While on holiday in the fictional country Li Tolqa, struggling writer James and his wife Em befriend another couple, Gabi and Albin. On an excursion outside the strict designated tourist area, there is an accident involving a local. This sets off a series of questionable actions and events, with James left to cope with his what he has done and witnessed.
Director Brandon Cronenberg's previous films, Antiviral and Possessor both had a narrative and substance, but his latest is all the latter. Generating a disgust in the pit of your stomach, the unnerving discovery of this fictional country is the least of the horrors displayed on screen. Our would-be hero (or possible victim) of the story may just be as deluded as the gang of tourists he joins, hungry for inspiration for his next book. But he underestimates their own hunger for destruction. This alludes to the saying that is often portrayed in films of this genre, horror is other people. James' morbid curiosity is what leads to his downfalls and the discovery of the true nature and intentions of Gabi and the rest of the tourist group.
There are many ideas at play here, including the dark secrets that dwell within the walls of the administration building. The country itself must hold further secrets but these are not explored. There are ideas about wealth and how this group of tourists seem to be able to pay for doubles more than once, money is no object. There is the idea that if we are pushed enough, we are readily able and willing to commit crimes and violate others. There is a sadistic pack mentality within the tourist group that is, at first an intriguing part of the film but by the latter half, falls flat. There is excitement and energy that the first half the film that the second part of the film cannot keep up with. Where there are some humorous parts, those of the blackest and darkest comedy, but this is only a small reward.
Lightly touching upon Li Tolqa's dark secret and deadly effort to continue to encourage tourism, the actual doubling process is only seen once. The science fiction element of the film is the most fascinating but is not the focus, which is a shame. The hints to the history of the doubling practice and there being more to it than what we get to seen is not enough to satisfy curiosity. Though a reason to not develop this part of the story is of course to focus on the effect it has on people, discovering their nature they adopt when on holiday in this country. But this narrative has been seen in many films of the same genre before.
It's difficult to accept what Cronenberg has created as it is unclear what he is trying to convey through this film. Not going into depth on the science fiction and turning more inwards to psychological horror is still in his wheelhouse but you can't help but feel he could have taken this story in a completely different direction. Infinity Pool does entertain, at least for the first half, but loses its way in favour of further shocks and feels quite anticlimactic, especially when there was nothing mysterious about the tourist group picking on James. There is no sense of satisfaction with how the story progresses and just a feeling of missed opportunities.
Infinity Pool will be released in UK cinemas on 24th March