Oxygen is a fantasy sci-fi thriller movie directed by Alexandre Aja and starring Mélanie Laurent, Mathieu Amalric and Malik Zidi, alongside other cast members.
Space is horrifying – the fear of the great vast nothingness is enough to give me sleepless nights just like the thought of the vast depths of the ocean. To be lost in that vast nothingness without any recollection of where or who you are is thus, equally very scary.
Oxygen starts off with a woman cutting herself out of a plastic sheath of sorts. She’s disoriented and confused and finds herself inside a cryogenic chamber. With her in that tiny space is MILO, a virtual assistant of sorts, who tries to answer her questions. However, unfortunately for her, her oxygen level is at a measly 35% and it’s going down fast. Without any idea of what’s going on, she desperately tries whatever she can to get out of the situation – will she be able to though?
First and foremost, Oxygen takes place completely within the confines of Omicron-267’s cryogenic pod. If you thought a house is a small place for shooting to take place, boy are you gonna be surprised with this one. The movie’s claustrophobic surrounding goes well with its premise of a woman lost somewhere without a means of escape.
MILO forms the only ray of hope, although not really. Omicron-267 is unable to find out her real name or purpose from the virtual assistant as her heightened emotional state makes her forget that it, unlike her, does not understand anything other than straightforward questions. MILO, however, is sometimes entertaining and offers sedatives whenever its patient is agitated – perhaps not in the mood to take care of a child with zoomies.
However, for all the good that Oxygen does with its central idea, or tries to do, the movie doesn’t really deliver along those lines. Sure, it might seem very interesting at first glance, but after you watch a while, you understand where this is going and it becomes repetitive. Omicron-267 has flashes of memories which give her recollection and a bit of perspective and it’s something that we have seen too many times before. The ticking clock of the oxygen meter doesn’t add much either; there’s just not much in the first place to add that feeling of shock.
However, what I will give Oxygen is how good Mélanie Laurent and Mathieu Amalric are in the movie. Laurent is the only person we see other than her in-flashback husband. Additionally, the entire movie is shot in hyper close-up. Take these two facts and you get a movie whose acting might just blow up in your face. But that’s not the case here – Oxygen features some excellent acting and Laurent immerses herself in her character’s duress and calmer moments.
On the other hand, Amalric is also great as MILO. We only hear his voice, because AI, but he’s wonderful and just the right balance of robot and friendly neighbour. The moderation is almost calming. The movie’s set, which is the cryogenic tube, is impressive as well. It’s pretty swanky and straight-forward, but looks great regardless.
Summing up: Oxygen
Oxygen is a straightforward movie that will remind you of the pandemic and what the future might just bring if we can’t put a reign to it. However, it drags after a while because there isn’t much tension or material in the story. Sure, it’s hella claustrophobia-inducing but apart from that, it won’t be able to hold on to your undivided attention for too long. If you must watch it though, go ahead for the good performances.
Oxygen is streaming on Netflix.
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