Review: ‘Infinity Pool’ is a style-over-substance indie film that fails to impress

Infinity Pool is a Brandon Cronenberg psychological thriller that was met with positive reception, but it wasn’t my cup of tea. The film stars Alexander Skarsgård, who plays the protagonist, James Foster, and Mia Goth, who plays Gabi. Both actors have received high praise from many critics for their performances in the film, and I agree that both Skarsgard and Goth give exceptional performances. However, upon my second rewatch of this film, I realized that their performances weren’t enough for me to change my opinion on this film. Roger Moore for Movie Nation praised Infinity Pool as a violent, hallucinatory thriller; however, I think this is another style-over-substance indie film that failed to impress or interest me.

The story of Infinity Pool

There are spoilers ahead for Infinity Pool.

When James is first introduced into the film, he is going on vacation as a way to relax because the general public hates the book he wrote. His wife, Em (Cleopatra Coleman), doesn’t even like him and, at one point in the film, refers to him as a charity case. The biggest catalyst in the film is when James accidentally runs over a local farmer and kills him. The couple leaves the scene of the crime, not reporting what he’s done. 

James is arrested the next morning, and he is told that the crime he committed is punishable by death. But he is presented with a choice – he can take his punishment or let his clone take the punishment. (This is where Cronenberg’s sci-fi sensibilities come in.) He decides to go with the alternative, and the clone is stabbed by the eldest child of the farmer he killed. James and Em watch this happen, and James is inducted into a secret club. It is a group of people who dubbed themselves “zombies” because they have also watched their clones take their punishment for crimes they’ve committed on the island.

The film has a very strong idea, and it’s not something that has been done before. Skarsgård’s James is a man who gets a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity into the depraved world of the entitled wealthy who face no consequences for their wrongdoing. It emboldens them to live life as if they are untouchable. But he realizes that he is not one of them. James is actually their plaything. 

An “eat the rich” satire that fails to relay the message effectively

As I was watching Infinity Pool, I was trying to understand the underlying message of this film. Is this an examination of an insecure, mediocre white man who is duped into thinking that he’s special? There’s nothing remarkable about James. His only accomplishment is his biggest failure. The general public dislikes the book he wrote and published. His wife constantly undermines him and he was only able to stay longer at the resort by using her money.

James gets a rise out of treating the locals like baboons, as Gabi refers to them, only to find out that he’s basically Marcel in the eyes of the Zombies. This movie is another “eat the rich” satire, but it fails to relay that message to the viewer. It’s an unnerving look at the lengths wealthy people will take to avoid taking responsibility for their actions and abuse this power whenever they get a chance. 

As compared to White Lotus and Triangle of Sadness

Infinity Pool has been compared to the HBO show White Lotus, but I think White Lotus doesn’t really condemn rich people. But that’s not the point of the prestige show. There is a clear line drawn in the sand of White Lotus. We can see who is at the top of the pyramid and who is at the bottom of the pyramid. The show is layered and explores tourism/resort culture vs native culture, race, wealth inequality, boss/employee dynamics and so many other things.

Another film I would compare Infinity Pool to is Triangle of Sadness. It is a film where the uber-wealthy and social elite board a ship to sail the seas, only for there to be a huge disaster that changes the course of the trip and the film as well. Triangle of Sadness shows how beauty and wealth can provide capital, but if the tables were turned, practical skills are a lot more vital. 

But one thing that both White Lotus and Triangle of Sadness have that Infinity Pool lacks are relatable or recognizable characters. White Lotus does a great job of creating various characters – from an upper-middle-class mother who hails Hilary Clinton as a saint and dismisses her politically minded daughter and her friend, to a young couple on a honeymoon with but with the husband clearly controlling and narcissistic. In Triangle of Sadness, the film begins with examining Carl and Yaya’s relationship because Yaya believes Carl should pay for meals even though she makes more than him. This prompts interesting conversations about gender roles and expectations in relationships. Triangle of Sadness’ characters are carefully crafted to represent certain traits that can be attributed to people you follow on social media or know in real life. 

The characters in this film are not likeable

For Infinity Pool, there aren’t any likable characters. Of course, you can make a movie with unlikeable characters, but there have to be some redeeming qualities about them. My favorite example is Succession. Everyone on that show is pretty unlikeable, but you can find one or two people you like more than other characters. 

Skarsgård’s James is utterly pathetic and annoying throughout the movie. He becomes delighted when he sees that he’s literally gotten away with murder and has caught the attention of the mysterious and sexy Gabi. It’s also very disappointing because there’s no real development for James’ character. He gives in to the revelry of the zombies and gleefully joins in on their perverse and violent excursions. They even mistreat other resort guests and workers there just because they can. It’s clear that he was never someone who had really hard, strong morals with how quickly those flew out the window. He joins the creepy Zombie Club and only pulls back after realizing they don’t see him as an equal. If he had ended up assaulting the detective instead of a clone of himself, he would have never left. He would have stayed in the club. 

Final thoughts on Infinity Pool

People are drawn to Infinity Pool because Alexander Skarsgård and Mia Goth are phenomenal actors, and I think they did a great job in this film. It’s interesting to see Skarsgård  fully give himself to being unhinged in this film. Mia Goth has a magnetic quality about her that elevates the film just on her performance alone. In conclusion, I can see why people like this movie. The story is definitely original, and Brandon Cronenberg focuses more on the mind and soul rather than the physical human body, like his father, David Cronenberg. In my opinion, Infinity Pool is a gaudy movie with overdrawn, disoriented trip scenes, unnecessary nudity, and excessive gore and bodily fluids that don’t make up for poorly written characters and a half-hearted ending.

Infinity Pool is now streaming.

Infinity Pool is now streaming. Check it out however you like to watch your movies.

Have you already seen it yet? What did you think? Do you agree with Manika’s thoughts? Join the conversation by leaving a comment on this review, or by getting in touch with us on X @MoviesWeTexted.

If you’re interested in more thrillers, check out all of our thriller reviews and coverage, including a review of Anatomy of a Fall.