Spoilers would rather go home.
Okey, I have to think this is no longer a coincidence. There’s been a recent plethora of movies addressing the privilege of the wealthy and powerful, some good, some bad, some worse… and then this came along. I’m glad this feature zooms into the specific privilege of rich tourists that treat poor countries as their vice playground. Often enough, in films where such social inequality is depicted the horror is xenophobic. Despite the fantastic elements, I found this take a lot more honest. We’ll get into it.
Infinity Pool (2023) is written and directed by Brandon Cronenberg. Failed writer James Foster (Alexander Skarsgård) and his wife Em (Cleopatra Coleman) are on vacation overseas in a luxury resort of a fictional foreign country with very strict and draconian laws. After being approached by Gibi Bauer (Mia Goth), who professes to be a fan of James’ only published novel, they join her and her husband Alban (Jalil Lespert) for a night out in the town. The two couples decide to make plans by renting a car and go to a beach outside despite the restrictions against tourists leaving the resort on their own.
At this point, the story seems to be veering towards a love affair as James is obviously attracted to Gibi, and I was really close to just walking away. But then James volunteers to drive them back to the resort in the middle of the night, runs over someone and things suddenly become tense… And interesting. In a relatively short amount of time, James is taken to police station and told he has to be executed. There’s a catch though, he can choose to let them make a double out of him -literally clone him on the spot- and choose to have his clone executed in his place. The whole thing just has an exorbitant price tag.
There is an obvious social commentary here on the privilege visiting the third world and indulging their lowest impulses but the horror here does have a difference. The horror doesn’t come from the foreign culture but it is brought in by the privileged tourists and thrives with the desperation of the dispossessed. This is corruption in its lowest form.
Now it’s not just the turn here that perked up my interest. There’s just something about the way the film tells the story of this descent into a surreal state where the privilege not just get away with murder, they revel in it. When James learns he’s not the only one that has gone through this but he’s now openly invited to join a clique of similarly minded people, he throws himself head over heels into it. This cult-like elite gorge up in misbehavior and throw money at the problem. The level of depravity and darkness is still human, but down to the depths of immorality. And somehow, although you’re not empathizing with anybody, you can’t help but be invested in how bad things get and how it all turns out.
Strongly recommended, flaws and all. I feel the investment and interest come from the way the story is told, making the fall from grace fascinating through storytelling. I also like how we’re not going with the usual scapegoat foreign culture horror but the corruption comes from rich and powerful. The fantastic element is treated fairly a simple plot contrivance which is refreshing. It’s not how it is done, but more if you should. Really worth a watch.
That will do for now.