Everything in Meander (2021) is dark and claustrophobic. Director Mathieu Turi is capable of creating an oppressive ambience by playing his cards right. Like other modern horror movies of this kind, such as Cube (1998), Buried (2010), the recent Spanish movie The Platform (2019), or the well-known saga Saw, Meander succeeds in causing an unpleasant effect upon the spectator. The characteristic feeling of carrying a burden, being under pressure, or having a knot in your stomach is magnificently achieved by Turi’s film.
The French director depicts a horrific situation where a young mother, Lisa (Gaia Weiss), who has lost her nine years old daughter, experiences a traumatic episode with Adam (Peter Franzén) and wakes up in a strange place full of tubes and pipelines. There, she will have to pass several tests in order to fight for her life.
Aesthetics also contribute to increasing the claustrophobic sensation. After Lisa is dropped into the tube scenario, the only source of light that she has is her bracelet. On this device she can also check how much time is left for her to pass different tests. When that countdown is over, she must take shelter if she wants to survive.
Gore plays an important role in creating this fearful environment. As the main character advances through the tubes, disgusting scenes happen one after another. Mutilations, decomposing corpses, and blood will fill the screen at certain moments. By doing that, the director makes us to put ourselves in Lisa’s place, sharing her desire to escape from that hideous place.
As the movie goes on, there is a rising crescendo of an oppressive feeling invading us caused by watching a person suffering, confined in a narrow space. And in this context, “confining” is the perfect word to define the situation, insomuch that the more I watch this film, the more situations caused by the lockdown come to my mind.
Watch it this way: a lonely person, struggling with the problem of being alone between four walls where everything seems to be small, wants to escape but there is no way out, at least at first sight. When Lisa reaches what seems to be a fleeting glimpse of freedom, she is taken back to the starting point. All advances reached until that moment are erased, and she is again confined in the place all have begun. It strikes me that Turi’s movie holds a strong resemblance with the near past situation we all were forced to live in, and by playing with this matter, it becomes a more powerful picture.
Saying that, I think that Turi's film is drawing parallels between mental health problems that derivate from the lockdown and the anguish experienced by Lisa. The film does a good job at depicting this issue, and the futuristic fantasy involved in the ending of the film will make you think about it.