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Sunday, January 22, 2023

‘Infinity Pool’ Sundance Review – Provocative Resort Horror Pushes Its R-Rating!

For his third feature outing, Writer/Director Brandon Cronenberg returns to the deep well of surreal, grotesque sci-fi horror. Cronenberg doles out heady, warped horror at the resort-set Infinity Pool, with its title a clue to the vanishing edges of reality. While more accessible and linear than the filmmaker’s previous effort, it’s no less compelling, audacious, and extremely violent.

James Foster (Alexander Skarsgård) hopes to find inspiration for his second novel at the all-inclusive resort in Li Tolqa with his wife Em (Cleopatra Coleman). Instead of jump-starting his writer’s block, the couple winds up lazing around the pool and enjoying the comforts of the resort nestled in a country dangerous for tourists. That is until he meets Gabi (Mia Goth), a massive fan of James’ sole novel. Gabi and her husband Alban (Jalil Lespert) entice James and Em on a day trip beyond the barbed wire fences of the compound, resulting in a tragic accident that leaves James at the mercy of the authorities. Punishment is swift and severe, but the loophole that allows James’ freedom begins a cycle of violence and debauchery.

Straightaway, Cronenberg instills an off-kilter, satirical vibe with his fictional setting. Aside from the heavily guarded walls of the resort, its hosts regale guests with local customs while donning masks of twisted, deformed flesh. Then there’s the enigmatic Gabi, a charismatic seductress that knows just the right things to say to appeal to James’ vanity and ego.

It begins the constant push and pull of tension like an infinite loop of increasing madness. The suspenseful encounter with the locals’ harsh laws is only merely a catalyst for the trippy erosion of James’ ego, vanity, and privilege. Emphasis on trippy; whether through sci-fi means or drug-induced orgies, Cronenberg merges body horror and sexuality in increasingly bizarre, hallucinatory ways that push the boundaries of R-rating.

It’s not just the shocking escalation or Cronenberg’s approach that keeps Infinity Pool so engaging and occasionally repulsive, but the committed performances by Skarsgård and Goth. The increasingly complex layers added to James and Gabi reveal there’s far more to Infinity Pool than simply the rich eating the rich. Skarsgård toggles between extreme vulnerability and primal rage. At the same time, Goth progresses her character’s devious machinations with a scene-stealing level of unhinged glee that might give Pearl a run for her money. The scene-stealer showcases her comedic chops that make her feel all the more dangerous. Together, the pair take their characters to places that never fail to leave your jaw on the floor- again and again.

On a surface level, Infinity Pool feels like Cronenberg’s version of The Aristocrats, a long-running, taboo-defying joke told by various comedians. It’s as starkly funny as it is shocking. But it’s much more incisive than a wild depiction of the badly behaved upper class. As its title suggests, the longer James gets caught up in the madness, the more his edges and identity blur. That means that it’s almost certain to be polarizing. But Cronenberg’s sense of style, paired with an unrelenting sense of dread and tension and two utterly captivating, depraved leads ensure these provocative waters are worth wading into.

Infinity Pool made its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and releases in theaters on January 27, 2023.

The post ‘Infinity Pool’ Sundance Review – Provocative Resort Horror Pushes Its R-Rating! appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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