At a time when it’s pleasingly fashionable to expose the awfulness of the mega-rich – see The White Lotus, Succession, The Menu – body horror master Brandon Cronenberg (Possessor) has taken things one step further than the competition. His new film Infinity Pool, which premiered this week at The Sundance Film Festival, is a riot of sex, murder and intoxication presented with an appropriate aural and sonic ferocity.
Acclaimed novelist James Foster (Alexander Skarsgård) is enjoying a luxurious holiday in the fictional country of Li Tolqa (actually shot in Croatia) with wife Em (Dopesick‘s Cleopatra Coleman). He’s approached by flirty fan Gabi (Mia Goth), who invites the pair to dinner with her husband Alban. After dinner, and following a drive to a secluded beach, Gabi treats James to an off-menu, beachfront dessert that neither of their partners would approve of. Later, as they’re driving home, James accidentally runs over a farmer. The next morning he is arrested, and then charged by local police. Here is where it gets weird. To escape the death penalty, he can pay to watch a clone of himself executed by the farmer’s son in his place. He does so.
The child’s repeated stabbing of the clone turns into a moment of horrified realisation for James. It causes him to engage in wild excesses with Gabi and her unhinged cronies including robbery and murder. There are no risks. They know that if they get caught, they can just make more clones to avoid punishment. Eventually, we start to wonder if it is indeed the doubles who are being killed, and not the originals themselves. The cloning procedure is purposefully vague, portrayed via a mind-searing burst of psychedelic colours, throbbing sounds and nudity.
Anyone familiar with Cronenberg’s work will probably already be on board but, clearly, his third film is not for the squeamish. If you are likely to be upset by a cum-shot closeup, slit throats or masked lunatics savagely killing people, then steer clear. If not, then sit back and enjoy another terrifying performance from newly anointed scream queen Mia Goth, star of modern classics X and Pearl. This time out she’s more chiller than killer, bouncing off Skarsgård’s more subtle work. How much longer this trend for satirising the excessively wealthy will last remains to be seen – powerful people don’t like being laughed at and are well-connected enough to decide what films get made and don’t. But if the work is as strong in content and quality as Infinity Pool, long may it continue.
- Director: Brandon Cronenberg
- Starring: Mia Goth, Alexander Skarsgård, Cleopatra Coleman
- Release date: January 27 (US), March 24 (UK)