Alexander Skarsgård and Mia Goth Skip Merrily Into Privileged Hell in Brandon Cronenberg’s Utterly Deranged Masterpiece ‘Infinity Pool’

There’s quite a bit that will linger after a viewing of Infinity Pool, but the uppermost question will be just where exactly Brandon Cronenberg went to high school.

You might want to avoid the area, because once James Foster (Alexander Skarsgård) falls in with a wealthy group of ne’er do wells on his vacation in the fictional state of Li Tolqa, there’s a definite schoolyard vibe to this dark satire of the privileged revelries of tourists abroad who can count on no consequences for their actions. And who would know better than Cronenberg, whose keen perception of this world has the same penetrating gaze of Sofia Coppola, with a distinct vision all his own that is nevertheless laced with the influences of wealthy parentage.

The result is everything and nothing like you’d expect when James and his wife Em (Cleopatra Coleman) run into Gabi (Mia Goth) and her partner Alban (Jalil Lespert) at a pricey resort. James is yet another struggling writer who is still strapped for inspiration since his last published novel six years ago, and is instantly drawn to Gabi, a commercial actress who is all flirtation and flattery. It naturally follows that James would be drawn to her alleged adoration, and he will discover in the most appalling way that Gabi is quite good at her job.

Stylized Master Craft

Even before Gabi and Alban reveal themselves as bad influences, Cronenberg provides aerial shots that are visual prophecies of a world about to be turned upside down, but it would be impossible to predict what is to follow when James accidentally causes a fatal accident. The penalty for such a crime is the legal equivalent of an eye for an eye, but Li Tolqa has a horrific sci-fi loophole designed to satisfy its country’s traditions and keep the money flowing. And it’s one that Gabi and Alban’s clique takes full and very hedonistic advantage of.

Without revealing too much of the twist, it literally allows the wealthy to get away with murder while satisfying their lust. It’s not a new concept, and there’s a familiarity to some of the developments, which includes orgies filmed with a depressing, neon-tinged sexuality which will titillate and fascinate, but Infinity Pool takes it even further. No one demands satisfaction for their cravings like the elite, and this group toys with far more than self-destruction, incorporating death and self-obliteration itself as their playthings.

It goes far beyond Fitzgerald’s observation on how this careless brand of people smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or vast carelessness. By the finale a very different thinker will come to mind when the tourist season ends and the crew speaks with all the banality of evil about the normal lives they’ll slip right back into with nary a white lotus to disturb their equilibrium. That such a darkly nihilistic hell possesses a kind of beauty is partly thanks to horror cinematographer Karim Hussain, who can even imbue razor wire with profundity.

Fully Committed

Then there’s the cast, who are absolutely committed to the derangement of it all. Skarsgård is so unhinged he makes his performance in The Northman seem like something out of a romcom, but it’s Goth who is once again the standout as she proves that even her psychopaths aren’t at risk of typecasting, with Gabi worlds away from her already iconic turn as the blood-spattered Pearl.

But perhaps the most forceful impression is that of a creative who is using a name laced with expectations to make a mark all his own. Brandon Cronenberg’s deranged genius obviously owes a fair amount of his style to the parent who is the far more familiar Cronenberg (at least for the moment), but much like the younger Coppola, he’s not about to surpass his father so much as take a place adjacent to him fully confident in his own prowess.

Grade: 8/10 SPECS

The R-rated version of Infinity Pool debuts in select theaters Friday.

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This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Andrea Thompson is a writer, editor, and film critic who is also the founder and director of the Film Girl Film Festival.

She is a member of the Chicago Indie Critics and runs her own site, A Reel Of One's Own, and has written for, The Spool, The Mary Sue, Inverse, and The Chicago Reader. She has no intention of becoming any less obsessed with cinema, comics, or nerdom in general.