an offshoot of “The White Lotus,” as we meet author James Foster (Alexander Skarsgard) and his partner Em (Cleopatra Coleman) who are staying at a private resort in a fictional country trying to find some inspiration for a new book. On their quests, they meet a gorgeous young couple, Gabi (Goth, continuing her insane run of terrific movies), and her husband Alban (Jalil Lespert) who convinces them to illegally go off resort grounds for day drinking and a picnic. On the way back, James accidentally runs over a local farmer, sending everyone into a frenzy and instead of calling the police, the quartet return to their rooms in fear of getting locked up and murdered by officials.
The next day, the four travelers are taken into custody and its unveiled (via a crispy monologue by Thomas Kretschmann) that murder in their country isn't upheld in a court of law, but by the victim’s son, however, the country also has a unique contingency plan: an intensive cloning process for those who can afford it where they’ll create another James to be executed while the other watches from the bleachers like a sadistic football game.
Are you still with me?
It’s a juicy concept and an excellent commentary on how the extremely wealthy can buy themselves out of anything, while also asking audiences what it could feel like to see themselves being murdered. This leads to a montage of absolute insanity, and follows this group of rich people engaging in various acts of lewd behavior, violence, and murder without consequence. David indulges as Gabi brings him into her world of sado masochism until the lines between reality and fiction are blurred.
“Infinity Pool” experiments with unruly concepts and Cronenberg pulls physically demanding performances from his cast. Especially Skarsgard and Goth who go-for-broke and never dial it back. They understand the script's wild demands and Cronenberg doesn’t step off the gas nor does he hold audiences' hands as they travel down a bonkers rabbit hole either. He’s got a unique cinematic voice removed from his dad: whether it’s the subversion of expectations, an eagerness to play with the concept of human mortality or challenging audiences' endurance, he’s someone we shouldn’t take for granted.
Go ahead and take a dip. The water's fine.
INFINITY POOL opens in theaters Friday, January 27th.