GORE IN THE STORE
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INFINITY POOL ****
Directed by Brandon Cronenberg.
Starring Alexander Skarsgard, Mia Goth, Cleopatra Coleman.
Horror, Canada, 118 minutes, certificate 18.
Released in cinemas in the UK 24th March by Universal Pictures.
At the beginning of Brandon Cronenberg’s third feature, the phrase “White sand brain death” is muttered repeatedly over a black screen. Though nonsensical it kicks off the disconcerting air that runs through the rest of this disturbing and surreal odyssey into the primal and bloody spiritual awakening one man undergoes after learning of a foreign countries creative loophole relating to their practice of capital punishment.
Said country is the fictional Li Tolqa, where struggling author James Foster is holidaying with his rich, glamorous wife in a gated community which is separated from the strictly orthodox and impoverished natives outside. Looking for inspiration, James soon runs into fellow tourists Gabi and her husband Adam, who take James and his wife for a beach trip outside the gates of the resort. During their late-night return however, James runs over a local farmer and is arrested and sentenced to death, a procedure where the family’s oldest son will enact their vengeance upon the guilty party. James is surprised to learn that for a hefty price he can have an exact copy made of himself to take his place, if he bears witness to “his” own death. Learning that he is not the only one to undergo this surreal practice, James embarks upon a hedonistic and bloodily psychotic journey of self-discovery with his fellow holiday makers.
Whilst retaining certain traits that his father traded in, namely grotesque and punishing imagery of bodies falling apart in numerous ways and the concept of transformation being the most obvious, Brandon Cronenberg strides further and further into making his own reputation as a transgressor of society and the human body. Fans of POSSESSOR will delight in the imagery that has been carried over here, particularly with Jame’s introduction to the procedure of creating his own double. The kaleidoscopic and psychedelic imagery sits neatly with the also familiar conceit of the transformation and/or loss of self-identity that made that previous film so striking.
INFINITY POOL could be even more striking. In terms of sex and violence it edges out its predecessor. What is also present here is a sense of humour, which while blacker than black livens the film and halts it from becoming too punishing with its wave of violence and sex, with an orgy scene that nearly matches Brian Yuzna’s SOCIETY in terms of gloopy and disturbing imagery.
Yet another evolution in the Cronenberg dynasty’s output, there is a lot to recommend here for those with a strong stomach. Unnerving in all the right ways, particularly with Mia Goth’s increasingly unhinged performance arriving just one week after PEARL’s UK release, this Ballardian exercise in excess will definitely go down as one of the year’s most memorable and wicked films.
Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans