‘Oxygen’ Review: Alexandre Aja Crafts a Claustrophobic and Twisty Sci-Fi Thriller

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The Netflix movie will keep you guessing until the end. The challenge of the single-location film offers clear benefits and disadvantages. On the one hand, the stakes are built in. You’ve got a limited amount of air in a single place, the setting is inherently claustrophobic, and you’re likely racing against the clock. Audiences can quickly understand and invest in the situation. The trick of it all is how to keep the film interesting when you have limited room to maneuver and only a single actor on camera. Your thrilling premise can quickly devolve into a tedious gimmick. To the great credit of director Alexandre Aja, screenwriter Christie LeBlanc, and actor Mélanie Laurent, their new movie Oxygen always keeps us hooked as they’ve wrapped the premise in layers of mystery where we’re compelled not only by our protagonist’s survival, but also the particulars of her situation. The great joy of Oxygen is finding out how the filmmakers will keep the story going and what new twist they’ll reveal to fuel the plot.

A woman (Laurent) wakes up in a cryogenic chamber. The chamber’s on-board computer MILO (Mathieu Amalric) informs her that she only has 33% oxygen remaining and that the number is dropping. The woman cannot remember her name or anything about herself, but she’s determined to use the tools around her to survive.


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