Brandon Cronenberg’s third feature film, Infinity Pool, comes three years after his disturbing film Possessor. Although his sophomore feature feels like a blend of science fiction and horror, Cronenberg’s appetite for the combination evaporates in Infinity Pool. Science fiction in particular provides a gimmicky backdrop rather than fully integrated plot devices to explore questions about wealth, power, life, death, and sex.
Throughlines in Infinity Pool act as repeated patterns in the reality-distorting system of a kaleidoscope. The secondary characters are barely recognizable as human beings, destroyed by the hubris of the protagonist, James (played by Alexander Skarsgård), and the people he chooses to make part of his life. It’s entertaining to recognize the film’s small symbols: a painted cheek, a mask, a gun, a car, a very Cronenbergian sequence of neon colors, pulsating music, and nudity that blend dreams and reality. Each artistic choice plays into a different idea, overflowing the audience’s minds with the questions and critiques the symbols raise.
The film grapples with the classic questions of science fiction: would your clone deserve the same humanity you are entitled to? At what point does a copy begin to exist in its own right? Although it tackles an intriguing topic, the film squeezes it into two hours of hedonism as the characters exploit the doubling process. Ultimately, the film does too much for its own good.
Infinity Pool is not for the faint of heart. The gore is intense and there is not quite enough of a barrier between the screen and reality, leaving a sickeningly real taste of sadomasochistic participation in your mouth. Infinity Pool might be worth seeing for Cronenberg family enthusiasts, but for anyone else, choosing to pass is more than understandable.