Brandon Cronenberg, son of acclaimed Canadian director David Cronenberg, returns for his third feature film Infinity Pool. Brandon follows in his father’s footsteps in making science-fiction/ horror hybrids, but while David’s films make heavy use of practical effects for literal horrific imagery, Brandon’s films exist in the more theoretic though they are just as visceral. Infinity Pool continues in that tradition by utilizing a low-concept premise to deliver something devilishly twisted.
James and Em Foster (Alexander Skarsgård and Cleopatra Coleman) are on vacation in a swanky beach resort in an extremely poor country. James is a writer infamous for one book six years ago who has been surviving off his wife’s fortune in the years since. One morning near the end of their trip, James meets Gabi (Mia Goth) who along with her husband Alban (Jalil Lespert) become quick friends of the couple.
The two couple borrow a car and go for a joy ride outside of the resort, something which is expressly forbidden, and have a day of drunken partying on a beautiful, deserted beach. After nightfall, they head back to the resort with James, the most sober, behind the wheel. A glitch in the car’s lights leaves James temporarily unable to see, and it is in that moment that a local happens to cross the street in front of the car. Visibily shaken, James and Em want to inform the authorities, but Gabi and Alban, having been to the resort before refuse saying they do not want to end up in jail in such a backward country.
The next morning, James and Em are awoken to violent raps on their door, and it appears that they were unsuccessful in evading the law and James is forced into custody. In custody and staring down a serious punishment, Infinity Pool introduces the science-fiction element that becomes the crux of the remainder of the film.
Infinity pool gets extremely dark through it’s science-fiction element and it is when the film delves deep into those themes that is at its best. The conundrum proposed to James while he is in the foreign jail is innovative and his robotic response to the decision leaves Em, and the audience, uneasy of his coldness. While this piece of science fiction is revisited on a couple of occasions, it is never as dark as the first visit, and the revisits are less purposeful. The film could have definitely explored the consequences of the punishment more, but instead it occupies its time with other less interesting debauchery.
It should come as no surprise after her work last year that Mia Goth is the standout performer of the film. Her ability to be over-the-top and unhinged makes her the modern-day queen of horror. Gabi goes from the girl next door persona to a deranged gun wielding maniac, Mia Goth can do both with great prowess.
Infinity Pool belongs to a relatively modern subgenre of horror. One in which the goal is not to scare its viewers, but instead to shake and unsettle them. Brandon Cronenberg successfully creates those feelings, and while the premise could have been explored more deeply, the horror queen herself Mia Goth makes what made it to screen ever entertaining.