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INFINITY POOL: A Twisted Yet Shallow Cronenberg Experience

It’s no secret that the Cronenberg family has a deeply pessimistic view of humanity. More specifically, David Cronenberg and son, Brandon Cronenberg, have angrily taken aim at the systems put in place by humanity. While David has been honing this craft for over thirty years in the world of filmmaking, his son, Brandon, recently broke into the scene with his acclaimed 2020 film Possessor. If that film was masterful at turning an appalled eye to the evils of surveillance, Infinity Pool feels a bit more rocky in its sentiments concerning the ultra-rich. Cronenberg’s 2023 follow-up is a twisted, delightful vacation to the cinema, even if it occasionally falls into the trap of feeling like parody. Alexander Skarsgärd plays James, a writer in search of inspiration who has taken off to a beach resort alongside his wife, Em (Cleopatra Coleman). There, the two meet Gabi (Mia Goth) and Alban (Jalil Lespert) through a chance encounter. Vacation friends are a rare type of relationship, where you might not share anything in common aside from location, yet somehow there are good times to be had and memories to be made. But, this is a Cronenberg film after all, so good times will be hard to come by. Instead, one can expect the usual suspects to rear their horrific heads: body horror, an immense amount of fluids, and a perverse sense of dread that will keep an audience entranced. Unfortunately, there’s much more to be desired from the script past those admittedly interesting visuals and style.

As the four get to know one another (in a variety of ways), Cronenberg begins knocking over dominoes that really set up the stakes and fascinating dilemma his mind conjured up for Infinity Pool. There are two main questions presented within the film, both of which feel obviously straightforward, rather than merely underexplored throughout the screenplay. To put it simply, this film has a deeply exciting hook that fails to reel in anything of significance. While taking aim at the elite who make up the 1% is no stranger to the realm of cinema, in the past 6 months, there has been a massive influx of media taking on this recent target. Eventually, if nothing new is being said, it will start to get a bit stale. Luckily, Cronenberg is clearly following in the footsteps of his father and showcasing an intense and profound talent behind the camera,

as evidenced by the devious fascination viewers will experience the longer this film plays out. But the horrific excess can only take one so far.

As a sequence best described as pornography funneled through a 2001-esque lens plays out, some may begin to wonder what else could possibly be in store. Then leashes start getting involved, and one thing should become clear to viewers: the heights to which Cronenberg can soar has no ceiling. This is a deeply weird movie that takes some massive swings, and Neon giving it a wide release should be applauded. With two lead performances as locked in as Skarsgärd and Goth are, this is bound to be memorable in at least a handful of ways. Following up the pure savagery of The Northman, Skarsgärd is able to hone into something special. He is subdued for a lot of the film, letting his petrified eyes do the heavy lifting. But when he is allowed to become animalistic yet again, it is impossible for the viewer to look away. Alongside Goth, Infinity Pool has a surefire recipe for some sort of success; any horror movie starring her is bound to succeed. She is deeply unsettling the further into madness a film descends, and coming off of Pearl, it’s great to see her double down on this specific type of unhinged lunacy. All in all, what Infinity Pool may lack in a fresh look at the evils of wealth, it makes up for in bold vision. Cronenberg may seem to be following in the footsteps of his father, but his films feel much larger in scope. I’m deeply interested in the world of Infinity Pool, and while there is much left to be desired, you will certainly get what many have come to expect from the Cronenberg moniker. I’m obviously of the opinion that audiences should never settle for the bare minimum. However, if a film with such astonishingly gross practical effects can be released as widely theatrical as this, then it’s much easier to look past a shallow script in search of a vision that is unique and bold.

Neon released Infinity Pool in theaters on January 27th.

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