With the release of Possessor (2020), Brandon Cronenberg established himself as a powerhouse of modern horror. The film displayed Brandon’s masterful understanding of not only the camera, but of the human psyche, and all the different ways you can make it snap. Infinity Pool (2023) is no exception to this, and stands as a testament to the renaissance of horror we currently find ourselves in.
A Heritage of Horror
While Brandon Cronenberg is a tour de force all on his own, there’s denying the influence of his father, the master of body horror himself, David Cronenberg. Even with his limited filmography, it’s evident that Brandon is intent on taking the surreal and terrifying sci-fi concepts explored by his father and updating them for the modern horror scene. Both Cronenbergs are so remarkably adept at presenting the audience not with worlds they’d be terrified to die in, but worlds they’d be terrified to live in.
Their ability to ground such outlandish sci-fi concepts so fully in reality is what really helps their movies feel like an inevitable vision of humanity’s future rather than an unrealistic thought experiment. This feeling of inevitability, especially when combined with the gruesome body horror that both men are known for, is responsible for a lot of the horror that you feel while watching a Cronenberg film.
While it’s fun to watch Brandon’s movies and find the tell-tale signs of his father, it’s even better to see the innovations in beauty and terror that are fully unique to Brandon, and those innovations are clearer than ever before in Infinity Pool.
The Ultimate Get-Away
While looking for inspiration for his new book, Novelist James Foster (Alexander Skarsgård and his wife Em stay at an idyllic resort in the fictional country of Li Tolqa. During their stay, the couple bump into the eccentric and beautiful Gabi, played by the riveting Mia Goth, who is a big fan of James’ novel. Gabi introduces the couple to her equally eccentric husband Alban. With some liquid courage and a bit of persuasion, Alban convinces James and Em to join him and Gabi on a beach trip outside of the gates of the resort, something that’s strictly off-limits.
The two couples spend a luxurious day at the beach drinking and enjoying each other’s company, with James and Gabi enjoying each other a bit more than they probably should, however the perfect day can’t last forever. During a drunk drive back to the resort, James accidentally kits and kills a local man.
It’s here that the true plot of the movie begins to reveal itself. James is arrested the following morning and given some hard-to-swallow news: the punishment for his crime is death at the hands of his victim’s first born son. However, there is a way out of this sentence. For a hefty sum of money, James can be cloned and have his double killed instead. James goes through with it, and he and Em watch in horror as James’ perfect clone is brutally stabbed right before their very eyes.
Traumatized, Em insists that they leave the country that night, however James suddenly can’t find his passport and instead extends his stay at the resort by a week. From here, James’ life spirals out of control. Under the seductive and alluring guidance of Gabi, James joins up with a group of rich westerners who terrorize Li Tolqa with robberies and murder every year, only to watch their clones suffer the consequences in their place.
As James sinks further and further into the depths of crimes, drugs, and depravity with Gabi and her friends, it becomes increasingly clear that he won’t be making it out of this vacation unscathed.
While watching the film for the first time, there was a quote from Silent Hill P.T. (2014) that I just couldn’t get out of my head: “The only me is me. Are you sure the only you is you?”. At no point throughout the film are we given total proof that the original James is the one we follow through the film. In fact, at times it feels like we’re being told quite the opposite. James himself is even asked at one point if he’s sure that he’s the original, and the question unsettles him.
As with many stories revolving around clones, Infinity Pool forces its audience to question what makes us human. Does James, the man who has committed these terrible crimes, have more of a right to live than the clones who are as innocent as a newborn baby, solely based on the fact that he’s a natural born man? The film handles this question elegantly while still never giving a definitive answer, leaving the audience to wrestle with their own morals long after the credits have finished rolling.
Fans of Possessor will immediately recognize Brandon’s stylistic flair, especially when it comes to his ‘drug sequences’, for lack of a better term. All of the trippy, mind-bending hallucinations that James experiences are not only a visual treat, but a technical achievement. Each segment is filmed using only in-camera techniques, which keeps the sequences feeling grounded despite their absurd nature.
Brandon also doesn’t shy away from violence and gore, and every cut, break, and gash is shown in excruciating detail. Especially when it comes to stabbing scenes, Brandon knows just how much to get you squirming in your seat but unable to take your eyes off the screen.
Long Live the New Flesh
With the horrific masterpiece that is Infinity Pool, any remaining doubts about Brandon Cronenberg’s skill and talent should be crushed. He has now proven time and time again that he not only has the capacity to tell riveting and unique stories, but that he can tell them in a way that will stick in your mind.
Of course, Brandon isn’t the only youngblood responsible for Infinity Pool’s success. Anyone who’s kept up with horror in the past year has certainly heard the name Mia Goth, and has more than likely seen her on screen. Just as she did for X (2022) and Pearl (2022), Mia delivers a jaw-dropping performance that really helps sell the film’s outlandish premise. With amazing talent both in front and behind the camera, Infinity Pool should assure you that the future of modern horror is in good hands.
Infinity Pool (2023) - The Horror Legacy Spreads His Wings - Malevolent Dark
Director: Brandon Cronenberg
Date Created: 1970-01-01 00:33