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Maura Tierney, Adrian Brody, Laila Robins
Written and directed by Richard Shepard
VVS Films 2006
92 minutes

Oxygen is a psychological thriller with a good dose of suspense, but I find it could have done better with more original twists. Just by looking at the box, it was almost like I knew what would happen in the movie, and I was partly right.

Oxygen is the story of a guy (Adrian Brody) who kidnaps a rich man’s wife and buries her alive in the woods. He then tells the rich man that he must give the kidnapper a million dollars within 24 hours or his wife will die underground due to lack of oxygen. Parallel to this story, we follow Madeline Foster (Maura Tierney), a tough NYPD detective. She is on the team that is going to try to find where the woman is buried. Then follows a cat and mouse game between the detective and the kidnapper. Of course, this being an American film we know the good guys will win which is probably why I didn’t really feel the fear of that poor victim, despite very good acting by Laila Robins to show us how afraid she was in the dark box.

There are some fairly good elements of psychological suspense in Oxygen which are probably due to Adrian Brody’s great acting ability to play the psycho Houdini wannabe. On the other hand, some of the hints given in the film spoil some of the mystery in the story.

Overall, I’d say Oxygen is a decent choice for a rental if you like mystery movies on DVD, but don’t expect huge surprises in the story. Writer/director Richard Shepard has done better with movies like The Matador than with this one. I feel he wasn’t fully able to exploit the urban legend of people being buried alive.