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Infinity Pool

Infinity Pool, 2023

James (Alexander Skarsgård) is a stalled out novelist on vacation in a fictional island resort with his wife, Em (Cleopatra Coleman). The two befriend hip couple Gabi (Mia Goth) and Alban (Jalil Lespert), who convince them to leave the highly segregated resort for a day out on the island. When things take a bad turn, James learns that both their new friends and the residents of the island are hiding some disturbing secrets.

Following very much in the visual and thematic direction of Possessor, this film combines body horror and social commentary in a dizzying and uncomfortable way.

I think it's a compliment to the development of a film when you can't discuss plot points much past the first 20 minutes because there are so many unexpected turns that the plot takes. Infinity Pool is very much in this category, but there are still some things that can be safely discussed without giving away key plot elements.

On the visual front, this movie is pretty enjoyable, both for the way that it manages to cast the island as lush and scenic but also dangerously removed from the structures that the main characters are accustomed to. And on the other end of things, the effects used related to the body horror elements of the movie are very effective. And by effective, of course, I mean upsetting!, and gross!, and That's not what I expected that nipple to do! I saw in the credits that a stop motion creator was involved in some of the sequences, which left me curious about exactly which pieces those were. If you've seen Possessor some of the parts of the body horror will seem a bit familiar, but I'm not complaining. I thought they were effective then, and I found them effective here.

I also enjoyed a certain aspect of the journey that Skarsgard's character takes, namely that a lot of what we see and how it escalates is driven by a deep down self-loathing. We see many hints of this in the first act, as it becomes clear that James has written one book, has been "writing" his second for years, and is basically fully financially reliant on his wife who can barely conceal her contempt and regret in terms of how their relationship has reached this homeostasis. While other characters in the film seem driven by a sort of "I do it because I can" rich person's pursuit of stimulation, James seems to have a shame and anger about his personal situation that gives his actions (and reactions) a different bent.

In terms of social commentary, the film is pretty overt in how it sees its resort-dwelling characters. They come to a place that is guarded by its own police force and surrounded by barbed wire. They don't hesitate to make comments like saying that the locals are "more like baboons" in terms of how they handle conflict. The idea that lesser people are, essentially, disposable, comes into play in more and more disturbing variations as the film goes on.

I had two hurdles getting into the film, though I should note that both felt less damaging as the film went on. The first was James. Poor, stupid James. James makes such terrible choices. James is so terrible. It doesn't feel quite as bad once things kick off and you can explain away some choices as being because of stress/trauma, but so many bad decisions are made in just the first 15 minutes. I guess you could say that some people just assume nothing bad will ever happen to them, but come on.

I also struggled with Goth's character. I know a lot of men seem to like the whole "grown woman talks like a pouty baby" schtick, but I find it very grating. And don't get me wrong, I get that there's a purpose to how this character is played and all that really matters is that James finds it sexy. But it was a loooooong road for me listening to those line deliveries. Goth does get to cut loose a bit more as the film goes on and I think she did a great job, but fundamentally boy was it hard listening to the sexy toddler routine for two hours.

I don't think I liked this one quite as much as Possessor, but it's still overall very strong. Anchored by Skarsgard's all-in performance as James and some very fun supporting work from the rest of the cast. Shoutout to Coleman's performance that will undoubtedly be less talked about because of the fireworks from the rest of the characters. I always respect a horror film when
WARNING: spoilers below
there's a character who is like "This is messed up! We should leave!" and then when the other person won't go, they're just like "Fine, godspeed!" and peaces out of there.