(After a premiere at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, Brandon Cronenberg’s Infinity Pool dropped into theaters. Check out Jack Schenker’s Infinity Pool movie review.
At one point in Brandon Cronenberg’s latest nightmare, Infinity Pool, a naked Alexander Skarsgård is on his hands and knees with a dog leash around his neck. If you are not sold on the film based on that image alone, this movie is not for you. While cartoonish in its violence, the film has an off-kilter vibe, and is deeply disturbing. I’ve seen plenty of horrifically violent films. From Martyrs to Cannibal Holocaust, I’ve seen it all. Infinity Pool is certainly one of the most violent and messed up movies I have ever seen. Not to mention hilarious, if you have a sick sense of humor. Audience members are bound to react strongly one way or another.
The plot begins like a new season of White Lotus, but slowly evolves into seriously distressing body horror. Alexander Skarsgård and his wife, played by Cleopatra Coleman, arrive at a beautiful resort for a romantic vacation. Skarsgård, a struggling author, is approached by Mia Goth who claims that she is a big fan of his writing. As is par for the course, once Mia Goth enters the film, the weirdness begins. From there Infinity Pool indulges in numerous themes and horror tropes such as doppelgängers, drug use, cheating, sexuality, evil rich people, and feeling lost in a country that is not your own. The story feels more like a series of disturbing vignettes than a linear connected narrative. All of it comes together under Brandon Cronenberg’s assured hand, undoubtedly inspired by his father’s work.
Infinity Pool hits a mean streak after the first act delivering one unforgettable sequence after the next. About half way through, Mia Goth and her husband introduce Alexander to a strange group of people also staying at the resort. While alone in Mia’s room, the two of them decide to take an extremely powerful psychedelic. They begin hooking up and the psychedelic kicks in. This sequence is set to a minimal techno beat as all sorts of colors and weird angles are presented. Slowly we realize that they are not the only people in the room. The strange couples from the resort are there and join in on the fun. Skarsgård, too high to comprehend what is going on is accepting and a full on orgy commences. This sequence, while vulgar, left my jaw on the floor with how it was executed. Cronenberg has a wild imagination and it leads to sequences that are equally confounding, disgusting, impressive and exciting. Mia Goth and Alexander Skarsgård give two incredible performances in this film. Mia is completely off the deep end in this role. At one point she sits on the hood of a slowly moving car eating KFC pointing a gun and screaming at Alexander that he is a “little baby.” Skarsgård has a tough job as he plays multiple versions of himself. Each of them go through the full spectrum of emotions and he hits these notes with ease.
There have been a handful of heinously gory and provocative horror films to come out in the past couple years such as Titane and Cronenberg Sr.’s Crimes of the Future. What makes Infinity Pool stand out amongst these films is how Cronenberg helms his violence. Utilizing similar techniques he deployed in his equally insane Possessor, Cronenberg and editor James Vandewater orchestrate sequences filled with quick cuts, neon lights, dark electronic music, excessive blood and an emphasis on skin. It is not just the body horror that stems from his father, but also his techniques in cinematography and sound design, clearly influenced by his Cosmopolis, Videodrome and Dead Ringers.
If you are squeamish in any way, you have been warned, stay away from this movie. However, if you are someone who gets excited about an NC-17 rating, I implore you to support this film. Despite its over-the-top violence, and somewhat thin satire on class struggle, the film is made with so much passion and technical skill. I will certainly be seated in a theater for whatever Brandon Cronenberg does next.
– Jack Schenker (@YUNGOCUPOTIS)
Brandon Cronenberg; Infinity Pool movie review