It’s still only January, but already we have our first serious contender for horror films of the year. Yes, thank you Megan, but please move over – here comes Brandon Cronenberg’s Infinity Pool.
In his follow-up to the sublime Possessor a young married couple (Alexander Skarsgård and Cleopatra Coleman) settle into holiday in a gated resort somewhere in a vaguely defined “developing world” country – think somewhere on the boarder between Costa Rica, Armenia and Myanmar. When they are coaxed into a trip beyond the barbed wire fence out into the real world by a friendly stranger (Mia Goth) and her husband, things take a slide and the holiday of a lifetime becomes a depersonalising descent into psychedelic/psychotic hell.
Infinity Pool continues Cronenberg’s fascination with extreme psychological states triggered by absurd, existential sci-fi concepts (no spoilers here as to exactly what sends Mr Skarsgard over the edge) and features dashes of everything from Clockwork Orange to The Prestige, and even (maybe) a quick reference to The Fly. Cronenberg successfully channels the spirit of late-period JG Ballard (in particular his novels Cocaine Nights and Super-Cannes).
Skarsgård does a great job of losing his mind, and Mia Goth is demonically babyish as the little devil that leads him astray. Shout out to for Thomas Kretschmann who does a lot with a comparatively small role as a jail official named Thresh.
Dan Martin’s effects work is also once again grade-A stuff; after his stellar input on Possessor he gets chances here to portray a drug-up orgy in which body parts emerge from other, quite unexpected body parts – plus a very crunchy/pulpy fist fight. This man really does know how to bring the gloop (and shattered teeth) to practical effects.
I loved this trip into the darkness, with all its existential dread, and can’t wait for Cronenberg’s next project – which is, apparently, a direct adaptation of Ballard’s Super-Cannes, which would make a great thematic double-bill with ‘Pool. Come on in, the water’s depersonalising!
Infinity Pool is out on Friday in the US, and in March in the UK. The Sundance Film Festival is ongoing.