Skarsgård & Goth are intense in wild empty horror [Sundance]
It’s meant to shock and disgust, but while Infinity Pool starts out interesting enough, its exploration of power, corruption, and privilege only goes so far.
Not every horror film has something thought-provoking to say. infinity pool is such a movie. Written and directed by Brandon Cronenberg, infinity pool features enticing performances from Mia Goth and Alexander Skarsgård, but one cannot help but marvel at the film’s superficiality, despite its quirky depravity. It’s meant to shock and disgust — and it does — but while infinity pool interestingly begins, his exploration of power, corruption and privilege only goes so far.
James Foster (Skarsgård) is vacationing with his wife Em (Cleopatra Coleman) at a resort on the fictional island of La Tolqa. James is a writer who hasn’t published in six years and struggles to find inspiration on his journey. His marriage to Em, a publishing heiress who supports James financially, isn’t exactly a happy one, but everything changes when James meets Gabi (pearl and X Star Mia Goth), a self-proclaimed fan of his book, and her husband Alban (Jalil Lespert). The couple encourage James and Em to join them for a night away from the resort, although they are not allowed to leave the wired gates. When James hits one of the locals with his car, he has to answer for his crimes – or pay the police to have him cloned so his doppelganger dies in his place. As you can imagine, it gets all the more interesting after that.
infinity pool is all about style over substance. Cronenberg doesn’t seem very invested in anything else. Sure, the vibe is there and you can engage with the depraved characters, especially as everything gets more and more twisted as the film progresses. But there is also a void in the story. The film poses intriguing questions, addressing themes of morality and wealth and what it means when death and consequences are no longer an obstacle but hollow and limited in scope. The intention is clear, the execution overwhelming.
Perhaps the most compelling aspect of the film is Skarsgård’s character, who doesn’t really seem to find his feet and sees himself as a failure. James carries himself in such a way that he feels small and weak. Joining Gabi’s group, the only people who understand what he’s going through, gives him a chance to feel empowered — at least for a while. But once things get out of control (Yes, really wild and disturbing things are happening on the island), James is feeling worse about everything and himself again.
However, Cronenberg is only half interested in fully exploring James. Most characters are underdeveloped and underutilized. Nevertheless, Skarsgård and Goth give everything for their characters. You are engaging and willing to lean into the wild and the unexpected. Your performances are captivating. Skarsgård does not aim to charm, and he is believable as a failed writer who questions his talent. Goth, meanwhile, continues to prove that she can easily switch between cute and messy. She is magnetic to look at.
Focusing more on the physical horror and debauchery of it all, the film doesn’t even take the time to explore the fictional island that serves as the story’s setting, leaving things vague enough to allow the characters to do as they please want. Otherwise the film goes all out. There’s blood, the violence takes on a disturbing sense of joy that makes infinity pool all the more unnerving to watch, and the body horror is intense. It’s like a roller coaster ride going off track.
A certain thrill runs through infinity pool, mostly because viewers will be left wondering what will happen next. In this respect the film succeeds, although elsewhere it is underwhelming. Unfortunately, the story is chaotic and the lack of cohesion affects its execution. It embraces its weirdness happily, however, and if viewers are willing to ride along, it could prove somewhat appealing.
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infinity pool Premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival on January 21. The film is 117 minutes long and is rated R for graphic violence, disturbing material, strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and some language. It hits theaters on Friday January 27th.
https://screenrant.com/infinity-pool-2023-movie-reviews/ Skarsgård & Goth are intense in wild empty horror [Sundance]