“Infinity Pool” is a futile dive into vulgarity

Sonali Khanna, A&E Editor

The pampered one percent seems to be the new favorite punching bag for modern filmmakers, with some prominent examples being recent releases like The Menu, Triangle of Sadness, and now, Infinity Pool. Despite being an easy target to ridicule, films that go down this path usually end up with little to nothing to say past the initial setup. 

Brandon Cronenberg’s newest film tackles similar themes — with expected elements of intense, grim horror. Unfortunately, Cronenberg brings nothing new to the subgenre targeting the wealthy, as he prematurely halts the plot before one can decipher any real meaning behind the madness.

The film follows James Foster (Alexander Skarsgård), a failing writer who crosses paths with an enigmatic woman named Gabi (Mia Goth) while on vacation. The island they’re staying on has a corrupt judicial system, which allows an alternative to the death penalty for anyone rich enough to afford it. The easy way out involves cloning, an execution, and no other repercussions once the clone dies. 

Skarsgård’s performance demands a sense of mutability for Goth’s more domineering personality to have its full impact, which is why he never gets the chance to get past mediocrity.  Although Goth recently gained popularity for her vibrant character acting in Pearl and X, her repeating quirks feel more annoying than anything in Infinity Pool.

Combining physical torture with mental torment is an appealing concept that Brandon Cronenberg’s father, David Cronenberg, is well-known for exploring across his filmography. Factors like body mutilation and grotesque horror add an unpredictable twist to an otherwise imitative premise but are almost expected when watching a film created by a Cronenberg. 

Uneasy segments in the film (most notable ones being the cloning scenes) stay in the back of one’s mind even weeks after viewing — and are often the most successful parts of it. Ranging from distressing, captivating montages of depravity to a constant feeling of impending doom, the film knows how to set up just the right atmosphere.

However, after pulling off a good introduction to an intriguing narrative, Infinity Pool ends up going nowhere with it. Once the excitement of the initial exposure to this world wears off, the increasingly repetitive nature of the previously mentioned strengths is not enough to maintain any interest in the film. It felt like the movie couldn’t keep up with its own audacious premise. After countless tedious clone deaths, the film’s purpose started to die out too.

An unexciting cast combined with a half-baked concept ultimately makes for a forgettable watch, despite all of its wild depravity. Infinity Pool sets the stage for something great, but being able to introduce a concept is not the same as being able to make a point with it, which is why Cronenberg’s social commentary comes up shallow.