Over the last decade, Brandon Cronenberg has only made three movies. But those three movies have been genre-bending efforts that have established Cronenberg as something of a cinematic force. Big ideas, dark social commentary, and uncomfortable imagery – Cronenberg challenges his audiences much like his father’s work. Despite sharing the same name as a legendary filmmaker, Brandon Cronenberg has clearly established his own vision. Earlier this year, Cronenberg’s third directorial effort, Infinity Pool, debuted in theaters, earning critical praise while polarizing audiences.
James Foster is a struggling writer who’s never been able to follow up on his one and only novel. Looking for inspiration, Foster has dragged his wife, Em, to a resort in Li Tolqa for a local festival. When they bump into another couple, James and Em are talked into spending the day outside the resort against the strict warnings of staff. The result is a tragic accident that exposes James to the country’s corrupt legal system and a dark culture amongst the resort’s wealthier guests.
Infinity Pool Finds Brandon Cronenberg Morphing Science Fiction and Horror in Another Mind-Bending Thriller
That above synopsis doesn’t do writer and director Brandon Cronenberg’s premise justice. Without spoiling too much, Infinity Pool finds the filmmaker once again mixing science fiction with social commentary into a wildly inventive story. Just the concept of a justice system allowing the wealthy to pay to have clones or ‘surrogates’ be executed in their place while they watch makes for an intriguing premise. And for the first 30 minutes or so, it’s this concept that will keep you fixated on the screen in spite of Infinity Pool’s more gruesome moments. Even without bits of body horror, Cronenberg transfixes with a mortifying idea unfolding in front of you.
Without spoiling too much, Infinity Pool finds the filmmaker once again mixing science fiction with social commentary into a wildly inventive story.
As story’s initial intrigue fully reveals itself, Infinity Pool finds Cronenberg haunting with hallucinogenic visuals and the increasing libertine excesses engaged in by his characters. There’s something unsettling about watching just casually his characters abandon morals. But it’s even more disturbing watching Alexander Skarsgård’s ‘James’ abandon his own humanity as he willingly tags along with his new heathen friends. Arguably, Infinity Pool drags along a little to long in its middle act. Cronenberg pads that runtime with an extended neon-drenched erotic scene that drags on too long while adding little to the movie. And the story thins out as well in the thriller’s mid-act.
Infinity Pool Offers An Unsettling Dissection of the Horrors of Extreme Wealth
If the story thins out, Infinity Pool still manages to explore some dark satire. Cronenberg’s movies always move beyond science fiction and body horror to explore the darker nature of humanity. And Infinity Pools finds Cronenberg exposing the obscene privileges of extreme wealth. Even in a thriller with some uncomfortable moments of violent, the most disturbing moments reside in the scenes where Mia Goth’s ‘Gabi’ and her inner circle mock and degrade the culture and humanity of their hosts. When they steal and wears masks tied to the country’s festival – later using them on a vicious assault – it’s the ultimate disrespect against the fictional country.
…Infinity Pools finds Cronenberg exposing the obscene privileges of extreme wealth.
Outside of its unsettling premise, Infinity Pool benefits from two stellar performances courtesy of Alexander Skarsgård (True Blood) and Mia Goth (X, Pearl). In some respects, Skarsgård finds himself on familiar ground. Here, he’s playing a character not entirely unlike the rich, tech-bro Matson from Succession. Yet he’s given a bit more humanity here with which to work. And it’s Skarsgård’s performance, as he morally grapples with his fading humanity, that galvanizes as the thriller settles into its story. Not surprisingly, Mia Goth lights up the screen every scene where she appears. It’s another performance from Goth likely to be ignored during awards season.
Infinity Pool a Timely Thriller That May be Too Disturbing for Mainstream Audiences
For those that make it to the end of Infinity Pool, you’ll be rewarded with a challenging satire that mixes science-fiction with grotesque imagery. Like his father, Brandon Cronenberg dabbles in body horror and technology, but he certainly has found his own voice. There’s a bigger scope to the setting and story here in Infinity Pool. Most importantly, the target of Cronenberg’s satire never gets lost in the wilder visual or narrative elements. This is a biting take on the wealthy class. At its core, Infinity Pool explores the extent to which money ensures a lack of any sort of accountability. As a result, its relevance isn’t likely to diminish any any time soon.