When a film grabs the audience within the opening moments, and keeps that audience on the edge for 90 minutes, you know you are in for a treat.
Director Alexandre Aja is becoming more and more of a reliable director. From his great freshman outing with HAUTE TENSION, mixing in a campy B horror film PIRANHA 3D and 2019’s thriller CRAWL he has shown his skill at not just pleasing the audience but doing it with skill across multiple genres.
OXYGEN stars Mèlanie Laurent as the woman who wakes up in a cryogenic chamber with no recollection of how she got there. As the tagline suggests, there are a lot more questions than answers and that is the film’s best asset.
Laurent shines as the central character, a strong female presence that is mesmerizing to watch. With its simple premise and single location, there is no room for any missteps in the script, and with newcomer Christie LeBlanc we get a tight, smart script that doesn’t waste a single moment. Gorgeously shot by Maxime Alexandre drawing you into the struggle and that claustrophobic feeling of being right there with Laurent.
Part of the draw to the film is its constant mystery being unfolded, our protagonist’s memory is jumbled and as she struggles through trying to figure where she is and how to escape her new prison. She is assisted by the futuristic computer built into the pod, M.I.L.O. With vibes of all the classic “could be” nefarious computer voices from science fiction lore and brilliantly performed by Mathieu Amalric.
As a sci-fi medium, the story has the added benefit of leaning into the tropes of the genre with great results. The futuristic tech inside the pod, the evil robot arm that roams around from time to time, and of course all the wires and tubes that she is stuck with at the beginning of the film all bring that cozy warm blanket of sci-fi goodness to gently rest on your shoulders.
There will be no spoiling anything that may or may not happen do our fearless heroine, suffice to say that if you are browsing Netflix and looking for some fun and original Science Fiction, do yourself a favor and check this one out.
4 out of 5