Oxygen (2021): Drama/Fantasy/Sci-Fi

A woman wakes in an advanced pod, not knowing exactly what it is, and how or why she got there, but she only has ninety minutes to find a way out.

Claustrophobic and captivating! From the very beginning the questions “what’s happening?” and “how on Earth is she gonna make it?” are raised. As the narrative unfolds, the next question is “what would I do if I were her?”. Before even putting it on, Buried (2010) came to my mind which is probably the most claustrophobic film I have ever watched. Therefore, unintentional comparisons were unavoidable.

Oxygen lets you “catch your breath” a lot more than once which I’m not sure if it should have. What’s more, I object a tad with its constant non-diegetic sound, and let me tell you why. I would assume, without wanting to know for a fact, that if I were trapped in there I wouldn’t be listening to any music. Just my increased heartbeat and my heavy breathing – the dietetic sound. But that’s just me.

Writer Christie LeBlanc and director Alexandre Aja restrict the narrative till half-way through. What you know is strictly what Liz does. When the subplot becomes clear(er), the twist is revealed, everything starts making sense, claustrophobia is lost, but relatable to all of us drama replaces it. In short, there is a culminating moment that defines the outcome and justifies everything that you have found out that far. And that is as far as I go. I hope you enjoy it!

Aja has given us brutal – and I mean brutal – horrors such as Haute Tension (2003), and The Hills Have Eyes (2006), some funny or less believable horrors such as Piranha 3D (2010) and Crawl (2019), but also more psychological or paranormal ones such as Mirrors (2008) and The 9th Life of Luis Drax (2016) – and Horns (2013). Oxygen successfully adds to his list of horror/thriller diversity.

Despite their similarities and differences, I will make only one comparison between Buried and Oxygen: The identical dolly-out shot. I am sure Aja has watched Rodrigo Cortés’ film and I found it very interesting, even peculiar, that the exact same shot was used. Anyway, if you haven’t watched Buried, and you somewhat liked Oxygen, then it’s a must-watch!

Last but most certainly not least, Mélanie Laurent nails her part and without her superb performance, everything else would have failed. She’s absolutely amazing and gets my round of applause!

Stay safe!

Crawl (2019): Action / Drama / Horror

2d7bf70c3e0abb1f2ca4f8986374855d.jpg

During a category 5 hurricane, a young woman attempts to save her trapped, estranged father from his flooding and inundated with alligators basement.

An action, drama, horror flick that will make you forget your problems for about an hour and a half. Alexandre Aja makes Crawl a tad more serious than Piranha 3D (2010), adding a pinch of a background story to the characters that is very early washed away by the flood and replaced by gimmicks and cliches. Unfortunately, it is easily forgettable. It leaves you with nothing to talk or think about once the end credits start scrolling down. Kaya Scodelario is definitely the right actress for the role and one day we’ll get to watch her in a film that will leave us with our jaw dropped. She’s an extremely talented actress and she deserves all the spotlight she can get. I’ve been a Barry Pepper fan for years but Crawl is not the reason.

Alexandre Aja will, one day, find the way back and direct a horror that will take your breath away. The horror genre needs him and his unconventional ‘eye’ desperately. He is way better than jump scares and yawnsome sequences that solely rely on sound effects. Haute Tension (2003) and The Hills Have Eyes (2006) are an original and a remake that beats the original respectively which speak volumes of his talent and skills. I don’t know what Space Adventure Cobra (announced) is, but I hope the one after that makes me indeed, once again, forget to breathe.

P.S. I hope Sam Raimi comes back to horror as well. He’s been sorely missed…

You can find it here: https://amzn.to/37rJIav