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Blood, sex, and biting sarcasm are all over the screen in Infinity Pool.

2023-01-25  Sophia Zackary

Infinity is the best foreign-set horror satire about Americans (and Brits, and one Austrian) since Hostel is Infinity Pool. Brandon Cronenberg's sequel to Possessor (2020) has received a lot of attention for its depiction of depravity, which is justified: The psychedelic orgy sequence is prolonged, the nudity is full-frontal, and the squibs are juicy. But all of the blood, sex, and urine have a very serious point.

The Pa Qlqa Pearl Princess resort's visitors are not allowed to leave the "complex," which is surrounded by barbed-wire gates, on the fictitious island nation of La Tolqua. Moreover, why would they? Its Chinese restaurant and Bollywood dance performances may be found in the coastal paradise of Pa Qlqa. Tourists can feel like they are enjoying an "international experience" in the environment of Infinity Pool without having to communicate with anyone who doesn't speak English because it is a simulation of the real world. All over the place and nowhere at the same time, it's the ultimate tourist economy.

A place losing its identity inevitably loses its inhabitants' humanity as well. That is the allure for a darker group of Pa Qlqa regulars who come to the island deliberately to benefit from a law that permits outsiders to get away with any of the numerous crimes that in La Tolqua carry the death penalty. All capital offences, including blasphemy, drug possession, and murder, are pardonable for the correct sum of money. (This is such a widespread practice that the police department has an ATM just for payout withdrawals.) Because of this, Americans like Gabi (Mia Goth), Alban (Jalil Lespert), and their pals can treat La Tolqua like a playground where nothing is off-limits for hedonistic enjoyment.

There is a swinger vibe about Gabi and Alban. (The tell-tale sign is indiscriminate cuddling.) And indeed, they employ the "we spotted you across the bar" type of trick—only this time, it's "I read your book"—to entice married couple James (Alexander Skarsgard) and Em (Cleopatra Coleman) into their hedonistic lifestyle. James is a struggling author who has travelled to La Tolqua in quest of "inspiration." It has been six years since the publication of his first (and final) book. Em's wealthy father supports the couple's lifestyle. Though not in the manner they had anticipated, they will receive it.

James and Em consent to tag along with Gabi and Alban on a covert excursion outside of the resort and into the countryside of La Tolqua, a peculiar fusion of a tropical paradise and a decaying industrial state in the late Soviet style. Let's just say that after the outing, James and Em end up being questioned by Detective Thresh (Thomas Kretschmann) in the dilapidated concrete bunker that houses La Tolqua police headquarters. The country's policy of getting out of jail free has a sci-fi element, which is best not revealed here. To again yadda-yadda beyond the specifics, the procedure blows James' mind and leaves Em in a state of complete shock, creating a conflict that is then compounded by Gabi's aggressive sexual attempts toward James.

The year 2022 was a significant one for Mia Goth, who via her dual parts in Ti West's X and Pearl appears to have discovered her niche as an actor. There is currently no one in the game who can laugh maniacally while firing a gun quite like Mia Goth, and throughout the movie, Cronenberg makes use of her talent for insane shouting. She performs in a similarly demented register. While Goth plays the crazy domme, Skarsgard plays the sub, going past his character's initial discomfort to a primal zone outside of morality and restraint. Gabi and her companions routinely describe La Tolquans as "animals," even though they act anomalistically themselves. He crawls on all fours while wearing a dog collar, spits maraschino cherries at the repulsed resort guests, and his eyes glaze over.

With the use of the drug "ekki gate," which Gabi promises James is the sole hallucinogen permitted in La Tolqua, Infinity Pool spirals out into bodily horror as its decadence becomes more hallucinogenic. She claims that "it's a religious thing." This story device draws a revealing comparison between Americans visiting South America to try ayahuasca. And the sex acts are: Hedonism II, a brand of hotels in Jamaica, markets itself as a location where couples can go to indulge in their most extreme erotic dreams while remaining safe within the resort. The film also deals with toxic masculinity and the desire of "domesticated" Western men to "free themselves" through violence and oppression. This theme is particularly relevant in light of Andrew Tate's recent arrest for human trafficking in Romania, one of those "fake" nations where American men are free to do whatever they want.

Dark, biting humour, many of which will have you laughing aloud, abounds in Cronenberg's writing for Infinity Pool. (Early on, Gabi claims to be an actor who excels at "failing naturally" in ads.) Even the Leatherface-like masks featured in the trailer have a dual purpose, heightening the sense of depersonalization and symbolising the commodification of indigenous traditions. There are a lot of strange elements in this film, but they all have a purpose. The plot's inevitable climax from the minute everything is disclosed is the one drawback. Of course, a convoluted narrative framework would have rendered Infinity Pool challenging to follow because the movie is so garnished with shiny, violent decorations. The message is obvious as it stands: The worst thing an American (or any other country) can be is a numbed-out whirlwind of bottomless entitlement.


2023-01-25  Sophia Zackary