Midnight movies at Sundance never fail to generate some shock and awe. Whether it’s gore, torture porn or graphic sex, the horror that unfolds knocks audiences for six and reverberates almost instantly around the world. Here, then, is the latest outing from Canadian auteur Brandon Cronenberg, his third after 2020’s Possessor and 2012’s Antiviral, ready to be unleashed.
We begin with James (Alexander Skarsgård) and his wife Em (Cleopatra Coleman) touching down for some R&R at a luxury resort in a dystopian Eastern Europe. He’s struggling to write (it’s been six long years since his debut). She’s bankrolling their life (daddy owns the publishing house). When another guest, the sultry Gabi (Mia Goth) and her architect husband, Alban (Jalil Lespert), invite the pair out for an illicit trip to the beach, James finds his life spiraling out of control as he tosses any shred of self-discipline out the door.
Fans of The White Lotus (and Triangle of Sadness) will devour this sci-fi-comedy-horror with glee, as Cronenberg unashamedly cranks up the ante on tourists behaving badly. James is guilty of a late-night hit and run. The only way out: to pay to be cloned by the police, so the victim’s family can have him executed without diplomatic relations souring with the US. For Gabi and Alban, and their coterie of friends, it’s a price worth paying. After all, their vacation’s one, long, mind-bending party – complete with hallucinogens and orgies, and a few local casualties along the way.
Fans of TV’s The White Lotus will devour this sci-fi-comedy-horror with glee
Cronenberg’s reading of the current mood towards the super-rich is razor sharp. Few would argue with his cinematic depiction of their worst excesses. Bret Easton Ellis (and Kubrick with Eyes Wide Shut) gave us glimpses of this before, of course – but nothing on this scale.
There’s plenty to send the faint-hearted and the prudish bolting for the exit: gore galore, an ejaculating penis and enough group sex to leave you exhausted. It’s no wonder Skarsgård (who, like Goth, is on fire here) looks spent by the end – especially so soon after The Northman. It’s one hell of a twisted ride with a troupe of truly awful characters as our guide. It’s damn-near unmissable and, from a safe distance, addictive as all hell.
Infinity Pool premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. In US theaters Jan 27 and UK cinemas Mar 24.