Infinity Pool Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
Bizarre masks, a lot of bodily fluids & a terrifying Mia Goth. Brandon Cronenberg’s newest body horror is creepy, weird, though mostly unsatisfying.
Genre: Horror / Mystery / Sci-Fi
Director: Brandon Cronenberg
Cast: Alexander Skarsgård, Mia Goth, Cleopatra Coleman, Jalil Lespert, John Ralston, Amanda Brugel & Thomas Kretschmann.
Run Time: 117 min.
US Release: 27 January 2023
UK Release: 24 March 2023
German Release: 20 April 2023
As a fan of Possessor, as well as a big fan of David Cronenberg, the director’s father, I was really looking forward to the release of this movie. Finally out in Germany and having caught a screening last week, I left the theatre having obtained what I expected, yet feeling somehow unsatisfied. Just to clarify, I don’t think of this as a bad feature, since it has a lot to unpack but the concept lacks engagement. The characters are dislikeable, while the acting is phenomenal. So, put on your creepy, deformed masks, as we dip into my review for… Infinity Pool!
Novelist James and his wife Em are enjoying an all-inclusive beach vacation in the fictional seaside country of Li Tolqa, where local festivities are underway. Their marital problems exacerbate when a fatal accident exposes the country’s perverse subculture of hedonistic tourism.
The writer/director came up with the premise, following a set of personal discouraging vacation experiences, combining it with a science fiction idea he had come up with. In May 2019 an international co-production between Canada, Hungary plus France had been set up, with filming locations selected by the end of 2020. Unfortunately, the production needed to be pushed back to 2021 due to COVID reasons.
Starting with the positives, the story is a sophisticated, twisted blend of sci-fi and psychological body horror, something I came to expect from a Cronenberg film, whether it be father or son. The main topic is technically a criticism concerning the behaviour of the wealthy elite on holiday. From there, the narrative is broken up into different thematics, such as extreme hedonistic tourism, the morality of accountability by the rich, the issue of bribery in poor countries, just like the exploration of human mortality. These issues are taken to a mad extreme to provoke shock, just like revolt, within the viewership.
Having said that, though the subject is generally well handled, the angle through which it is approached is simply unengaging, reaching a disappointing, sexually drug-induced climax. As such, the plot never felt truly fulfilling, which lowered the level of rewatchability. I am okay with having seen it once but don’t need to revisit it.
Conversations revolve around these moral issues, with many dialogues discussing the metaphorical cleansing of responsibility, using the technology that is offered in that country, in exchange for money. Sadly, much of the dialogue becomes repetitive around its second half.
While audiences are introduced to a couple of side characters, the actual focus lies on the main persona, with Goth serving as an opposing tour de force that unleashes an ethical struggle within the lead.
Alexander Skarsgård gives an incredibly wild performance as James Foster, the lead character through whose eyes audiences are supposed to experience this mad underworld. He is the one carrying this movie, with his vastly different portrayals of his character, who is enamoured by what he is seeing, while at the same time repulsed when borders are being crossed. However, it is hard to connect with James, as he is a deeply unlikeable person, spineless and pathetic.
Mia Goth rides on her wave of fame, garnered in X and Pearl, giving one of the scariest, most psychotic renditions, competing with the likes of Juliette Lewis. The queen of horror proves with her performance, why the title belongs to her. She is not only trying to seduce the main persona but the audience overall. Goth, who plays Gabi Bauer, an entitled new rich bored with her life at home, playing mind games with tourists plus locals alike, keeps jumping from crazy, to seductive, to alluring with ease.
Then we have James’ wife Em, played by a great Cleopatra Coleman. As the more relatable person of the two, I would have liked to see more of her, instead of sending her away after the first half. Finally, we have Jalil Lespert, Gabi’s husband, who is just doing all her biddings.
The riveting cinematography enhances the viewing experience! This is a very graphic premise, with many of the narrative beats explored via imagery. From the jaw-dropping opening scene, in which the camera turns on a 360-degree angle while montaging past different locations of the holiday resort, to the flashy psychedelic atmosphere, this is a visual marvel! The camera makes efficient use of shallow depths of field, plus narrow framing, creating a sensation of discomfort. The sterile colours of the resort are broken by sudden bursts of bright tints.
As far as effects go, the majority seem to have been practical. The few violent scenes look shockingly realistic, however, what is truly disturbing were the graphical depictions of bodily fluids. The feature would have benefited from fewer depictions of lactating breasts, sperm and goo.
The mysteriously, ominous soundtrack, composed by Tim Hecker, makes good use of electronic sounds and rhythms.
Verdict: Brandon Cronenberg follows in his father’s footsteps, creating intense psychological body horror, with socio-political elements. While interpreting his ideas in a smart script, the subjects incorporated are less than subtle, at times even heavy on the nose. In this feature, the director examines topics of accountability, specifically when it comes to the rich elite. The problem of bribes in poorer countries. General ethics and morality, as well as human mortality. The issue is that these subjects are addressed in the most unpromising way, leading to a monotonous climax, filled with sex and drug-induced hallucinations. Mia Goth gives her most psychotic rendition to date, switching from alluring to seductive, to completely crazy, in the blink of an eye. Alexander Skarsgård gives the performance of a lifetime, though his character is most unlikeable. The cinematography is gorgeous, using brutal graphics, though, could have done with fewer bodily fluids. Infinity Pool is solid yet not worth rewatching, it deserves a 7.0 out of 10.
Have you seen Brandon Cronenberg’s latest sci-fi body horror? What did you think of it? Do you agree with my points? Thank you very much for reading!