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The Ending Of Infinity Pool Explained

Director Brandon Cronenberg returns with his latest mind-bender, "Infinity Pool," showcasing his unique vision for storytelling and unnerving horror. The film follows James Foster (Alexander Skarsgård), a struggling novelist who travels to a seaside international resort with his wife Em (Cleopatra Coleman) to find inspiration. However, after talking with two supposed fans, James finds himself in a downward spiral involving crime sprees, clones, and hallucinogenic drugs. Now, James must try to keep his head as he becomes lost in this new reality while navigating the deadly risks he finds at every turn.

Those familiar with Cronenberg's previous films, 2012's "Antiviral" and his 2020 feature "Possessor," know that he delivers some true brain-melters, which has led "Infinity Pool" to draw some strong reactions from critics. Like his father David Cronenberg, he isn't afraid to make viewers' stomachs turn with grotesque body horror visuals and loves to take viewers into grim personal stories within a surprisingly grounded world. "Infinity Pool" is no different and presents quite the rabbit hole for viewers to fall into. The film is filled with trippy visuals that emphasize how wild James' experience is becoming alongside a strong central storyline with a lot of twists and turns. 

With so much happening throughout "Infinity Pool," especially in that disturbing third act, it's worth delving into the wildest moments of "Infinity Pool." Here is the film's ending explained.

Expensive clone executions

After James accidentally kills a local farmer by running him over while driving back to the hotel late at night, he's in quite a predicament. As a foreigner who has committed murder, accidental or not, he's susceptible to the death penalty. Obviously, this is a horrifying fate and not what anyone wants to hear in this situation. However, there is way one out that James has available — but it's both expensive and pretty weird.

In this fictional country, Latoka, there's an option given to wealthy visitors to avoid execution, although it also serves to keep the tourist community thriving. For a hefty sum, visitors can have themselves cloned and have the clone version receive the execution punishment instead. It's without question the better option than simply being executed, but there are greater costs that come outside of just the financial loss. 

The cloning process itself is very eerie and James will still be forced to watch the execution take place. Thus, James must watch a version of himself get stabbed to death by the farmer's son. Also, even though James gets to skip out on the fatal punishment, the police give him a "souvenir" in the form of his clone's ashes, giving him a physical burden as much as a mental one. It's a horrific sequence that is not only skin-crawling to watch but also has drastic effects on James' psyche.

Greed and morality

While Em is understandably mortified after seeing a clone of her husband die right in front of her, James' reaction is noticeably different. He seems remarkably calm about the whole thing and even cracks a smile at the end of the execution sequence. Instead of feeling remorseful about what happened, this ordeal seems to spark a new interest in James that's only elevated when Gabi (Mia Goth) introduces him to her inner circle of rich friends.

James' arc in "Infinity Pool" — as well as the rich group of sociopaths he finds himself with — displays how greed influences morality. The cloning process basically gives James and his new associates an endless supply of "get out of jail free" cards, allowing them to continually commit crimes and murder without repercussion. Since most of the group seems to have seemingly infinite wealth, they can be as villainous as they want. "Infinity Pool" is an excellent showcase of how powerful greed can be and how it can ever get to the point where one's sense of morality completely dissipates.

The impact on the locals

The impact of the cloning process extends far past how the rich can use it and is shown to damage both innocent and not-so-innocent locals. At the beginning of the film, viewers see that local rebels have started to express their disdain for the tourists, regardless of how much they boost the local economy. Frankly, it doesn't matter how much the wealthy resort-goers help financially if they just drunkenly drive around the island hitting locals with their cars — like James did — or go on destructive crime sprees without a care in the world.

Plus, if their loved one is killed by one of the tourists, the locals are the ones forced to carry out the execution. This leads to the incredibly young son of the farmer James killed having to stab James' clone in the disturbing execution scene. The cloning law promotes violent and vengeful culture at a young age and forces the locals, regardless of how young they are, to experience extreme trauma. Also, even if you're a government official in Latoka, you're clearly not safe. This is seen when James and his cohorts break into the house of a local general to steal his things. 

In the end, all this cloning law really only helps the wealthy stay wealthy in Latoka, leaving the rest of the population open to the destructive powers of rich outsiders. 

Huge hallucinations

Another layer that leads Gabi and her friends to become uncaring monsters who simply want to break reality and have little to no concern for others is their heavy drug use. Gabi eventually introduces James to a natively grown drug, which is not considered illegal because it is supposedly primarily used for religious purposes. However, it soon becomes clear that Gabi and her friends definitely don't use this herb for enlightenment, and the real motivation behind their drug is shown in a sequence that is both hypnotic and erotic.

The group uses the drug to lower their inhibitions even further and put them in a pleasurable trance while they have group orgies. The use of color and reality-distorting visuals makes this sequence both immensely creepy and stunningly chaotic. While visually enticing, this scene ultimately becomes another instance that demonstrates how this wealthy group is able to completely lose their sense of control and act in a manner that breaks beyond the laws and expectations meant to bind them. We're even shown later that James uses the drug to make himself feel less remorseful after beating up the man who arrested him — something he later comes to regret in a terrifying twist.

James fighting James

At one point, Gabi and her friends suggest they capture the officer who arrested them and beat him up. They do so with James on board, and James especially spares his captive no mercy. After hyping himself up by taking even more drugs, he viciously beats up the hostage while taunting him and laughing. He even gets the group to urinate on the hostage while he's on the ground in a disgusting and vile act. However, James eventually comes to realize that this captive isn't who he thinks he is.

Once James rips off the mask the hostage is wearing he sees that his prisoner is actually just another one of his own clones. This rocks James to his core so severely that he sprints out of the room in fear. Even though Gabi claims that this was just a harmless prank, this realization seems to snap him out of the reckless cloud that he's been operating within. Now with a sudden sense of clarity, James appears to be ready to end this trip as soon as he can.

A hidden truth

At first, one of the main reasons that James and Em stay longer than they initially intended is because James' passport is missing. While Em and James are packing up after their first clone encounter, James says that he's unable to find his passport. Even though he can't leave the country without it, Em eventually does leave without him — which ends up being a smart choice. Although it might seem like James is stuck there by circumstance, we come to find that it's really by choice.

After realizing that he's been torturing a clone of himself, James goes into full panic mode and is ready to hit the eject button on the trip. Without much hesitation, he runs into the bathroom and grabs his passport, which had been taped to the back of the toilet the whole time. Why would he do this? 

Given how powerless he felt in his relationship with Em and his frustration with his stalled writing career, his time at the resort with more successful "friends" allows James to feel the power he so desperately craves. He selfishly believes that he is untouchable and that his actions have no consequences. It is only when he starts to realize how much damage he can do to himself that he snaps out of his delusions and tries to find a quick escape. However, he will soon see that it is much too late.

Tables turned

Although James is able to get pretty far away from the resort, even boarding the bus that should take him to the airport, it's ultimately a futile effort. Gabi and her cohorts end up right on his tail and force the bus to pull over by creating a blockade with their cars. They threaten everyone on the bus to give up James or risk death, and Gabi makes it clear that she won't stop until James reluctantly gives himself up. Gabi doesn't take James' attempted escape lightly and soon devises a brutal punishment for him.

James is forced to walk back to the hotel while Gabi and her friends drive behind him in a slow and excruciating sequence. It soon becomes clear that James' escape plan was just another delusion inspired by his selfish feelings that he could do anything he wanted and not serve a punishment for it. However, we now know that he was definitely wrong. The situation only worsens for him as Gabi drops some harsh revelations on him.

The truth behind their friendship

James felt like he belonged with this group of sociopathic rich folk from the start and he pays the ultimate price for it when they turn the tables on him. The fact that the group has forced him to fight himself and then walk home after fleeing might seem like a cruel enough twist of fate for most. Of course, Gabi has another reveal up her sleeve that cuts right at James' inflated ego.

As Gabi taunts James while pointing a gun right at him, she reveals that James has been the group's plaything the whole time and that they never saw him as an equal at all. They simply brought him along because they saw him as easy prey. Further, Gabi has never even read his book, which she earlier lavished praise upon. 

This becomes another instance that shows how James' ego — along with his desire for recognition and wealth — has caused him to go down this path and face the punishment he deserves. Gabi even starts reading a negative review about his book in one of the coldest moves viewers will see from this already chilling character. James has hit an all-time low, and his options for escape become even more limited the longer he's under this group's thumb. 

The farmhouse

After narrowly escaping Gabi by heading into the woods, James finds himself in a tough situation. His leg is wounded from a stray bullet, he's in a country that outwardly despises tourists, and he no longer has the safety net of Em's money. Soon enough, he comes across a field that leads to a farmhouse where he hides out and eventually falls asleep in. However, waking up in this farmhouse isn't exactly a good thing for James.

When he wakes up, James sees the son of the farmer he killed and goes into a panic at the sight of him. This kicks off another reality-distorting sequence filled with horrifying imagery and some Cronenberg-brand body horror. From moments of skin tearing and face ripping to some mind-bending moments of horror, it's gut-wrenching, to say the least. It all ends up being a dream, however, and James soon realizes that appears to be safe — but not for long.

Man versus clone

After James wakes up in the farmhouse, he walks outside only to find that Gabi and her cohorts have followed him there. They tell him that they have one last test for him, and if he completes it, they will supposedly let him go. However, it's no easy task. Gabi brings out the clone that James had beaten up earlier, who has now been reduced to a dog-like state. Gabi says that she's going to let "the dog" loose on him. If he wants to survive, then he needs to kill his clone. With how James struggled with the realization that he was beating up his clone, this task seems impossible. 

Despite initially trying not to play into Gabi's game, James is forced to fight his clone and wins in a particularly brutal manner. Fed up with how powerless he is again, he takes his pent-up rage out on the clone by beating him to death with continuous blows to the face. James beats him so badly that the clone's head is nothing more than chunks of bone, blood, and flesh. 

Surprisingly, James is rewarded with his freedom by Gabi and the group — but even this comes at an additional cost. 

Nothing is the same

Although James is granted his freedom and allowed to return home, he's far from okay. This experience has warped his mind and his psyche is likely becoming more damaged by the minute. The bus ride to the airport certainly doesn't seem to help much either when James overhears Gabi and the rest of the group talking. Rather than offer any acknowledgment of the trauma James has experienced, the group casually chats about the things they'll do when they get home and their wealthy lives. Gabi and her husband even give James a normal goodbye and say they hope to see him next year. 

This interaction drives James to the edge and makes him realize that he'll never be like them. While the group's wealthy lifestyles and lack of genuine remorse make them able to leave this experience like they had a normal vacation, the same can't be said for James. Given that his and Em's relationship will likely end when he gets home, all he has to look forward to are more consequences for his actions. 

Instead of returning home, James decides to stay at the resort through its treacherous monsoon season and we see him getting doused by torrential rain. It's tough to say if James simply feels he belongs here now or if he's waiting for the next season when he can do it all again. However, what is clear is that James' life is now forever changed. 

Could there be more to the story of Infinity Pool?

At the moment, there are no plans to create a sequel to "Infinity Pool," but Cronenberg has presented a world and story that could have more to it. While Cronenberg doesn't have a history of making sequels to his stories, there's something about the world that "Infinity Pool" presents that shows a lot of potential for more. A sequel story could easily follow a new guest that becomes ensnared in this world of crime and clones or maybe even catch up with James after he decides to stay at the resort rather than go home. 

There's even narrative potential for "Infinity Pool" to become a TV series, which would allow for more of its world and lore to be fleshed out. There could even be a story focused on the perspective of a Latoka local or one of the rebels that we saw at the start of the film. Frankly, with Mia Goth already getting her own trilogy with Ti West's "X" movies, we could easily imagine her leading another one with Cronenberg. While it wouldn't be surprising if the story of "Infinity Pool" ended here, there's plenty of potential for more that could be interesting to see play out.