French filmmaker Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes, Piranha 3D) seems to have taken a liking to small spaces. Following his surprisingly solid 2019 horror movie Crawl, Aja is going even more claustrophobic with his new Netflix thriller Oxygen, a film starring Mélanie Laurent as a woman who wakes up in a cryogenic chamber with no memory and a quickly diminishing air supply. Watch the Oxygen teaser below.
Claustrophobic one-location movies can be hit or miss. It can either be a great performance vehicle for an actor or a snoozefest. But given the right performer and the right filmmaker, it could be a sensation. And Crawl director Alexandre Aja certainly has a talent for taking a lightweight, small-space concept and turning it into ripping good time. Penned by Christie LeBlanc, Aja’s latest genre film stars Mélanie Laurent (Tenet) as a woman who wakes up in a cryogenic chamber with no memory and quickly diminishing oxygen supply, sending her into a panic until she hears a woman’s voice warning her that “someone” doesn’t want her to get her memory back.
It’s all very mysterious and intriguing, but we don’t learn any more — and besides, it would probably take away some of the appeal of the closed-space thriller. But judging by this short, tense teaser, we can assume that Laurent’s nameless woman is a subject of some twisted experiment, a rat in a maze, as the imagery suggests.
An actor can make or break a one-person thriller like this, and while I haven’t seen much of Laurent outside of supporting roles, she’s always been solid in films like Tenet or Beginners. But I’m confident that Aja, despite the much, much smaller space of Oxygen, could direct the hell out of this, especially after surprising everyone with the pulpy but very enjoyable monster movie Crawl. If Aja can make a great movie out of killer alligators, I’m sure he can make something good out of Mélanie Laurent in a cryogenic chamber.
Aja produces Oxygen alongside Vincent Maraval, Brahim Chioua, Noëmie Devide, and Gregory Levasseur.
Here is the synopsis to Oxygen:
Oxygen is a French survival thriller directed by Alexandre Aja. The film tells the story of a young woman (Mélanie Laurent, 6 Underground, Inglourious Basterds), who wakes up in a cryogenic pod. She doesn’t remember who she is or how she ended up there. As she’s running out of oxygen, she must rebuild her memory to find a way out of her nightmare.
Oxygen will be debuting on Netflix on May 12, 2021.
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