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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Criticism: ‘Infinity Pool’

Infinity pool
Via IMDb
Infinity pool

Rating: 9/10

Brandon Cronenberg’s “Infinity Pool” is less of a horror film and more a kaleidoscopic and psychedelic invention. At an extravagant resort, Alexander Skarsgård stars as an emasculated author alongside the confidently insane Mia Goth. In a fictional country where the wealthy can avoid criminal repercussions by crafting a clone to suffer the punishments, the rich are lured by unfiltered hedonism. As his insecure protagonist indulges in excess, Cronenberg indulges too, callously crafting his nightmare with consistent directorial confidence.  

In its opening shot, Cronenberg establishes that confidence. The camera will flip 360 degrees on itself and offer extreme close-ups. The score is angular and the lighting is boldly saturated. These aggressive choices indicate the focus of the film. Narrative devices are basically irrelevant as plot falls to background. Instead, Cronenberg’s method is more of a sensory experience. The real discovery of “Infinity Pool” is in its disregard for conventions and its embrace for the hedonism it damns. 

Of course it’s also a satire, because everything is a satire these days. Whereas many satires fail to find a new way to poke fun at the rich, the ingenuity of “Infinity Pool” is in the unabashed experience. It’s actually more funny and less vicious than the “body-horror” genre tends to suggest, but any fan of the director’s father, David Cronenberg, would know that films like “The Fly” (1986) or “Videodrome” (1983) are using horror tools as a palette for more complex ideas. Indeed, Brandon Cronenberg has lots on his mind here, grounded in his own fears. 

The film’s protagonist mirrors those fears. He’s an author with writer’s block, a deep inferiority complex and a painstaking self-awareness of his surrounding nepotism, not truly belonging in this display of wealth. In a hierarchy of status, he sees himself at the lowest. Even in animalistic or violent sequences, the hierarchy is unbothered by Skarsgård’s brutish physicality. So desperate for any type of power, he’ll engage in the sickest of acts. One central drug-induced orgy is uncomfortable and long, but represents the crux for the entire concept of the film. 

Those deeper insecurities propel a series of hallucinatory and gratuitous displays that speak to Cronenberg himself. Looming under the shadow of his father, he feels the weight of nepotism and inferiority alike. His desperation is palpably felt through his opaque protagonist and is matched by an inevitable submission to his self-indulgences. A talented filmmaker and exciting rising voice, I’m deeply excited for what he does next. 

“Infinity Pool” is deeply weird and has already alienated many audiences. If you want something wholly original and surprisingly inventive like I do, give over to it. The protagonist is told “it’s so disgusting you would just sit there and watch it happen like a robot.” It would be a valid enough thing to tell an audience member, but I couldn’t help but breathe it in and watch. 

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