Vacations don’t get any more luxurious than those experienced by James (Alexander Skarsgård) and his wife M (Cleopatra Coleman) in Brandon Cronenberg’s fun new horror picture, infinity pool. James and Em are vacationing at a hotel complex in Le Tolca, a corrupt and violent tropical state. James is a struggling author with one book to his name. He hopes the holiday will cure his writer’s block. His wife is the owner of the money. At the resort, they are befriended by another couple, Gabe (Mia Goth)—who claims to be a fan of James’ work—and her charming and cunning husband Alban (Jalil Lespert). When the pair venture out of the heavily fortified hotel complex, alcohol, sex and bad driving combine to put James in a very difficult position.
Cronenberg shares his father David’s fascination with violence, bodily fluids, and fellow-likeness. As in Luis Buñuel’s old surreal satire about rich guests at never-ending dinner parties, the characters here are trapped in a terrifying gilded world from which they cannot escape. The local authorities have a new way of dealing with misbehaving rich tourists…they have the families of the victims execute them. But there is a way out. Those able to pay a “significant sum” are allowed to create clones of themselves. So wealthy tourists could sit in the public gallery and watch their deaths.
Skarsgärd gives an intriguing performance as the seemingly fraudulent, repressed writer who soon reveals his bestial and masochistic instincts. Despite this, Guth is the fulcrum of the film as Gabi, the main instigator and agent of corruption. Her hilarious, homey voice belies her more subversive and immoral behaviour. Goth plays it with gaiety and charm, even in the most gruesome of moments.
This is a story without traditional heroes. Cronenberg blurs the lines between victims and perpetrators. Its main characters act mean and sometimes cowardly but you feel sorry for all of them. In its more psychedelic and fantastical moments, the storytelling becomes tiresome. The drug-induced orgy sequences, shot in a blurred and fragmented manner, are over the top. The targets of film satire are sometimes hard to pin down. Not only does Cronenberg attack the filthy rich, but he is also scathing in his portrayal of policemen and local officials. For example, the violent detective Thresh (Thomas Kretschmann), who takes a very realistic approach to scaring tourists. It’s a job and he’s grateful for it.
The storytelling feels even stranger and more confusing because normal life at the holiday resort seems to be going on even as some of the guests have been arrested and killed.
clear reference point for infinity pool It is a hit TV series white lotus, in which guests at a five-star hotel have similarly disturbing encounters with sex and death. Despite this, Cronenberg was also influenced by zombie movies, and it is speculated that he must have drawn some inspiration from the orgy scenes at the end of a Stanley Kubrick movie. closed eyes, also. The most amusing aspect of the movie is the sudden changes in tone. One moment, the protagonists of the game are going to have a small talk over dinner. Next time, they will wear masks to rob and assault someone. Sometimes, they look very worn out and boring. Some old-fashioned sex and violence is one way to pass the time.
Cronenberg shows us the reckless hedonism of his heroes. They are oblivious to the suffering in the world outside the hotel gates. All that matters is that they get their kicks. Blood-shredding moments are combined with a depth of characterization you don’t always get in traditional horror fare. In its harrowing and provocative way, the film is often funny but thought-provoking and very scary as well.
Director: Brandon Cronenberg. Starring: Alexander Skarsgard, Mia Goth, Cleopatra Coleman. 18, 118 min
Infinity Pool will be in cinemas from March 24
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