Writer/director Brandon Cronenberg returns to the silver screen with the twisted infinity pool after the stunningly violent and innovative Possessor. He once again blends horror and sci-fi in a fictional society lacking in heightened brutality with a shift to a more personal focus. infinity pool isn’t short on style, but it falls short of its previous efforts.
‘Infinity Pool’ finds surreal horrors in an all-inclusive beach resort
Writer James Foster (Alexander Skarsgård) and his wife Em (Cleopatra Coleman) arrive at an all-inclusive beach resort for a vacation on the fictional island of La Tolqa. It is an indispensable journey in search of inspiration for his next book after an artistic crisis. There, James and Em meet holiday friends in Gabi (Mia Goth) and her husband, Alban (Jalil Lespert).
The two couples get involved in a fatal accident that lands them in serious trouble in a hard-governed country. There is a legal loophole that gives them the opportunity to make things right, but the cost ultimately leads to their undoing. The group falls into a hedonistic sense of tourism that brings out their most primal behavior.
Artistic ego, privilege and sacrifice
infinity pool sets the tone with La Tolqa and immerses the viewer in the environment. The setting is beautiful and the resort is luxurious, but it is remarkably dangerous outside the barbed wire walls. The hotel staff introduces some La Tolaqan customs, such as some creepy looking Ekki masks used at ‘the summoning’. Some locals try to scare off tourists, as Gabi suggests their intention is to kill and hang guests as a warning to other tourists to return to where they came from.
The setting and laws of La Tolqa are where the sci-fi influences seep into Cronenberg’s screenplay. However, it is not without the unequal gender politics of our society. Gabi talks to James about how some modern women “weaken” men, and it takes some effort to undo the damage. La Tolqa himself adheres to traditions and laws that emphasize patriarchal control, which feeds directly into the male egos of those who are able to take advantage of the system.
Privilege is an important motif everywhere infinity pool. The beach resort is for the wealthy, as James, Gabi and their partners spend on food and other amenities. They end up causing problems without regard to local customs. Meanwhile, James admits he’s a broke writer, but floats along with Em’s wealthy father, who owns a publishing company.
The longer James, Gabi and their partners spend in La Tulqa, the more gripped they become. James and Gabi in particular have a chemistry that draws them together. However, this connection turns out to be deadly as this beach resort becomes a place for sheer chaos.
‘Infinity Pool’ is a stylistic nightmare with limited meaning
The infinity pool marketing rightly puts Skarsgård and Goth first. They fully embrace the wild nature of Cronenberg’s style and never shy away from the film’s more outlandish moments. Skarsgård is the perspective character from which we see this world, and he successfully carries that weight on his shoulders. Meanwhile, Goth delivered a brilliant performance in 2022 Pearl, which is an energy that brings them here as well. Together they drive the entire movie, even during the story’s disappointing moments.
Cronenberg returns to some intriguing uses of color and highlights nightmarish drug and alcohol abusers with dizzying visuals. Cinematographer James Vandewater contrasts the beauty of their holiday setting with the unsettling images that come to life at night. These moments pop with neon colors that take the viewer on James’ journey.
infinity pool will definitely make some viewers uncomfortable, but still feels like it could have been louder. This isn’t necessarily about the level of sex or violence, but rather how far down the rabbit hole it wants to go. Cronenberg raises some compelling ideas about artistic ego and privilege, but they remain rather hollow.
Cronenberg’s third feature is reminiscent of a combination between Spring breakers and his father, David Cronenberg, Crimes of the future. The story is stylistically fascinating, but the story feels more like an afterthought. infinity pool is a hallucinogenic playground of sex and violence that’s easy to dive into, but it’s not quite as deep as it’d like to be.
infinity pool hits theaters January 27.