Like father, like son, or so one would gather from the unsettling Infinity Pool (2023). Mixing science fiction, horror, and class commentary, writer/director Brandon Cronenberg takes numerous pages out of his father David’s book, delivering a piece with a sinister elevator pitch that might read “White Lotus meets Altered Carbon with a body-horror twist.”
Alexander Skarsgård stars as James W. Foster, an unsuccessful one-shot novelist vacationing with his wife Em (Cleopatra Coleman) in the fictional nation of Li Tolqa, presumably situated on the Meditteranean Sea in the Balkans. Aimlessly relaxing in an opulent resort community, James is searching for inspiration for his next book. He isn’t finding it—until he meets an attractive young fan named Gabi (Mia Goth). Gabi invites James and Em to join her and her husband Alban (Jalil Lespert) for a picnic—daringly, outside the resort grounds, where wealthy tourists are forbidden to go. Sure enough, James and Em pay for their transgression, falling afoul of the country’s rigid, unforgiving legal system when an inadvertent criminal act forces James into a difficult decision: either be executed for his mistake, or submit to an expensive cloning process so that justice can be extracted on a perfect double that bears all his memories.
Infinity Pool builds bleak, surreal intrigue with its evocative opening beats, then proceeds to elude easy prediction later on. This helps sustain interest as the plot spirals from the mundane, sordid behavior of privileged assholes to…well, ever more depraved and disturbing behavior of privileged assholes. The film isn’t saying anything particularly profound about the different set of rules our wealthiest citizens play by—the lack of accountability, the systemic corruption, the moral vacuum—but it certainly says it with rageful moxie. Skarsgård and Goth are excellent tour guides for this deranged, dark dream. Unfortunately, the theme is so strident there’s not much to say in the muddled final moments, which fall flat. But in its use of a science fictional concept as a scalpel-like metaphor, it’s a reasonably diverting construct.