“Infinity Pool” is Brandon Cronenberg’s latest science fiction horror film, with loads of body horror elements and sheer decadence. Following a struggling author, James Foster, and his wife, Em, the film presents the couple at a holiday island resort where they are tied up in a murder case, and their lives turn upside down soon after. There are plenty of intriguing elements in “Infinity Pool,” perhaps some that even confuse rather than explain, but the film’s visuals and its overall charm make these elements the most enjoyable parts of it.
‘Infinity Pool’ Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?
James and Em Foster visit a luxurious and expensive vacation resort named Pa Qlqa, located in a fictional island country called La Tolqa. James is or tries to be, a writer by profession, having written just one published book some six years ago and still looking for inspiration and ideas for a second one. It is particularly for this reason that he and Em have come to La Tolqa, hoping that a change of scenery might help. Although Pa Qlqa happens to be a resort regularly visited by rich American and European guests, the rest of La Tolqa still seems underdeveloped and, therefore, dangerous for the guests to visit. It is, in fact, the resort’s strict rules for its guests that they are not allowed to go outside of the grand and organized resort premises. But on the outside lies a country quite ruthless and barbaric in its laws and society, one that is very lucrative for some of the Western guests. One such guest is a young woman named Gabi, and her husband, Alban, who visit the country every year. Introducing herself as a great fan of James’ book, Gabi befriends the couple and invites them to dinner. The next morning, she and Alban decide to drive out into the countryside in a rented car and ask James and Em to join them. Although Em is cautious about the invitation, for it is not even allowed for them to step outside of the resort premises, James already seems impressed and somewhat attracted to Gabi. As Em says, he is just too happy to have found a reader and fan of his work. However, this attraction does turn physical very soon, as Gabi approaches James at their countryside picnic when he is by himself and masturbates him.
Em and Alban have no idea of this development, and the four start to drive back to the resort that evening with James at the wheel of the car. It is during this time that James accidentally hits a local resident on the road, instantly killing him, and the four decide to flee the scene. Although they do make it back to the resort safely that night, the very next morning James and Em are arrested by the police. Taken to the local police station, the whole situation is made very clear to them—James has been found guilty of killing the local farmer, for everyone else had admitted to this. The rule of the country punishes such a crime by letting the eldest son of the victim kill his father’s murderer as an act of revenge. Shocked and scared for his life, James asks for help from the detective, Iral Thrash. It is now that Thrash reveals that La Tolqa also has a unique rule—it allows foreign tourists in such trouble to pay a hefty price and get a clone replica of themselves made, which would be executed in place of them.
How Does James React To This Rule About Making Clones For Execution?
After learning about this strange but helpful rule of the laws of La Tolqa, James does not spend much time deciding to make use of the cloning system. Once he has withdrawn cash from an ATM machine inside the prison and handed it over to the detective, James is taken into a room where he is made to stand in a pool of liquid while flashes of light are strobed on him. Having colors and incoherent images flash through his eyes and mind, James faints at the end of the procedure and wakes up later to see Em beside him. Em informs him that the cloning has been successfully done, and they both go to see it. It is this clone of James that is then put up for execution while the real James and Em have to sit and watch the lawful killing, as it is part of the mandate. A young thirteen-year-old boy, the eldest son of the farmer who was killed, walks up and kills the cloned James with multiple knife stabs. The clone, which is very much like a real human being, calls out to Em in the stands, begging for help and mercy, but is ultimately killed. Em is disgusted by the whole experience and even more so by the fact that her husband did not have a similar reaction, especially since he had essentially watched himself being killed. But James does indeed remain mostly unaffected by the experience of seeing the killing, as he thinks of a very different, unique possibility. “Infinity Pool” is based on the idea of what human beings might be capable of doing when there is no consequence for their crimes. While Em is busy thinking of the more sensitive and emotional side of the experience of seeing her husband’s clone being executed in a court of law, James already starts to think of what might be possible as he could literally pay off all his crimes.
This thought is not unique to James, though, and Em happens to be the only exception, as the couple soon finds out. Gabi meets up with James again and takes him to her and Alban’s place, where they are hosting a small party with friends. All the members of this party are Western tourists who visit La Tolqa every year, and all of them have had the experience of getting a clone made and having it executed on their behalf. Gabi and Alban had gotten involved in a similar situation the previous year when the owner of a resort Alban was designing blamed him for the deaths of two workers. Similarly, each of their friends is a doctor, a daughter of a film producer, or other such wealthy men and women. As it becomes apparent through the film, all these tourists essentially visit La Tolqa every year because the place allows them to exercise their filthy wealth and influence to get away with any crime they want to commit. Along with this group, James goes to the house of the resort owner, who had got Alban into trouble, for they plan to harass the man for sheer entertainment. Of course, Gabi and Alban have a slight reason for wanting revenge, but the others go along only because they can. This plan, which is performed in a drunken and drugged state, goes wrong when all the people at the owner’s house are killed by the guests, and Alban also gets shot. James now shows his complete involvement with such people as he takes the man to his resort in order to help him out. Like always, the police arrest each of them the next day, and they are all ordered to be executed. Once again, each of them gets away with the power of American dollars, as clones are made of them and executed in their place.
Em has had enough of this by now, and she leaves the resort, flying back to the USA. She had planned to do so earlier along with James, but the man had lost his passport. As it becomes clear towards the end, James had hidden his passport, as he did not want to leave the place without taking advantage of the cloning facility. Once his wife leaves the place, suggesting an end to their marriage as well, James becomes all the more involved in the lecherous revelry of the group of tourists, which includes taking drugs, indulging in grand orgies, and killing whoever they want to, all of which are illegal in the land. While the rest of the group still puts up the pretense of being civilized in front of the other guests at the resort, James lets everything go, harassing the guests and locals in whatever way he wants, knowing that there is no punishment for any of his crimes.
What Was Gabi’s Real Intention When She Tried To Get James On Their Side?
James seems to be devoid of any moral compass or sense of judgment, but a certain incident shakes him up soon after. The group convinces him that the only reason he cannot leave the country with a fake passport is police detective Iral Thrash, and they all decide to beat the man up. Intoxicated with the local drug that Gabi had introduced to him, James starts thrashing the detective once they successfully bring him to their place. Not only does James use physical violence, but he humiliates the man as well, urinating on him to show the dominance of an American man even in this current world. However, the fact that this man’s face is hidden behind a mask does not make James suspicious, and he goes by the man’s uniform, which is that of the police. As it turns out, the rich friend’s group was only playing a practical joke on James—they had paid detective Thrash to get another clone of James made, which they dressed up in police clothes and brought to the scene. James is disgusted at having beaten, tortured, and humiliated himself, and he wants to end the whole debauchery. The next morning, he tries to leave the resort but is stopped mid-way by Gabi and the group of friends. They refuse to let James get out of the country and get him off the tourist bus, which had been on the way to the airport. Making him walk in front of their cars with a gun held at him, Gabi now reveals her real intention.
While we watch James experience the moral corruption he does for the first time ever in his life, Gabi, Alban, and the rest of their friends are veterans of this practice. They have been accustomed to this practice for some time now and are always on the lookout for potential new tourists to add to their group. Gabi now explains that she had never read James’ novel and had only found out about it on the internet. Sensing a potential in James to be exactly like them without any moral restrictions or inhibitions, Gabi had wanted to make James a part of their group and had therefore approached him as a fan. The reason for this approach was nothing more than to simply entertain themselves by having a new member who would go about partaking in similar morally degrading activities as they would. In fact, James was a great fit for them—the man had himself landed in trouble without the group’s intervention when he ran over the farmer while driving under influence. Even more entertaining was the fact that James was a new member of this elusive group and was, therefore, still within his moral boundaries. While everything else suited him fine, James was still disturbed by the idea of causing his own clones harm. He tries to escape from the group and gets shot in the leg before finding shelter in a local house. After hours of hallucinations, he steps out of the house and finds that Gabi and her group have been waiting for him all this time. They now want him to kill a “dog,” which is basically another clone of James that has been groomed to act like a dog. James refuses to do so but has to fight it when the clone attacks him. This act is almost like a ritualistic introduction to letting himself go because, as he starts hitting his own clone, James does not stop easily and literally bashes his head in with repeated heavy punches.
This act is followed by something even more bizarre: as James breaks down and falls to the ground, with his clone lying dead in front, Gabi runs to him and consoles him. Taking some blood from the clone’s body, Gabi then smears her breast with it and offers to breastfeed James, and he quickly agrees. This marks the end of James as he was and is perhaps symbolic of the birth of a new, decadent self, one without any moral boundaries and limits. Along with everything else, Gabi also expresses what seems to be a sexual pleasure or arousal in seeing James commit some violence or crime throughout the film, and this final act is also an ultimate expression of this attraction. Now that James has completely given in, Gabi offers herself totally, in perhaps the most bizarre but symbolic manner. The whole situation of James, with the moralities of Em, can also be looked at through a lens of Freudian psychoanalysis, as James is originally restrained and civil like the Ego. On one side is the lascivious and young Gabi, who represents the desires and base instincts that the Id brings along. On the other side is his wife, Em, with her set of morals and judgments intact even after going through the experience, much like the Super-Ego. But once Em and the Super-Ego go out of the scene, the Ego is gradually drawn to the Id and corrupted by it. There are fights and obstructions that James puts up, but he ultimately gives in to the instinctive desires and pleasures with no morality check.
‘Infinity Pool’ Ending Explained: Why Does James Not Leave The Island?
After the events of the night, when James kills his own clone, the vacation for everyone seems to be over. The Pa Qlqa resort had earlier been mentioned as staying operational until the arrival of the monsoon season when it closes down and the monsoon finally arrives. James, Gabi, Alban, and all the other members of their group, along with other foreign guests, are ready to leave. On the bus taking them to the airport, everyone other than James behaves all natural and normal, as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened to them during the vacation. Now that their vacation was over, the decadent revelry and the mindset that allowed them to do so were now buried beneath the moralities that automatically exist once an act has consequences. Gabi and the rest of the group would definitely return to the island the next year to continue their wild parties of sex and murder, but for now, it was time to get back to their lives. James, however, does not board the plane back to Los Angeles, and he instead returns to the closed resort, sitting by the beach getting drenched by the heavy monsoon rains, looking distraught and empty from within.
Unlike the rest of the foreign visitors, James still seems uncomfortable at the thought of going back to his normal life. He seems unable to get used to this switch between decadence and having to abide by moral and legal laws, and his decision to stay back can be perceived as his wish to continue committing crimes without any consequence. It can also be looked at as the man realizing the extent of his activities in the last few days and realizing that he cannot internally make an attempt to return to the USA. A possible question regarding whether it was the original James leaving the country or one of his clones can also be raised. But the matter of fact is that James had been cloned too many times by now to actually keep track of who was actually leaving, and “Infinity Pool” does not seem interested in such a dilemma either. In the form of a science fiction thriller, the film presents a visually appealing and intriguing stir-up of ideas regarding morality and consequence. While James had come to the vacation in search of ideas and motivation for his new novel, he was now left with no soul or conscience, or at most, a severely broken one.
“Infinity Pool” is a 2023 Drama Thriller film directed by Brandon Cronenberg.