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‘Infinity Pool’ is a 2023 science fiction horror film written and directed by Brandon Cronenberg. A struggling writer, played by Alexander Skarsgard, embarks on a vacation and encounters an enigmatic woman, Gabi, and her husband. After a horrible tragedy puts him in the hot seat, the writer James Foster discovers the corrupt country he’s been vacationing in has a deadly secret. The story has been compared to by many as another “eat the rich”-style thinkpiece in line with Ruben Östlund’s Palme d’Or winner “Triangle of Sadness” from 2022. However, it may be more than that.
‘Infinity Pool’ premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. The film, released on January 27, 2023, was met with generally positive reviews from critics, who praised the thick aural drones of Tim Hecker, and the direction of the young Cronenberg. Neon, the film’s distributor in the United States, initially received an NC-17 rating from the MPA, but after some minor re-edits, the film was given an R rating for its theatrical run. Cronenberg said the inspiration for the story came from a vacation to the Dominican Republic, where there was a similarly situated retreat with a culturally bankrupt “town square” that acted as little more than an added attraction for the resort. For something so unreal, the first few minutes of ‘Infinity Pool’ contain more truth than fiction.
It’s natural ‘Infinity Pool’ would be compared to something like ‘The White Lotus.’ They both run on the darker side of satire, exploring the victimization of marginalized communities while also highlighting the privileges of those who exploit them. That said, ‘Infinity Pool’ is not recognizably similar in execution. For example, near the end of the film, Cronenberg sees fit to immerse his audience in fits of kaleidoscopic bliss, bringing a new and thrilling execution to the old adage, “show, don’t tell.” Mia Goth is the standout— a fact few will find surprising if they’ve been following Ti West’s newest saga of slashers— but she’s more Franco in ‘Spring Breakers’ here than Coolidge in ‘White Lotus.’
The complexity of her character, Gabi, is as labyrinthian as the plot of the film itself. She is a foil to Skarsgard, who mostly stays placid as he struggles to understand the rules of her increasingly complex game. Elements of science fiction blend with an actualized trolley problem that, in practice, immerses its audience in a psychedelic daze. Both characters lean archetypical in the end, and the film pulls off its surrealist tilt with tremendous gravitas. It’s this tension between the two that keeps the film’s energy vital, though not with his wife, Em, played by Cleopatra Coleman. Surely she, among other characters, could be discarded. ‘Infinity Pool’ is not without its weaker joints, but it hardly matters when you judge the body as a whole. The script alone couldn’t make this movie great, but combined with its pitch-perfect cast, the end product is undeniable.
‘Infinity Pool’ is an ambitious and thought-provoking film that challenges its audience to think critically about the world we live in. It’s a thrilling and stylish thriller that rewards those who have the stomach to take the plunge. With its impressive cast, brilliant direction, and mesmerizing score, ‘Infinity Pool’ is a must-see for any fan of science-fiction horror. There’s plenty of both to make it worth your while, and it’s done at a level so high, it’s inevitable the name Cronenberg must be attached.