Infinity Pool director reveals why they had to tone down the grotesque horror for cinemas

Alexander Skarsgård as James in Infinity Pool
(Image credit: NEON)

Brandon Cronenberg's new horror Infinity Pool, starring Mia Goth and Alexander Skarsgård, premiered at Sundance 2023, and first reactions described the film as "perverse", "violent", "White Lotus for sickos", and more. As it turns out, though, festival attendees watched a slightly different version than the one cinema goers will get when its released in the US on January 27...

In theaters, an R-rated cut of the "freaky" flick will be shown, as opposed to the NC-17 one offered up at Sundance. Explaining why they had to tone it down for general audiences, Cronenberg candidly told Collider (opens in new tab): "NC-17 was an attempt to rebrand the X rating, but they didn't do it successfully, and it came with all this stigma. You can't actually market a film if it's an NC-17 rating. 

"So specifically in the US, that means that you can't really have a theatrical release of any size," the writer-director, whose filmmaker father David Cronenberg helmed titles such as Scanners, Videodrome, and The Fly, continued. "But I knew that going into it, and it's not a problem everywhere and usually there's a plan to release the full film."

In the same interview, Cronenberg assured that the edited version "isn't hugely different" and those who prefer their genre movies on the more extreme side need "not worry about the versioning". He went on: "I think film is, on some level, a very pragmatic art form. There's a lot that you have to deal with. There's a whole industry, and so you just do everything you can creatively to satisfy yourself, but then you understand that they're just aspects of the industry that you have to deal with and that kind of comes with the terrain."

Also starring Cleopatra Coleman, Jalil Lespert, Thomas Kretschmann, and Amanda Brugel, Infinity Pool sees James, an author and his wealthy wife Em find themselves at the center of a bloody, hedonistic nightmare, after striking up a friendship with a beguiling young woman on vacation. Following a tragic accident, the pair are faced with a choice; be executed or, if they're rich enough to pay for it, a front row seat to their own deaths instead.

It releases in US theaters on January 27, and UK cinemas on March 24. While we wait, check out our list of the most exciting upcoming movies coming our way throughout 2023 and beyond.

Amy West

I am an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things TV and film across our Total Film and SFX sections. Elsewhere, my words have been published by the likes of Digital Spy, SciFiNow, PinkNews, FANDOM, Radio Times, and Total Film magazine.