Survivalist thriller ‘Keep Breathing’ adds a cathartic aspect to storytelling

Melissa Barrera as Liv and Austin Stowell as Sam in a scene from Keep Breathing.

Melissa Barrera as Liv and Austin Stowell as Sam in a scene from Keep Breathing.

Published Aug 7, 2022


Survivalists series with a plane crash as the impetus for the storytelling generally fare well. Some of the best examples of this are “Lost”, “Departure” and “Manifest”.

“Keep Breathing”, the latest 6-part offering on Netflix, follows this trope but adds a cathartic aspect to it.

Liv (Melissa Barrera of “Scream” fame), an overachiever lawyer, is at the heart of the story, which opens with her at the airport desperate to get to Unuvik.

When the flight is cancelled due to the weather, she pleads with Sam (Austin Stowell) and his companion to give her a ride since they are headed to the same destination on their charted plane.

Reluctant at first, Sam eventually agrees. However, the plane crashes en route and plummets into the water in the middle of nowhere.

The pilot sustains serious injuries in the crash and doesn’t make it. Sam, who can’t swim, flails in the freezing water and Liv, after getting him to calm down, helps him ashore.

Sadly, he succumbs to an injury, too.

Melissa Barrera as Liv in Keep Breathing. Picture: Ricardo Hubbs/Netflix © 2022

Stranded in this stretch of forest, Liv relies on all she learned in school and from her father to help her survive.

Amid doing so, she has flashbacks to defining moments in her life - being abandoned by her insouciant artist mother while also coping with losing her father to cancer.

In the early stages of pregnancy, she also re-evaluates her actions with her baby daddy.

The moments of clarity amid very trying circumstances unleash a tenacity and resilience that is unparalleled.

Barrera is phenomenal in this role. Her bouts of simple joy amid a mountain of frustrations leave the audience inspired and championing her journey to safety.

Like most people struggling with childhood issues, Liv is haunted by her mother’s departure. Her independence becomes her strength as well as weakness - and it is something she grapples with when she sabotages her relationship.

“Keep Breathing” is a show that, thematically, holds a mirror to those character flaws that keep one from living a more fulfilled life.

While thought-provoking, it also celebrates fortitude under the most trying circumstances.