Infinity Pool Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Brandon Cronenberg
Stars: Alexander Skarsgard, Mia Goth, Cleopatra Coleman, Jalil Laspert, Thomas Kretschman.
The third film from auteur Brandon Cronenberg (son of legendary Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg) is a hybrid mix of sci-fi, horror and trenchant social commentary on class, wealth, privilege, artistic conceits, power, western decadence, guilt and the breakdown of civilization. It comes across like a fevered, darker and more transgressive variation on the recent The Forgiven, but it becomes increasingly unhinged and bonkers.
The film is set in an isolated and exclusive idyllic beach front resort in the fictitious, impoverished country of La Tolqa. The resort itself is surrounded by barbed wire and protected by armed guards, and the guests are warned not to leave the grounds.
James Foster (Alexander Skarsgard) is a writer who suffers from writer’s block and hasn’t written anything new since his debut novel was published six years earlier to a mixed reception. He is holidaying at the resort with his wealthy wife Em (Australian actress Cleopatra Coleman), the daughter of his publisher. There they meet Gabi (Mia Goth, from Ti Wests’s horror films X and Pearl, etc) and her architect husband Alban (Jalil Laspert), regular visitors to the resort, who invite them to accompany them on an illicit day trip away from the compound to a nearby beach. On the return journey that night James is driving the car when he strikes a farmer crossing the road, killing him. The foursome quickly decides against informing the police because Gabi warns them that justice in this country can be cruel and harsh.
The next morning the police arrive at the resort and take James and Em into custody. They learn that they will be executed giving the grieving family of the dead man some sort of satisfaction. Then James learns from corrupt local cop Thresh (Thomas Kretschman, from The Piano, etc) that there is a way to escape this harsh justice. For a fee he can have a clone made of himself which will be executed in his stead, while he watches from the sidelines. James is then slowly drawn into a nightmarish world of hedonistic pleasures, primal behaviour, orgiastic sex parties and violence, orchestrated by the seductive, amoral and free-spirited Gabi. This is a world where the rich can get away with pushing the boundaries, even committing murder and not suffer the consequences.
Director Cronenberg follows in his father’s footsteps with plenty of grotesque imagery, confronting violence and stomach-churning body horror elements that have become a staple of his films. The film has been stylishly shot on location in Croatia and Hungary by his regular cinematographer Kerim Hussain (Possessor, etc), who creates a striking visual contrast between the lavish resort and the gritty landscape beyond its confines, giving the location an otherworldly look and feel. He also deliberately uses colour and interesting camera angles to further unsettle the audience.
There is also some great rapid, kaleidoscopic editing from James Vandewater (The Grizzlies, etc) who creates some dazzling and unsettling images. The film begins in ominous fashion with Tim Hecker’s jarring score and Hussain’s camera turning the locations upside down to unsettle audiences.
Goth and Skarsgard establish a combustible chemistry here and they drive the film through its wild and uninhibited paces. Goth in particular shines and brings a sense of unbridled energy and a manic quality to her performance as the femme fatale of the piece.
Infinity Pool is both confronting and confounding in equal measure and this wild and twisted ride is definitely not a film that will appeal to everyone.