The Deep End
‘Infinity Pool,’ Brandon Cronenberg’s follow-up to ‘Possessor,’ is a trip
In 2020, writer-director Brandon Cronenberg burst onto the horror scene with Possessor, immediately cementing his own stake in the genre, nepo baby be damned. His highly anticipated follow-up Infinity Pool assures thriller fans that there’s more where that came from.
Horror is about making you feel unsafe in the places you take for granted. Psycho with the shower. Jaws with the ocean. Recently, Nope with the sky. Broken down in this simple way, Infinity Pool takes aim at the perceived safety of the all-inclusive foreign resort.
INFINITY POOL ★★★★ (4/5 stars)
Directed by: Brandon Cronenberg
Written by: Brandon Cronenberg
Starring: Alexander Skarsgård, Mia Goth, Cleopatra Coleman
Running time: 118 min
James Foster (Alexander Skarsgård) and his wife Em (Cleopatra Coleman) are vacationing in La Tolqa, a fictional island with white-sand beaches and well-to-do vacationers frequenting its resorts. James, a published writer, reluctantly agreed with Em to take this trip as a potential remedy to the six years of writer’s block that’s kept him from starting his second book. James has a chance meeting with fellow vacationers Gabi (Mia Goth) and her husband, Alban, (Jalil Lespert), professed fans of James’s work, and the two couples take to double dating. While driving back late one night from a day trip, James accidentally runs over and kills a local man. Just James’s luck the La Tolqa authorities are the type to deal out crazy medieval justice to foreigners.
When they take James into custody, the head detective offers him a deal. Either they can execute him for his heinous crime, or they can clone him and he can watch his clone take the punishment instead. Worst vacation ever.
Cronenberg is playing with the fantastical here, of course, but Infinity Pool has a lot to say about upper class tourism culture and the perception of the self. The double meaning of the modern natatorial amenity and the bizarre submersion device the locals use to clone humans ad nauseum should give you an idea of how far Cronenberg’s tongue is in cheek.
Much was made of this film’s original NC-17 rating (that cut screened at Sundance) before an edit for the theatrical release came in at an R rating. Rated R or not, no one films a stabbing like Brandon Cronenberg. No one films a trippy, analog-distorted sex scene like Brandon Cronenberg.
Infinity Pool feels like a beautiful marriage of David Lynch-style psychodrama with Cronenberg body horror™. Whereas Possessor was a full-on depressing descent into corporate dystopia, this outing demonstrates that Cronenberg can dish out the absurdist humor, too. Much of it comes from Goth, who has cornered the market on unhinged genre film performances. Skarsgård mostly plays the straight foil, but, as throughout his career, he’s fully game for the physical and the ludicrous.
Ultimately, I think Infinity Pool falls short of being a mindfuck. But sometimes we could all use just a poolside mindmassage. Come on in. The water’s fine.
One thought on “The Deep End”
Brandon Cronenberg seems a lot like Joe Hill — obviously influenced by his father, yet with a sensibility all his own.