There have been a good number of films in the past that focus on claustrophobic environments or one location such as a car, crawl space, elevator, or casket. Buried, Locke, Devil, and Crawl (also directed by Alexander Aja, the director of Oxygen) are some examples of this in films to date. Oxygen is the latest film to tackle a one-set location and claustrophobic environment. It’s playing right now on Netflix if you want to check it out.
Mélanie Laurent plays a woman who wakes up in a cryo-chamber in space. She doesn’t know how she got there or why she’s there in the first place. She notices due to the voice of the unit that she only has so much air in the chamber and it will eventually run out. She has to figure out how to get out before it runs out on her. Along the way, she gets in contact with various people to help her figure out what to do.
Laurent is famous for her breakout role in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. Since then, she’s had some good roles in Beginners, Operation Finale, Enemy, and Now You See Me. She is primarily known as a French actress. She is amazing in Oxygen. Next to her role in Inglourious Basterds, this might be the best role of her career.
As in the other films I’ve mentioned, the voice-over cast has to do their job of helping the main character make this story of survival believable. This voiceover cast is the first-rate from Mathieu Amalric as the voice of the computer in the chamber, M.I.L.O. He is a soothing voice at times, but he can be very scary as well. Anne Hathaway and Noomi Rapace also play voices in the film. They pop up when Laurant starts to figure out her situation.
Oxygen is a very different kind of sci-fi film because of its one-set location. Aja makes the viewers believe this is a real location and real environment like his previous film Crawl. The claustrophobic nature brings out the concern and worry of those watching this story of survival. It feels very real for those watching at home on Netflix, as did Crawl for all of us watching that film. The computer and various gadgets she has to manipulate play perfectly in the hands of the writers. Using all these tools helps make the story flow much better as well. This was a well-made film all the way around.
3 1/2 stars
Dan Skip Allen
Founder/EIC disappointment media