Infinity Pool Review: Cronenberg’s latest is an unforgettable thrill ride
Writer/director Brandon Cronenberg, the mind behind the criminally underseen Possessor, returns with his third feature film, Infinity Pool, taking audiences into a thematically rich and hypnotic downward spiral that showcases incredible storytelling and performances.
The film follows struggling writer James Foster (Alexander Skarsgard) as he and his wife Em (Cleopatra Coleman) stay as a seaside resort in the fictional country of Latoka so that James can gain inspiration. At the resort, James comes across a fan named Gabi (Mia Goth) who takes James and Em to a secluded beach one day with her husband Alban (Jalil Lespert). After a day of drinking on the beach, James kills a local farmer while trying to drive back late at night and is served the death penalty. However, James finds that he can avoid execution through a law that allows wealthy tourists to pay for a clone of themselves to be executed instead. James goes through with the process, but finds himself ensnared into a hidden world of crime and villainy that slowly brings out a darker side to him.
Cronenberg has crafted another enthralling and unique sci-fi premise with Infinity Pool as it gets you more and more on its hook as the film goes on. The concept and impact of the cloning law are spelled out perfectly and instantly evoke some thought-provoking ideas about crime and punishment. As James becomes more involved with Gabi and her band of wealthy friends, the film becomes a sickening showing of greed compromising morality. Plus, there are just so many great little twists and turns in the story that further complicate things for James and make his central arc more compelling.
Skarsgard is phenomenal in this film and brings great darkness as well as raw emotion. He makes James’ slow descent into maddening chaos incredibly provocative and harrowing. The waves of change seen in his character throughout as he gains and loses power he thinks he deserves are fascinating to see and make the film an excellent character study. Even as James’ clones Skarsgard taps into some raw emotion that legitimately leaves mental scars. That first execution sequence will haunt audiences for how real Skarsgard makes it feel and his screams of pure terror leave you on the verge of tears.
Goth also delivers an incredible performance and continues her reign as a modern queen of the horror genre. She’s just such a pro at making viewers feel uneasy while also being this mysterious entity that has you in her trance. Gabi can be quite a vicious character, especially in the film’s final act, and Goth holds nothing back in bringing that out. Viewers will never be able to unhear the psychotic way that she calls James’ name and she’ll leave you on edge till the very end.
Cronenberg’s direction and vision for Infinity Pool is easily its greatest strength though as he utilizes nearly every angle of the concept to deliver a thrilling experience that never lets off the gas. It’s incredible to see how this cloning law and James’ inner desires for wealth and power lead him to utter destruction. The moments of chaos shown in the group wreaking havoc for sociopathic delights are downright terrifying at times and showcase how depraved they’ve become.
There’s an amazing fakeout sequence that goes from being absolutely terrifying to kind of darkly hilarious to immensely disturbing with how it shows James and the group’s lack of care. The entire last act is a tense thill ride you’ll never forget and dishes out some brutally cold truths that totally deconstruct James’ power trip. Admittedly, the use of flashy hallucination sequences and body horror can feel a little excessive, but it wouldn’t be a Cronenberg film without them. The use of erotic horror is also something that makes Infinity Pool instantly stand out as it’s both fitting for the sense of freedom and power the group has and is just creepy as hell to watch. Best of all is that Infinity Pool’s ending feels complete and satisfying with how it brings James to the brink and forces him to face real punishment for the choices he’s made.
Infinity Pool is one of the best films of the year so far and is another showing of Cronenberg’s unmatched vision for uniquely grounded sci-fi tales of horror. The performances from Skarsgard and Goth cement them even further as some of the best talents currently working and help elevate the film’s themes on greed and power. Overall, it’s a must-watch thriller you’ll never forget and be hooked on from start to finish.
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