Movie review: Infinity Pool (2023)
It must be hard to craft your way out from underneath the parental shadow, especially when it carries the name Cronenberg. Cronenberg Snr. has established a venereal horror scene to eviscerate the celluloid senses and cement a sub genre in his own right.
His son Brandon has been slowly ebbing away at this terrain but gradually shifting the focus from the physical body and into the intellect and its impact on the soul of humanity.
Where his freshman feature, Antiviral tapped into a similar vein to his father, exploring the warped world of celebrity status and bacterial infection, his follow up film, Possessor took a step further into the mind with a storyline centred on its infiltration by a secret organisation and the psychological residue left in its wake.
Now, he takes another bold step into the psyche and scrutinises the subject of morality and reasoning as his playground. Cronenberg still dips his toe into familiar waters for Infinity Pool and the vacuous facade of the riches, struggling to paste over their empty lives in the pursuit of feeling. To what extent will they be willing to go to and how long can they sustain this rush before it too ebbs away and reminds them just how insignificant they are?
Set on an isolated island, novelist James (Alexander Skarsgård) and his wife Em (Cleopatra Coleman) are enjoying lapping up life’s pleasures but soon succumb to temptation when they meet the mysterious Gabi (Mia Goth). Lured beyond the realms of the resort they immerse themselves in a world of violence and hedonism but when tragedy strikes they are given an ultimatum. Death or immunity… at a price. And therein paves the way for morals to slide and immortality loom large. If money can pay your way out of your troubles and there is an exhaustible supply of it, is there any end to the depravity?
Where Cronenberg endeavours to explore a clearly passionate subject matter, he loses some essence of what allowed him to shine through in his earlier features. That’s not to say there isn’t plenty on show here for his vision to triumph in places. The theme explored in tainted luxury through sour milk and burnt honey is a creative’s dream. Skarsgård provides the anchor to drive the narrative through, but its Goth who is in her element, providing another avenue to the unhinged mentality that she gloriously embellishes and never fails to disappoint.
Infinity Pool is a curious delight which may pale in comparison to this writer’s eyes against his other features, but no doubt this attempt is a worthy addition to his canon and will warrant further scrutiny when he gains a weightier backlog. I can’t wait to see what direction Cronenberg goes in next.
Infinity Pool will be screening in cinemas nationwide from Thu May 11th.