From the minute the 2023 Sundance Film Festival lineup dropped, everyone was talking about “Infinity Pool.” Brandon Cronenberg’s third feature featured everything that a horror fan could possibly want: a darkly comic premise, stylish cinematography and production design, and a performance by newly-minted scream queen Mia Goth. The film, which follows a writer and his rich wife as they attend a lavish resort with a potentially lethal dark side, immediately shot to the top of every scary movie lover’s list of films to check out.
After its buzzy premiere, it immediately became clear that “Infinity Pool” wasn’t the kind of film that anyone could neatly categorize, as it blends elements of a variety of artistic styles. Cronenberg and his stars Mia Goth, Alexander Skarsgard, and Cleopatra Coleman stopped by the IndieWire Studio at Sundance, presented by Dropbox, to discuss the nuances of the genre-bending film.
“It’s partly horror, but there’s an element of dry humor to it as well,” Cronenberg said. “I don’t know if anybody will find it funny. Sometimes I think my movies are gonna be funny and then it’s explained to me that they’re not actually funny.”
Cronenberg added that while the film’s opulent setting makes comparisons to other wealth satires like “The White Lotus” and “The Menu” seem natural, he was interested in commenting on a lot more than just the rich.
“It’s part of the film, but I don’t think it’s completely central to the film in the way that ‘White Lotus’ or ‘Triangle of Sadness’ is,” Cronenberg said. “It sort of expanded to take on other themes.”
Skarsgård explained that he plays a novelist who married into a wealthy family, but has been unable to find any inspiration despite the vast resources at his disposal.
“James is a writer, he’s written one novel, it wasn’t well-received,” Skarsgård said. “It was published by her father. But he’s been stuck, he’s had writers block ever since. It’s been six years, and he hasn’t been able to write anything. In an almost desperate attempt to find some sort of inspiration, they decide to go to this resort. And it’s horrible, it’s still not right, he’s constantly procrastinating and finding excuses.”
But everything changes, for better or worse, when James meets Gabi (Goth), a woman at the resort who was mesmerized by his book.
“That is, to this wounded broken ego, it’s exactly what James needs,” he said. “Just a little bit of recognition.”
Goth explained that there is much more to Gabi than meets the eye at first, and she ends up using James as a pawn in her own twisted game that she’s played at this resort many times before.
“This resort really ends up providing Gabi something really necessary in an otherwise empty life,” Goth said. “By the time she meets James, this is actually something she has done multiple times. James is just the latest of her victims. This resort has provided a stage for her to perform and present herself in many different ways and be many different characters. When I first read the script, she even fooled me. I thought she was going to be one thing, I thought I was getting ready to read one sort of story, and she completely had me fooled. She was such a wild character to play.”