Movies Like Infinity Pool (2023): The “Eat the Rich” thematic narrative had been the slogan primarily associated with class warfare and anti-capitalism. An objective viewpoint would suggest that this narrative has primarily been associated with wealth inequality and food shortage. The usage of the slogans increased dramatically following the pandemic and the COVID-19 lockdowns, where class resentment towards the top one-percenters or the skewed distribution of wealth causes righteous anger or apathy from the middle class.
This strike down against privilege is finally getting a big boost from today’s entertainment, none more so than in Infinity Pool and in some of the movies like Infinity Pool listed in this article.
Brandon Cronenberg’s sophomore directorial effort, after his brilliant debut, centers on this “Eat the Rich” Narrative but adds layers upon layers of genre trappings over it. It follows a struggling writer and his wealthy wife on a beach vacation on the fictional island of La Tolqa until a fatal accident reveals the perverse underbelly enjoyed by La Tolqa’s tourists, the incredibly wealthy, who turn the island into a hedonistic nightmare. The “Eat the Rich” narrative is stacked with science fiction tropes, horror elements, body horror recalling Cronenberg’s illustrious father’s filmography, and even neon-tinged hallucinogenic nightmares.
It isn’t easy to craft a list of movies like Infinity Pool because of the innumerable premises present within this potpourri of a film. Still, the hope is that this would encapsulate all of the themes of the movie while allowing itself to be unique enough list. This won’t follow a ranking but is listed to encourage viewing if you are inclined to explore.
Honourable Mention – The White Lotus Season 1 (2021)
The White Lotus is perhaps the most obvious choice of the “Eat the Rich” narrative. As envisioned by series creator Mike White, it followed a week in the life of the ultra-wealthy as they travel to enjoy a vacation of luxury in a tropical resort for a week. The show, through its sharp writing and satirical bent, and deeply unlikeable yet compelling characters explored the themes of imperialism, classism, and a general cavalier attitude towards the service industry.
The first season highlighted the constantly shifting moral compass of these characters while navigating through a murder mystery narrative. The pressure is attributed to the marginalized groups and the working class due to the inherent power of wealth and, thus, the wealthy hold. Thus Season 1 mainly focused on the power dynamics of relationships as a result of wealth.
It couldn’t be included in the list of movies like Infinity Pool, even with all of its apparent similarities, because of its structure. Season 1 of The White Lotus is a miniseries comprising ten episodes. Still, the longer cumulative runtime helps the exploration of themes while balancing out a healthy dose of comedy with tragedy and drama.
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6. Possessor (2021)
In an intriguing opening sequence, Holly, played with surprising depth by newcomer Gabrielle Graham, injects an implant on the back of her head. She then slowly walks through a sea of people towards her mark and, with blistering speed, kills him by slashing a butter knife through his neck.
Then she starts almost butchering the already dead man, and after that bloody deed is done, she pulls out a gun and points it towards the back of her mouth but fails to pull the trigger. Not relying too much on the hesitating moment, she points the gun and shoots the oncoming security, and in response, her body is riddled with bullets to a bloody end. Elsewhere, Tasya Vos, a bleach-blonde-haired woman, disconnects herself from a machine that was connecting her to the now-deceased Holly.
Brandon Cronenberg, within those first 10 minutes, establishes a world where corporate assassins take over unsuspecting marks’ mindscape, and then that mark under control kills the target. However, within this fantastical central conceit, Cronenberg takes a more cerebral approach, dealing with identity, free will, and empathy, grounding a person. A similar form of cerebral approach, more focused on the inward aspects of his characters, exists in Infinity Pool.
While there are elements of body horror and science-fiction concepts, the kitschy sort of humor and a glamorizing of body dysmorphia is absent. Instead of exploring the deformities and rot of the body and the horror caused as a result, Brandon Cronenberg almost goes in the opposite direction of his father. Both Possessor and Infinity Pool explore the soul, the power of individualism, and the rot within, which couldn’t be excised out or re-inserted within but can only fester. The horror expands, as a result, of said festering.
5. Dual (2022)
The interesting mixtures and themes within Infinity Pool ensure that a list comprising movies like Infinity Pool would have space to explore one of these premises in its form. Infinity Pool uses the concept of cloning as a method of escaping punishment via death. It is never entirely said outright, but wealthy tourists are given this option to exculpate themselves and live a life of contented debauchery while vacationing.
Riley Stearns’ future takes that same basic science fiction concept of cloning and imagines a world where creating a clone as an alternative to help family members cope with the loss of an individual becomes a norm. Stearns, unlike Cronenberg, takes that concept and uses it as a bleak, dark morality play, where the clone and the original owner have to fight for the existence of being the unique one.
It is easy as the memories of the clone resemble that of the original until the clone is brought to life. In a similar but violently different fashion, Infinity Pool explores the clones as a narrative device to explore the humanity and characterization of James (Stellan Skarsgard) slipping away. Each of his clones was created to explore a unique chance for James to confront his sadism and slippage of humanity, but as long as James could afford to have clones made, he could avoid it all and continue his hedonism.
Like Dual, the narrative device of cloning was used to explore an alternative method to avoid inevitability, be it loss or punishment, and hold up a mirror, as circumstances force the protagonists to confront them anyway, twisted in form or method they might be.
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4. Bodies Bodies Bodies (2022)
Bodies Bodies Bodies (2022) is about a group of Gen-Z teenagers vacationing in their wealthy friend’s mansion until a hurricane turns the electricity and wifi off, leading them to be cut off from social media and thus the social battery which keeps them fed on validation and superficial relationships. Then they realize that the game they were playing (Bodies Bodies Bodies) turns out to be frighteningly real, as one of their friends gets killed, forcing them to turn on each other.
The class-conscious storytelling forms one of the core themes of director Halina Rejn and screenwriter Sarah DeLappe’s biting satire, which chooses to both takedown Gen-Z and also comment on the class and privilege of these rich kids through the eyes of Bee (Maria Baklova). The rich kids are already filled to the brim with their jealousies and petty issues, which further threaten to bubble to the surface and then explode in a fire of accusations and murder as the kids accuse each other of being the killer. Amidst all of that, Bee is also accused of being the murderer simply on account of being the “poor girl” in the group.
James’ character in Infinity Pool also gets caught within the circle of the ultra-wealthy and the elite, and unlike Bee, becomes something resembling a selfish, hedonistic monster completely oblivious to the reality around him. Like the rich portrayed in Infinity Pool as beautiful people hiding their monstrosity within veneers of privilege and class, the kids of Bodies bodies bodies are all adept in showcasing a sense of omniscience as a result of social media until events in the real world expose the hollowness or the cruelty and sadism within. The revelation in Bodies Bodies Bodies is played for laughs, while Infinity Pool uses the revelation both for literal and metaphorical horror.
3. Ready or Not (2019)
Matt Bettinetti-Olpin and Tyler Gillet’s 2019 horror movie Ready or Not follows a newlywed Grace to Alex Le Domas (Mark O’Brien), the eldest scion of a board-game dynasty. After their vows are sealed, Alex informs Grace of a long-standing tradition: the new addition to the family must play a randomly selected game to seal her entrance to the Le Domas way of life.
Grace draws hide-and-seek—and the cheerful mood at the manse suddenly turns deadly serious. Thanks to the bargain with the literal devil the De Lomas family had made to accumulate their wealth, they had to play hide and seek with medieval weapons, except that the older generation hadn’t played Hide and Seek in years. In comparison, the younger generation hadn’t played at all,
Ready or not could be taken as a chintzy updated version of The Most Dangerous Game (1932). Still, its commentary on class warfare and the sarcastic outlook towards the rich has been played for laughs. Ready or Not shows the inertia experienced by the rich, having been subjected to generational wealth and thus failing to ask questions debating logical fallacies.
More importantly, though, it shows the boredom experienced by the ultra-wealthy and tackles an even bigger challenge. Infinity Pool, too shows the rich undertaking acts of hedonism, cruelty, and debauchery when accountability had been removed from the equation. Hunt for sport becomes the new past-time and the new challenge for the rich to alleviate their boredom, a sentiment shared by both the ultra-rich characters of “Ready or Not” and “Infinity Pool.”
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2. Glass Onion – A Knives Out Mystery (2022)
A prevalent thing in both Knives Out and Glass Onion – A Knives Out Mystery is Johnson’s unabashed love for the genre itself. While subversion is an undesirable word with a highly negative connotation (especially with regards to Johnson), here, the subversion comes from how he structures the whodunnit to a howdunnit to a whydunnit.
The lack of much of a pandemic commentary aside, Glass Onion mines its comedy from the trope of the “eccentric billionaire” and their supporters and turns it on its head, managing to hold a mirror to the “idiot” masked beneath the faulty grammar veneer and bluster. It’s also hilarious how he takes the traditional “detective solving the case in the final act” and doubles down on the exasperation of the detective and the case itself.
It is fascinating as a choice to keep both Blanc, and the viewers on their toes in the first act as the island itself becomes a fish out of water scenario both for Blanc and the audience, serving as a commentary for the eccentric billionaire’s propensity to flaunt their wealth without the proper valuation. Like Infinity Pool, Glass Onion’s perspective towards the rich isn’t a flattering one, choosing to show their propensity to indulge in acts not really accessible or, more importantly, not even conceived of by people befitting normalcy.
Infinity Pool relishes in the cruelty of the rich bereft of accountability. At the same time, glass Onion shows the resultant side of it and what occurs when accountability is brought into the equation, personified by both Craig’s Benoit Blanc and Janelle Monae’s Cassandra Brand. It also shows from an objective perspective the inherent ridiculousness of the ultra-rich and their detachment from reality to a certain degree. Perhaps not surprising that all of these movies, like Infinity Pool, take place in locations removed from civilizations.
1. The Menu (2022)
In making a list of movies like Infinity Pool, the first movie that automatically jumps to the top of the said list is Mark Mylod’s 2022 film The Menu. Both share the same sort of malicious yet cheeky cruelty towards the rich.
Director Mark Mylod, with his Succession pedigree, takes it to the literal degree of subversion, from feeding the rich to eating the rich, turning the table on their heads while simultaneously commenting on the service industry itself. It is perhaps not a coincidence that the final escape of Anya Taylor Joy’s character of Margot revolves around the greasiest of American staples (cheeseburger with fries) and paying the bill with change. Not a coincidence that the only way Taylor-Joy’s character manages to escape is through respecting the service’s tenets (read food and restaurant industry) and just tapping into that core.
Fiennes’ character systematically dismantles every aspect of wealth and the pretentiousness inherent to the occupancy of said wealth, be it the stuff upper lipped critic, the bored rich senator with a slew of mistresses, the sycophant whose access to wealth makes him oblivious to the struggle and dedication of fine-tuning an art form instead of just perusing through from a distance, the movie star whose efforts to stay relevant involves name drops and orgasmic reactions to amuse-bouche he is unable to comprehend.
The snake eating its tail aspect of the film, however, is that to eat and flay the rich, Fiennes’ self-righteous nature lends him a sense of obliviousness to his pretentiousness – a loophole which the movie exploits and weaves it into its tapestry and cleverly manages to make Taylor-Joy’s and thus the audience remain out of it and look on with judgment, empathy to a certain degree but mostly hilarity of darkness resembling tar.
In Infinity Pool, the rich, with their hedonism, go deeper and deeper into the dark underbelly of La Tolqa to the extent that they launch a home invasion or even kill one of the clones of James to infantilize him. Unlike Fiennes, Cronenberg’s vision of the film chooses to dismantle all of the petty base elements of the rich, showing them as nothing more than animals indulging in their base instincts, similar to how the rich react when they are cornered by Fiennes and are forced to react with their base instincts in The Menu.