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June 9, 2023



Filmmaker Brandon Cronenberg (Possessor) joins us to talk about his newest release, Infinity Pool, the current state of horror, and the future of his burgeoning film career.

BB: You experimented with the visual language of [Infinity Pool] quite a bit, which made it really exciting to watch. Were there any scenes in particular that were difficult to shoot, but turned out better than you had hoped for?

  • BC: It was all kind of difficult to shoot because we were on a pretty tight indie schedule, and that was more challenging, I think, than the kind of hallucinatory scenes, the more formally stylistic stuff. That stuff was fun, but a lot of it is done [with] you taking material and re-photographing it, so it was a bit more leisurely whereas the main shoot was a bit hectic. I think, to me, the hardest sequence was probably the home invasion. We had one day to do that whole sequence, and it’s probably, you know, two and a half days of shooting if we were able to take our time. But, yeah, I’m really happy with how it turned out.

BB: With Possessor and Infinity Pool, there is this power dynamic between the elite and the lower body person. Has this concept always grabbed you, or would you like to deviate from that discussion in subsequent films?

  • BC: It isn't the case that I think about it on a film-to-film basis. I mean, I wrote Infinity Pool before we shot Possessor, but after I’d written the script for Possessor. So, maybe there were certain thematic elements that made their way into [Infinity Pool’s] script that I wasn’t sure I was going to even be able to tackle in Possessor because that film kept falling apart, over and over again, for the better part of eight years. So, there’s some overlap, probably. In that sense, that was where my head was at. But at the same time, I also think that the power dynamic of the economic divide is something that’s only becoming a more difficult-to-tackle issue. So, you know, you kind of pull the tensions that you see around you in the world into your work and process them in that way.

BB: The rating of the film was brought down from an NC-17 to an R rating. What was the process like for you to make those changes to kind of fit those guidelines?

  • BC: It's a process that very directly involves the MPAA because you send a film to them, they tell you, “this would be NC-17,” and you say, “okay, give us some feedback.” [Then] you work with an MPAA consultant…actually, Neon has an MPAA consultant who I work with…[he] sort of interprets their feedback for you in a way that’s hopefully a little bit more specific and practical. Then you just go back and forth. In our case, we tried to appeal at one point. So, I actually had to fly to LA, go to Sherman Oaks, to the MPAA headquarters, and it’s like putting your film on trial a little bit. They have a room full of people…apparently, there’s a priest there, that’s part of the requirements…and you screen the film, and you sort of make a case for why this should be R. Actually, weirdly, the MPAA representatives agreed with us in that case, that we had made our case, but we split the room five to five, and you need two thirds. So, we made a couple of minor tweaks after that.


BB: You got to work with a modern day scream queen in Mia Goth prior to what has become her breakthrough 2022. What was the experience of working with her and the rest of the cast?

  • BC: Interestingly, she was shooting Pearl when we first spoke, when we sent her this script. Those films hadn’t come out when I cast her in the film, and I don’t think we actually saw them until after we had shot. It’s fantastic that she’s having such a big year. I think she’s brilliant. I’ve been wanting to work with her for years. Everything she’s in is another example of how exciting she is as an actor and what a talent she is. It’s funny that she’s had this run of horror films, and is now, you know, the big scream queen because it wasn’t the case when we were shooting or that hadn’t happened yet. But, I mean, she’s an absolute delight to work with and obviously brilliant.

BB: Working with actresses like Andrea Riseborough, and now Mia Goth, do you find their performances to be more horrifying than your body horror sequences or vice versa?

  • BC: You know, I don’t know. I lose all perspective as I’m working on it. Certainly, with actors like those, the performances are the exciting part to me. I mean, it’s fun to do the horror stuff. We get incredibly giddy on set and start laughing maniacally when the prosthetics come out and everybody’s being squirted with blood just because it’s… as disturbing as those scenes are for some people to watch, when you actually shoot them, they’re incredibly funny. It’s sort of like playing Halloween. I mean, those are, in a way, the most lighthearted scenes to shoot, so they’re very enjoyable. That’s kind of basic nerdy stuff that is fun, but you can kind of just do it with your friends. To bring on an actor who you’ve never met prior to the film, to have someone inject that kind of life into your characters and into your stories, [is] thrilling in a very particular way.

BB: I know a lot of films have working titles when creating them, but I know with this film, the title Infinity Pool has some subtle context. I was wondering if you had any other ideas for titles for this project?

  • BC: No, it actually was the working title. I mean, it was based on a short story, and at one point, there was a kind of short comic version while I was writing the script that came out. It was a very short comic in an anthology comic, and that story was called, I think, “Death in Lee Tolka.” But that was never gonna be the name of the film.

BB: How do you feel about the surge of love for horror in recent years? And has the genre changed at all?

  • BC: I’m not sure if it’s [changed] necessarily. I don’t know. I feel like there’s always a market for horror, like from a film industry perspective. Certainly, a lot of my friends are horror fans, and so maybe my perspective is skewed, but it doesn’t seem like anyone has lost a love for the genre. I don’t know. It’s interesting. There’s this move now in the industry to embrace some pretty arty, intriguing horror, and they’re coming out of, you know, Neon and A24. So, I don’t know if it’s just because a market has been carved out and now there’s more interest in making films like that? I’m not sure. But I don’t think that those films are new. I think there has always been arty horror, and there has always been this love for horror films. I think we’re in a pretty interesting place right now because there’s a lot of visibility both with the more mainstream horror and this kind of stuff, but I don’t know that it’s necessarily a completely new thing or that those kinds of films stopped being made at any point.

BB: Are there any horror films that stuck out to you over the course of 2022 that you really enjoyed?

  • BC: You know what? I’m just starting to catch up on that stuff. I mean, this is hugely biased, but obviously Mia’s work has really stuck out. But there’s a lot of stuff that I just haven’t [seen], like I’m just now finally catching up to because the editing process was very long and intense on this one. So, there’s a kind of a year’s worth of film that I haven’t had a chance to engage with. So, it seems so self-serving to say X and Pearl, but they were quite good.


BB: With both your films being body horror films, the elephant in the room is that your father has a historic legacy in the genre. How has your father impacted your love for body horror as a sub-genre?

  • BC: I don’t know if he has. It’s hard to say. You know, I can’t see my father’s films with any kind of perspective because I’m too close to him. I’m too close to his films. So, I can’t watch his movies the way that normal people watch movies and be influenced in the way that people generally mean by that. Obviously, we’re related and he was a big part of my childhood and still is a big part of my life, but just as a human being. So, as a person, obviously, he influenced me genetically and in terms of my upbringing, but as a filmmaker, it’s hard to say. I can’t really unpack that in the normal way.

BB: Are there any films that Inspire your work?

  • BC: The problem is… I watch a bunch of films, usually with Karim Hussain, my cinematographer. He lives pretty close to me, and he’s an encyclopedia of film knowledge. My knowledge is all over the place. I have hugely embarrassing gaps, but he’s seen everything and knows everything. So, we usually will sit down and watch a mass of stuff, and I kind of just pack it into a weird loaf that sits somewhere in the back of my brain. So, it’s kind of hard to remember what we were watching when we were doing marathons in 2020, or 2019, when we sort of started this. I think some of the Steadicam and macro-gore stuff has definitely come from some [Dario] Argento films, you know, Opera and that kind of stuff. But that’s not something specific to this film, those are just incredibly formally stylish genre films. It’s not a very good answer, not a very interesting answer…

BB: No, no worries! I appreciate your work because it feels original, and I feel like that’s the twist that you bring to the table with all of your horror films. So, thank you for that. For your future projects, would you ever get into any other genre and try something new? Does that interest you?

  • BC: Absolutely! I mean, I love horror films. I’m happy to be a horror filmmaker. But I’m not trying just specifically to work in that genre. It’s just where my head is at. I’m happy to work outside, I’m just kind of taking these projects one at a time and following my interests. I do have… one of the things I’m working on is an adaptation of a book called Super-Cannes as a limited series, and that’s more of a weird detective story in a way. It’s somewhat horrific, but it’s not necessarily a traditional horror story. It’s a bit more of a surreal procedural.

BB: Well, DC just announced they’re doing Swamp Thing. You should definitely throw your name into the ring to James Gunn!

  • BC: Haha, let them know that! I don’t know if Infinity Pool is winning me fans at Warner Bros., but we’ll see.

Make sure to check out Infinity Pool now in theatres.

Interview conducted on February 2nd, 2023 by Paige Frabetti.

Photo Credits: Banner - Rich Polk/Getty Images; Photo 1 - Neon; Photo 2 - Caitlin Cronenberg/The Globe and Mail

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