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But here, Alexander Skarsgard goes a bit further than puking in the paddling pool or nicking a few bread rolls from the breakfast buffet. In Brandon (son of director David) Cronenberg’s lurid thriller we are hit with a barrage of orgies, drugs and murder as well-heeled Westerners are let off the leash in a swish resort in the fictional Third-World island nation of Li Tolqa.
Skarsgard plays James, a struggling writer who married into money. Early scenes suggest all is not well with strait-laced, wealthy heiress wife Em (Cleopatra Coleman).
James has insisted they stay in the resort so he can find inspiration for his second novel. He gets more than he can handle after he and Em accept an invitation from overly friendly English actress Gabi (Mia Goth) to leave the gated compound and enjoy a picnic with her and architect husband Alban (Jalil Lespert).
If you’ve seen Goth in horror film Pearl, you may sense that a dark twist lurks around the bend of one of the island’s unpaved roads.
It arrives when James runs over and kills a local while driving their rented car back to the hotel.
After his arrest, he’s sentenced to an immediate execution. Then a police officer informs them of an arrangement with the tourist board. For a large fee, a clone of the driver can be created and he can be killed instead.
From here, the holiday-from-hell theme quickly switches into a sci-fi satire about the immorality of the one per cent.
I found the pacing a little off. I’d have liked Cronenberg Jr to devote less of the film’s two-hour running time to arty, hallucinatory sequences and put more effort into explaining a sudden transformation in Skarsgard’s character.
Still, Goth is brilliant as an increasingly unhinged siren, and there are flashes of Cronenberg Sr’s brilliance in the finale.
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