AW Kautzer's Film Review Film

Film Review: Infinity Pool (2023) 

Infinity Pool

Brandon Cronenberg’s Infinity Pool continues the writer/director’s building of a uniquely adroit and disturbing filmography.  

Note: The version reviewed for the site was the NC-17 rated cut, not the R-Rated cut being shown in the release.

The methodical almost painterly way that Infinity Pool lulls one into its beauty – landscape, architecture, and bodies – is a bit of trickery.  That tempting beauty lures one into safety only to bag and bludgeon you senseless with imagery and sound.  Brandon Cronenberg’s third film is one about the notion that no matter your class or caste eventually we all turn to our baser instincts. 

James and Em Foster (Alexander Skarsgård and Cleopatra Coleman) are a well-off couple vacationing at a resort compound on an Island off the Coast of Eastern Europe.  Their boring existence is shaken by meeting couple Gabi and Alban (Mia Goth and Jalil Lespert).  What begins as an innocent beach day outside the compound, ends in tragedy with the death of a local.  As James and Em are detained and interviewed by a police detective (Thomas Kretschmann) it is clear there is something rottenly corrupt but wildly dangerous at work.  All crimes committed on the island against a citizen is punishable by death, which can be negated in a way by the purchasing a “double” to take your place.  Not merely a double but an exact duplicate of the person willing to pay the price.  

Infinity Pool is not for the faint of heart.  The film is unflinchingly ugly.  Coldly detached the camera never looks away from the sex and violence its characters perpetrate against one another and sometimes against themselves.  In that regard, Cronenberg’s film is as disturbing as his previous effort Possessor.  Though here he’s added a sexual component that goes further than his previous film.  Here rather than the voyeuristic nature of sex and violence, it is the subjective, in-your-face bluntness of the two – in the hands of the elite.  

The film doesn’t portent that the rich will get their just deserts as some other recent work would have you believe. Writer/Director Cronenberg understands the elite will always take advantage, will always exploit, and will always win.  If not win at the very least go unscathed by their aberrant and sociopathic behavior.  The journey of discovery that James goes on is not finding his moral compass.  Infinity Pool is about breaking and throwing away that compass deep into the abyss.  Willingly doing so without any sort of compunction about it. 

Infinity Pool is an ugly and horrifying portrait of the dark spiral humans plunge themselves into with gleeful abandon.  What makes it horrifying isn’t the violence or aberrant behavior.  Cronenberg’s film is horrifying in the notion that we know that this is a mirror of who some people really are.  

The most horrifying moment in the film has nothing to do with violence.  A simple moment in a bus as those who subjected James to so much simply talk of “jobs” and “home decorating” as though everything that has transpired meant nothing.  It is the banality of evil in our modern times.  Where if you are rich enough and powerful enough, there are no consequences no matter what you do.  At that moment, Infinity Pool is one of the most terrifying horror films of recent memory. 

Infinity Pool in theaters January 27

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