- Hamish Hart
Infinity Pool (2023) Review
BRANDON Cronenberg, son of acclaimed actor/director David Cronenberg, returns to the big screen to provide audiences with his latest psychedelic horror film. Although his previous outings in 2012 and 2020 received minor praise, Infinity Pool proved to be a standout during this year's Sundance Film Festival thanks to the star-power of leading duo Alexander Skarsgard and Mia Goth. But while critics may have loved the movie, has the same acclaim managed to resonate with general movie-goers?
During their vacation to the island of La Tolqa, married couple James (Alexander Skarsgard) and Em Foster (Cleopatra Coleman) befriend travelling tourists Gabi (Mia Goth) and Alban Bauer (Jalil Lespert), resulting in an unforeseen accident which chain reacts into surreal mysteries hidden within the resort's vicious hierarchies, exposing the isle's dictatorship further than any of them could've imagined.
The overarching plot of Infinity Pool appears straightforward on surface level, but when the film's unique concept is thrust upon viewers after act one's thrilling conclusion, this experimental horror-trip takes a unique dive to say the least; sadly not in all too satisfying ways. Cronenberg, in an ironic twist, seems too scared to fully-commit to his surreal gimmick despite labelling itself as a sexually-charged horror mystery (emphasis on the sexual).
There is certainly alot to love about Cronenberg's latest endeavour, but Infinity Pool ultimately suffers from what many modern horror films are suffering from: character motivations and development. The film's protagonist, James Foster, is first introduced to us as a wealthy, narrow-minded individual looking to garner attention which is perfectly fine if the film wants him to realise the error of his ways. However, as his story progresses, very little is done to emphasise his growth as a character, instead deciding to focus on his rocky relationship with Em; an implied relationship which is never confirmed as viewers are left confused and never given ample reason to care about the end result of their ever-growing kinship. To the movie's credit, the tenuous relation between James and Gabi is more developed and more interesting as a result, and like the film itself, it rapidly becomes ravenous and obscene the deeper it dives.
Considering the film's NC-17 classification, violence and sexual themes were to be expected, but I can say with unadulterated confidence that Infinity Pool is a fever dream of sex, drugs, and severe violence. There are times were the severity of the imagery certainly adds to the chill factor, but for the most part, the film feels like it's using its graphic content as simple shock factor; never a bad thing, but incredibly predictable and forthcoming.
The editing may be overblown and the plot may be incoherent, but this horror drug-trip is saved by the wonderful performances given by the leading duo of Alexander Skarsgard and Mia Goth. Skarsgard continues his rapid rise within the Hollywood scene by delievering outstanding performances such as this, meanwhile Mia Goth is easily the best actress in this film, ironically playing the role of a failing actress. Her roles in X and Pearl continue to solidify the English actress as one of the best actors working in horror today.
Infinity Pool can only be described as a psychedelic drug-trip; fantastic during it's best moments, but incoherent and irritating during the worst of times. Director Brandon Cronenberg attempts to create a genre-defining horror for the ages, but instead the film comes off as a disjointed compilation of sexualised symbolism and bloody ideologies; what could've been great instead ends up being just OK.