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Infinity Pool (Elevation Pictures) [Film Review]

So, what did we think of Brandon Cronenberg’s third feature, ‘Infinity Pool’ (Elevation Pictures)? Well, if this is the future of horror, then please count us in.



Infinity Pool movie

Horror fans who have felt the strain of the mediocre chiller over the last however many years must be feeling quite pleased of late with a spate of films that might not be to everyone’s tastes but are certainly a cut above the average franchise blockbuster or CGI jump-scare fest.

The success of franchises in the mould of The Conjuring, Halloween and Scream re-boots and recent hyped-up spook-a-thons like Smile and The Black Phone have hauled international audiences back into cinemas, but the results have generally left us cold, but still, we return.

Jordan Peele’s trilogy of films has proved that it doesn’t just have to be cheap thrills all the way and has introduced that ol’ Devil called intelligence back into the genre. Whether Peele has upped the ante or not is debatable, but lately, there have been some excellent horror films that have succeeded in being actually scary. A rare thing for many years.

Alex Garland’s Men from last year heralded a film that channelled feminism without being preachy, casting Rory Kinnear as literally an Everyman, taking on all male roles, including unpleasant children. The bio-morphic climax is still haunting the recesses of my mind six months on. It was a film that embraced body-horror brilliantly, echoing the very best of David Cronenberg’s early output.

This year, Enys Men set the tone for a brave return of British Folk Horror, whilst The Menu took psychological horror into fun new territory.

2022’s Porno themed Texas Chainsaw Massacre homage X introduced a new kind of Scream Queen in the form of Mia Goth in a performance that was both brave and jaw-dropping, but the recently reviewed here Pearl provided a 2023 prequel to X that left this reviewer in a state of shock. Not shock horror, but shock that originality is alive and well in the Horror genre.

A still from Infinity Pool

A still from Infinity Pool

Following the controversial Possessor from 2020, Brandon Cronenberg (Son of Dave) presents us with Infinity Pool, the latest in this joyous spate of quality Horror movies. Not since last year’s Triangle of Sadness have I watched a film that has cranked my mouth wide open into a solid rictus for pretty much the entire running time. Starting with stomach-churning establishing shots of a luxury holiday resort, shot upside down and sideways in fluid motion, the film has us un-nerved before any sign of bloodshed, or even human existence.

Much like The Menu, the characters we eventually meet are obnoxious and unlikeable, but we are strangely sympathetic to the holidaying author in search of inspiration, James Foster (Skarsgard), probably because he is just so helplessly out of his depth from the start. Everyone that he and his wife Em (Cleopatra Coleman) meet are so twisted that he stands little chance against their schematic gameplan.

A still from Infinity Pool

A still from Infinity Pool

In 1996, David Cronenberg released the highly controversial (tame by his son’s standards) Crash, based on the auto (mobile)-erotic novel by J.G. Ballard. 25 years later, Brandon re-presents a compendium of Ballardian tropes in Infinity Pool. The exotic resort, the mysterious guests, the meta-morphic elements between humans and mind-adjusting plants and the uber-eroticism are ripped straight from the pages of Cocaine Nights, Super Cannes, and the short stories from Vermilion Sands, whilst the surreal conventions of the resort echo the nightmare laboratories of his iconic Atrocity Exhibition. Even High-Rise is recalled as the behaviour of the guests intensifies.

The story seems basic enough at first, with the hapless couple taking time-out on a fictional paradise island who unwittingly become involved in a tragic beach party, the consequences of which lead us into a rabbit hole of self-governing island mayhem and Doctor Who-style regeneration. Via lengthy strobe-infused sex scenes, ultra-violent episodes in a Clockwork Orange style and blatant homages to Kubrick, Lynch and Shyalaman, we are offered a tour de force climax that could go anywhere.

A still from Infinity Pool

A still from Infinity Pool

And then there is Mia Goth. After delighting us in X and Pearl, she appears here as guest (Mia), who is seemingly in awe of James’ one published novel and forces herself, along with her myriad zoo of friends, upon the poor couple. Her performance will divide audiences and make or break whether they love or hate the film, but from my humble point of view, I couldn’t take my eyes or ears off her. To call her performance “powerhouse” is not giving enough credit. Falling somewhere between her now trademark Psycho witnessed in X and Pearl, and Queenie from Black Adder II, she toys with James (explicitly so in an early beach scene) to absolute extremes, and is as hilarious as she is terrifying. A scene involving a bottle of wine and a car bonnet is up there with the closing monologue from Pearl and is impossible to tear yourself away from.

Critics are divided by Infinity Pool, possibly as it can be seen as pretentious (fair enough), but if approached as an arthouse sci-fi/Horror hybrid that has something truly original to offer, then there is a lot to enjoy here. Manic effects, equally manic performances, beautiful cinematography and a plot so sick and twisted (almost A Serbian Film territory) tick many boxes for the hard-core horror fan.

If this is the future of horror, then please count me in.

Infinity Pool movie poster

Infinity Pool movie poster

Director: Brandon Cronenberg
Writer: Brandon Cronenberg
Starring: Mia Goth, Alexander Skarsgard, Cleopatra Coleman, Jalil Lespert
Production Company: Film Forge, Elevation Pictures, Hero Squared, 4 Film.
Distributed by: Universal Pictures, Elevation Pictures (Canada)
Release Date: January 22, 2023 (Sundance), January 27, 2023 (Canada), March 24, 2023 (UK)
Run Time: 118 mins

Del Pike is a University lecturer in Film and Media in Liverpool (UK). He writes film, music, art, literature and culture articles and reviews for a number of websites. Del loves nothing more than snuggling down in a dark cinema, getting sweaty at  a live gig or drifting off late at night to a good book. He loves cats. He enjoys promoting new talent online so please say hi if you have something to show.