Thursday, November 30, 2023
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Infinity Pool Review

Harder and harder it gets to move Brandon Cronenberg away from comparisons to his father, David Cronenberg, Infinity Pool does him no favours. Trying to make sense of Cronenberg Jr. and his work so far is the equivalent of wondering how someone thought Sweet Caroline needed fog horns in that ill-fated mixture. Infinity Pool is a mixture of legacy and failed notions of sweet and honest intent. It is the Diagnostix Bootleg of film. Holiday-clad beings are thrown through a wringer usually reserved for those that drink at Tiki Beach in Benidorm. Infinity Pool instead hopes to rope in Mia Goth and Alexander Skarsgård to carry through the weird intricacies of resort holidaymaking, the perils of stretching beyond that and the sleek surface desires that mask real sin.  

Tilted, twisted and contorting camera angles may seem unique, but they slot neatly into what Vivarium and Nocebo have been toying with. Infinity Pool as a unique concept has the desperation of sin at its heart and the allure of it. Strife is its goal and the endless misery these characters load their plate high with are keen and overbearing representations of how far an individual will go to cement legacy, or in place of it, acceptance. Skarsgård does well with this and Goth, alongside him for much of this, is dependable as ever. Her momentum carried over from the staggered and underwhelming love letter to MGM in Pearl gives Infinity Pool that feel of modern horror legacy. A lot of Infinity Pool is expectant not earned, but Cronenberg begins to play with his style a little more. 

Bottling itself up for as long as possible, Infinity Pool plays somewhat well with the expected turns it takes. Drugs, hypnotic and mirrored sequences that have no intention behind them but ultimately presume they do. Attempting to cope with its depravity and the self-destruction showcased as the plot begins to unwind is certainly an intense expectation. James Foster (Skarsgård) is the vessel, Gabi Bauer (Goth) notes the waves. Weird and wild style does not collect and consider the message at the heart of it. Those are two parallels that Cronenberg appears to drift away from. His setting and story are usually a unique turn but the dwindling structure of Infinity Pool, the rejection of possession and the acceptance of tribal instinct fail to meet the shock-ready audiences. 

Resorts are an escape. But turning that permanent is on the mind of Cronenberg as he tours around a feature that is neither as articulate as Antiviral nor visually present and unhinged like Possessor. Granted, he attempts to pair the two together here but neither comes through. He attempts to create an eerie and sinister representation of modern lust and justifications for eye for an eye behaviour. Instead, he finds the experience either too tiring or too removed from the violent energy and presence of cult-like behaviour found later. Building to that with style is good enough for the short term, but an empty reflection pours out soon after. Enough distance is set between father and son, and that is always a change Brandon Cronenberg will have to adapt to. Emotionless variety and fairly expected delves into the deep and brutal hearts of darkness these characters represent, Infinity Pool is rather finite on its detail and intrigue.  

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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