OXYGEN Review: CRAWL Director Alexandre Aja Delivers High Tension In Claustrophobic Sc-Fi Thriller

OXYGEN Review: CRAWL Director Alexandre Aja Delivers High Tension In Claustrophobic Sc-Fi Thriller

Alexandre Aja's (Crawl, Switchblade Romance) latest film is set to hit Netflix next month, and stars Mélanie Laurent as a woman who wakes up in a cryo unit with no memory of how she got there...

Though his films haven't always hit the mark, Alexandre Aja has proven himself to be one of the most adept horror directors working today, and fans have been anxiously awaiting his next project since the release of 2019's wildly entertaining creature-feature, Crawl.

Oxygen represents something of a departure for the filmmaker in that it leans more towards sci-fi, but rest assured, Aja will always find a way to unsettle his audience.

The film begins with a young woman (Inglorious Bastards' Mélanie Laurent) waking up in a medical cryo unit with no idea who she is or how she got there. Struggling to recall what happened with only a sporadically helpful (and possibly lethal) AI named M.I.L.O. (Mathieu Amalric) for assistance, she must try to piece together her fragmented memories as her oxygen levels rapidly decrease.

Oxygen Trailer: Mélanie Laurent Needs Air in Alexandre Aja's Thriller

It's a familiar premise (Aja admits to being heavily influenced by 2010 thriller Buried starring Ryan Reynolds), and the movie actually borrows rather liberally from several other sci-fi flicks - it'd probably give too much away to even name one, in particular - but as the story develops we do begin to see more original ideas take shape.

Aja makes excellent use of the claustrophobic setting, finding plenty of creative ways to ratchet the tension up to almost unbearable levels. Even with one actor in a single location, he also manages to indulge his horror sensibilities with a few well-placed scares. A palpable sense of unease pervades the entire final act, due in no small part to a superb performance from Laurent, who ensures we remain gripped by her amnesia-stricken heroine's predicament to the very last shot.

Without delving too far into spoiler territory, some big reveals may prove to be divisive, and the ending does feel a little rushed. But if you've been fully invested up to that point, it should still serve as an emotionally satisfying conclusion.

Fans of Aja's gorier offerings may be a little disappointed by the relatively restrained Oxygen, but the director has crafted an engrossing, often terrifying sci-fi chiller with a must-see turn from Mélanie Laurent, and we highly recommend checking it out when it hits Netflix on May 12.

May 2016

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