Genre : Sci-Fi; Thriller
Director : Alexandre Aja
Platform : Netflix
Mélanie Laurent plays the role of a woman who wakes up in a cryogenic chamber. She has no memory of her identity or the events that led her to this chamber. Much to her distress MILO, a virtual assistant informs her about the lack of oxygen inside this chamber. She must unravel the mystery behind this place and save herself, before the oxygen runs out.
Oxygen is directed by Alexandre Aja who also directed the 2019 thriller Crawl. He skilfully blends the screenplay into a mystery, that is intriguing and confusing at the same time. As the name of the movie suggests, the main question is how will she survive with depleting oxygen levels? But as we proceed many more important questions surface around her life. Both the present and past storylines are highly interwoven and captivating such that we never lose interest.
In the beginning, the director does a good job in creating the situation where along with the protagonist we feel tensed and suffocated. The intensity increases when we are shown the outside world with the trees, beach and garden in flashes. Claustrophobic people would surely have a stressful experience watching this, but if you are not claustrophobic, still these scenes give us a sense of discomfort. However, in the latter half, the decrease in the level of oxygen doesn’t gives us that amount of tension because the focus shifts onto other subplots.
Speaking about external threats, except a few, the chamber isn’t threatening. When we talk about Don’t Breathe(2016), in the movie the old man’s house itself becomes a character. From outside it looks just an ordinary house, but as we go closer it has so many layers to it that it becomes a threat to be inside the house. In Oxygen, the chamber remains limited to MILO and its database. Moreover, we don’t form a bond with MILO like the protagonist supposedly forms.
The premise also reminds me of Black Mirror, where the technology poses a threat on the humans. But it is not dark and unsettling like Black Mirror. The scenario of lack of oxygen is also shown in Stowaway(2021). In comparison, Oxygen does a better job in keeping us invested in the story. Though, in Stowaway we form a connection with the character’s lives and their ambitions.
In conclusion, it is not a taut thriller but it will keep you engrossed with its interesting story.
An Indian reviewer who writes about horror and thriller movies/series. If not movies, he likes to pick up a mystery book to read. Some of his favourite movies/series include Stranger Things, Elite (S1-3), Train to Busan, Andhadhun, Strangers: Prey at Night.