In the case of Brandon Cronenberg’s career as a filmmaker, I’m hesitant to compare his work to that of his father, David Cronenberg. In calling INFINITY POOL “Cronenbergian,” my intention is not to compare him to his father but instead use the term as a sort of sub-genre within horror cinema. It’s undeniable that the use of body horror mixed with holding up a mirror to the flaws and sins of the human condition is patently at the core of Cronenberg Sr.’s work, and the influence is beautifully portrayed in his son Brandon’s latest film.
In INFINITY POOL, couple Em (Cleopatra Coleman, IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON) and James (Alexander Skarsgård, THE NORTHMAN) arrive at a resort on the fictional island of La Tolqa seeking artistic inspiration (ironic, isn’t it?) and find themselves entangled in narcissistic malice at the hands of exotic couple Gabbi (Mia Goth, X, PEARL) and Alban (Jalil Lespert, YVES SAINT LAURENT).
Cronenberg (POSESSOR), who both wrote and directed the film, comes off as deliberate and careful, which is a real accomplishment considering how bizarre and mind-bending some of the film’s more psychedelic moments are. He knows what he wants to say with this film, and without spelling it out plainly, delivers his point without leaving most audience members scratching their heads. (For the most part.) The movie doesn’t rely solely on its already infamous, unsettling imagery—it has something to say. And boy, does it say it.
Skarsgård and Goth are perfect. Individually they are giving some incredible performances, but together they are magnetic. Skarsgård plays vulnerable and weak just as well as he plays big and scary. Goth’s performance is slightly more restrained than her recent Oscar-snubbed performance in PEARL (I’m not over it. Sorry, not sorry), save for a scene on the hood of a car that will go down in history as one of the best drunk performances of all time. At times she reminds me of a deranged Hailey Mills; at others, a sort of Sharon Stone a la BASIC INSTINCT.
Without being too gauche, INFINITY POOL is like a season of THE WHITE LOTUS if the showrunner happened to be David Lynch. Systemic wealth and privilege abound both literally and metaphorically throughout the borderline-masterpiece, leaving the viewer feeling as yucky as most of the movie’s imagery. (Seriously… there’s a lot of unsettling “dripping” motifs throughout.)
The film was originally given an X rating before being re-edited in an appeal, and frankly, I’d love to see that version. As strange and unsettling as this movie is, I do wish it had gone just a hair further. It isn’t necessarily missing anything; I just think pushing it a little further would have added to the unsettling feeling I left the theater with. It’s visceral and unapologetic. Smart and unique. Borderline on-the-nose. Because of its subject matter, it’s the kind of movie that’s hard to say I “loved” despite the fact that I actually did.
INFINITY POOL is now showing in theaters.