Netflix’s Claustrophobic Test of Netflix’s Sci-Fi Movie Strategy – fr

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Netflix’s Claustrophobic Test of Netflix’s Sci-Fi Movie Strategy – fr


In a new Netflix thriller, a scientist is stuck in a small, confined environment and must find a way to survive as oxygen levels get dangerously low. If this sounds familiar, you may have recently watched Stowaway, the hit Netflix film starring Anna Kendrick, the latest high-profile performer to explore the psychological and moral complexities of outer space. But it is also the basic description of Oxygen, a second space-limited, low-oxygen thriller on Netflix – and yet another example of the streaming service colonizing territory once occupied by traditional versions of the studios.

Oxygen is less of a pure astronaut story than either Stowaway or the Netflix offer from last winter Midnight sky. Much of this French film takes place in a room so small that the woman (Mélanie Laurent) it contains can barely sit up, let alone get up and walk around. It’s an unprecedented formal challenge for director Alexandre Aja, following his satisfying thriller in Limited Location Ramps, where a young woman clashed with wicked alligators in a flooded house. In the beginning, the woman at the center of Oxygen does not know more about the capsule in which it is located than the public. She wakes up disoriented and terrified, with only flashes of memories indicating who she is, or why she was wrapped in some sort of futuristic, breathable plastic. (Initially, the covered protrusion of its jaw resembles the silhouette of the xenomorph of Alien.) She has been in cryo-sleep for an undetermined amount of time and memory is slow to come back.


Photo: Shanna Besson / Netflix

Her immediate challenge, however, is appallingly clear: The oxygen levels in her capsule are about 35% and dropping, and she has to grope through a voice-activated computer interface whose solutions – sedatives, for the most part. – are offered with threatening insistence. Her capsule is locked, and while she is able to figure out how to make outgoing phone calls, reception is fuzzy and finding the right contact information takes a lot of trial and error. Logistics of Oxygen are more science fiction than the human drama of Stowaway. In the latter, much of the dialogue addresses moral and ethical dilemmas in the attempt to save both individual lives and a critically important mission. In Oxygen, Laurent must repeatedly dodge an automated hypodermic needle, advancing on it like an aggressive snake.

Oxygen is a cheesy exploitation thriller, to an extent, with the capture that Aja has become adept at locating both human interest and immediacy within the confines of cheesy exploitation thrillers. A sin Ramps, he knows when to lean on his central performer, and tells much of his story through Laurent’s acting, which balances intelligence and resourcefulness with what the MTV Movie Awards have sometimes called performance. “Scared as shit”. Oxygen isn’t a horror movie, but Aja’s horror background seems to push him to tighten the suspense, even flirting with moments of body horror when Lauren has to play with the hits that have kept her character in the game. cryo, and now threaten to overturn her decisions if she can’t take control of the computer.

OxygenMuch of the show’s biggest sci-fi ideas are inspired by other more thoughtful films, and it takes some time before the ultimately twisted story begins to deliver some real surprises. (The first big turning point, regarding the location of Laurent’s capsule-shaped structure, is something many viewers will assume upon opening.) But Aja’s film was shot during the summer pandemic. 2020, and there are faint echoes of life in quarantine in watching someone try to figure out their identity by sifting through digital photos, like someone scrolling through their Instagram feed to remember their own Before Times. .

Oxygen Also feels like a pandemic movie due to its premiere on Netflix, a service whose ability to echo our tastes and cinematic experiences has apparently grown over the past year or so. Both Oxygen and Stowaway closely resemble the movies that have been played in theaters, whether that is the danger Gravity or Ramps, the claustrophobie of Buried or Telephone booth, or the careful resolution of problems The Martian. This is not always a given with Netflix originals, some of which inevitably look more like TV movies than refugees from cinemas. Oxygen is definitely a cut above in this department; its resemblance to previous films also makes this one a bit odd.


Photo: Shanna Besson / Netflix

It is not uncommon for mainstream films to reflect the zeitgeist, whether intentionally or not. In this direction, Oxygen, Stowaway and Midnight sky all belong to the recent spectrum of Hollywood films that explore space travel, the peril of astronauts, and the possibility of colonization, with COVID-19 providing a new lens for their isolated, repopulation-centric stories. Yet these Netflix thrillers also feel like they’ve been scaled down and recalibrated for a particular type of home watching experience, as if they exist in their own enclosed space.

In some ways, this is a promising development; Oxygen is small-scale science fiction, with thrills and minimal explosion, as much a locked pod mystery as anything else. Caught next Stowaway, through, and at such proximity, the films feel like an A / B algorithm testing similar stories, scanning audiences for an optimal response that will inform future astronaut tales.

This is where the cheaper thrills and intrigues of Oxygen give it an advantage. While StowawayAja’s thought-provoking attempts add up to a film that convincingly mimics other narratives from space without finding her own voice, Aja’s delight in putting viewers through a wringer is honest. The same goes for the limits of its film (and its distributor), where the immensity of future technology must be adaptable to an unspectacular 40-inch television screen. Sometimes i watch Oxygen simulates this futuristic confinement too well. Breathing air may be depleted, but the contents will continue to bubble forever.

Oxygen is now streaming on Netflix.

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