‘Infinity Pool’ Doubles Down on Every Single One of Its Indulgences

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I Love You Times Infinity (CREDIT: NEON)

Starring: Alexander Skarsgård, Mia Goth, Cleopatra Coleman, Jalil Lespert, Thomas Kretschmann, Amanda Brugel

Director: Brandon Cronenberg

Running Time: 117 Minutes

Rating: R for Nearly X-Rated Levels of Nudity, Sadistic Violence, and Hard Drug Use Amidst a Series of Potentially Seizure-Inducing Flashing Lights

Release Date: January 27, 2022 (Theaters)

What’s It About?: Writer James Foster (Alexander Skarsgård) and his rich wife Em (Cleopatra Coleman) are on vacation at some resort, where everything seems just a little bit … off. ATVs zip around with impunity, capturing a slight hint of lawlessness. But strap in tight, because soon enough, everything will feel completely off and there will be an all-encompassing specter of lawlessness. James and En are guided down this path by fellow vacationers Gabi (Mia Goth) and Alban (Jalil Lespert), who promise them fun, but instead lead them right into the crosshairs of the law. A horrible accident has James facing the death penalty, but he’s offered an out. You see, on this resort, cloning technology exists, so instead, James can witness (and revel in) the execution of his double. It’s an easy choice, but soon enough, he finds himself caught within a labyrinth of doubles that it might be impossible to escape from.

What Made an Impression?: “Infinity Pool” sounds like a brand of hot tub, doesn’t it? And that’s appropriate, because Infinity Pool the movie feels like something that was cooked up by someone who fell asleep in a hot tub for a whole night (or maybe a whole year). But knowing writer-director Brandon Cronenberg, this mindfuck energy is just a fundamental part of his DNA. (It runs in the family.) The whole affair is an orgy of blood flashing lights (as well as a literal orgy) that may very well also be a dream. A deep, nightmarish, wonderfully satisfying dream. Every twist and turn regarding James and his doubles paradoxically feels like both a relief and a further descent into madness.

Serving as the ringleader of this twisted paradise, Cronenberg has opted for the perfect muse in the form of Mia Goth. Fresh off the one-two 2022 punch of X and Pearl, she’s been set loose once again on an unsuspecting public. Her wails of “Jaaaaaaaaaaaaames!” as she leans out the side of a convertible is the freshest earworm of the moment.

There were times during my journey through Infinity Pool that I was hoping for a logical explanation of what exactly was going on. Had James secretly planned this all from the beginning? Was it some sort of simulation? It’s a tricky task to nail that sort of reveal, but when done right, it’s immensely satisfying. But Cronenberg is much more interested in nailing the vibes of it all, and understandably so, because the vibes that he conjures are unforgettable. Infinity Pool is not for the faint of heart, or the faint of libido, or the faint of anything really, but when it all comes together, it’s also oddly serene. I emerged from a new cocoon disturbed, but also comforted.

Infinity Pool is Recommended If You Like: Resident Evil (The clone parts), The Game, Masks, Blinding colors

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Doubles

Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 10/2/20

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Hubie Halloween (CREDIT: Scott Yamano/Netflix)

Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

Movies
Possessor (Select Theaters) – Body horror from Brandon Cronenberg.
Hubie Halloween (October 7 on Netflix) – Adam Sandler in a Halloween movie. Now give him some candy!

TV
Saturday Night Live Season 46 Premiere (October 3 on NBC) – They’re back in Studio 8H!
black-ish Election Special (October 4 on ABC)
The Good Lord Bird Series Premiere (October 4 on Showtime) – Ethan Hawke as John Brown and Daveed Diggs as Frederick Douglass.
Soulmates Series Premiere (October 5 on AMC)
Doctor Who: The Faceless Ones Premiere (October 7 on BBC America)

Music
-William Shatner, The Blues

Podcasts
With Gourley and Rust (October 2 on Patreon, October 9 on all other platforms) – Matt Gourley and Paul Rust talking horror movies.

‘Possessor’ Review: The Cronenbergian Energy is Strong with This One

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Possessor (CREDIT: Neon)

Starring: Andrea Riseborough, Christopher Abbott, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tuppence Middleton, Sean Bean, Rossif Sutherland

Director: Brandon Cronenberg

Running Time: 104 Minutes

Rating: Unrated (with R-Level Gore, Sex, and Disturbia)

Release Date: October 2, 2020 (Select Theaters and Drive-Ins)

Human beings are not meant to house two brains in one head. We’ve seen it attempted in various sci-fi movies, and it never works out peacefully. In Possessor, the result is about as rancorous as it’s ever been. Tasya Vos (Andrea Riseborough) is a brilliant assassin, and like a lot of brilliant assassins, her days are numbered. In her case, that’s because she infiltrates other people’s bodies while committing the deeds and her latest host, corporate drone Colin Tate (Christopher Abbott), is violently resisting her presence. If you’re in the mood for some internal body horror, you’ve come to the right place.

Possessor was written and directed by Brandon Cronenberg, son of body horror master David Cronenberg, and the maxim “like father, like son” certainly applies here. A sex scene is intercut with a stabbing, while a murder sequence features close-ups of an eyeball and teeth getting poked out with a fire poker. You can imagine that this is the kind of movie that the senior Cronenberg would have been making had he come of age during a more digitized era. Which is all to say, Brandon is proudly carrying on the family tradition. With Possessor, he paints us a picture of how violent and blood-splattered it can get when a host fights off a virus. It’s disturbing physically, psychologically, and ethically, but all presented so wonderfully baroquely that you can’t help but be entranced.

Possessor is most satisfying with its aesthetic accomplishments. Various sequences are presented in a monochromatic palette, and a varying monochrome at that. Some mustard yellow here, some blood red there, all contributing to a beautifully distorted sense of reality. One eternally unforgettable image is the mask of Tasya (as seen on the poster) that Colin is attempting to rid himself of, thus conveying a slippery lack of separation between the physical and the mental. The plot is a little harder to parse, but it has enough suspenseful intrigue to keep you engaged. There’s some dialogue that’s difficult to make out, especially from the mumble-prone Abbott, but I imagine that that may be intentional. Possessor feels like exactly the sort of movie that wants you to lean in for you to hear it only to then throw the next highly shocking image right in your face. To which I say, keep leaning in.

Possessor is Recommended If You Like: Devs, Videodrome, The bathhouse fight in Eastern Promises

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Assassinations