Saturday, Oct 01, 2022

‘Keep Breathing’ On Netflix Review: A Great Survival Thriller Plot Butchered By An Incredibly Boring Backstory

Outlook rating
2 / 5

Melissa Barrera’s new show on Netflix, ‘Keep Breathing’, promises to be a great survival thriller based in the wilderness of western Canada. But is the castaway story worth your time? Read the full review to find out.

Melissa Barrera In A Still From 'Keep Breathing'
Melissa Barrera In A Still From 'Keep Breathing' Instagram

Show Creator

Martin Gero, Brendan Gall


Maggie Killey, Rebecca Rodriguez


Melissa Barrera, Jeff Wilbusch, Florencia Lozano, Juan Pablo Espinosa, Austin Stowell

What’s The Story

After her private plane crashes in the Canadian wilderness, lone survivor Liv (Melissa Barrera), who is also pregnant, must battle both an unforgiving cold and past personal traumas to stay alive in the harsh environments. As no one knows she is castaway, will she be able to make her way back to civilization? Or will she turn nomad and accept the jungle life? Will she be able to fight the demons of her past traumas which have got her caught up in the forest in the first place? Well, you’ll have to watch the show to find out.

Watch Trailer

What’s Good

Killer Plot, Incredible Locales And Fantastic Cinematography

Castaway stories are not a new storyline. However, whenever there is a castaway story, it’s always someone who’s stuck in the seas. This is one of the rare occasions when the castaway is set in an entirely different locale – amidst dense thick pinewood forests of western Canada. That in itself calls for a great plot and the makers managed to successfully create that thrilling outlook for the show through its trailer.

The locales where ‘Keep Breathing’ has been shot are exquisite. Looking at it as a viewer makes you want to visit these natural beauties, but as the show progresses and you realise that these locales are not fun touristy spots and could lead to one dying if they get stuck there, you sort of start getting a chill run down your spine. Nevertheless, great cinematography by Jon Joffin and Alicia Robbins. The made the viewer totally engrossed in the gorgeous locales with their brilliant camerawork. Laden with drone shots, close camera angles and macro shots, ‘Keep Breathing’ is a visual spectacle.

Melissa Barrera carries the weight of the show on her and has performed well. Despite her character not looking like a tough nut at the start, Barrera manages to bring a never-give-up attitude, which you’ll slowly start to like as the show progresses. Every time she is stuck helpless and mincing in pain in some or the other situation, you’re rooting for her to not give up and finally make it to the end. Barrera has managed to get the audience to become empathetic toward her character within just a couple of episodes in the start. The array of emotions she displays from despair, angst, and frustration to even joy while celebrating small things like lighting up a fire or managing to boil water is praiseworthy.

What’s Bad

Sloppy Writing And Bad Direction

The writing of the show by Brendan Gall, Martin Gero, and Iturri Sosa is the soft spot of the entire show. There are numerous loopholes that, forget a connoisseur, but even a layman would point out.

If you get stuck in the middle of a thick forest, you’re expecting to see a lot of wildlife, aren’t you? Sadly, ‘Keep Breathing’ has just one small scene where a bear comes towards the waterhole, otherwise, there is not a single occasion where there is a wildlife encounter or even the growls of wildlife nearby. Barrera was happily sleeping through the night without any fear of wildlife coming in, despite her being on a small beach by the waterside. Strange!

In regular shows and films, you don’t bother to show the characters going to take a leak throughout the presentation, but when a survival castaway thriller comes along, the makers have always tried to touch upon that aspect. Sadly, in ‘Keep Breathing’ there is never a mention of Barrera going out into the woods to take a leak or a dump. They didn’t have to show it, but even a mention would have played the trick on the viewers.

The direction by Maggie Kiley and Rebecca Rodriguez loses focus right from the very beginning. In a survival thriller, the viewer has come in to watch the thrills and chills and not sit and listen to boring backstories of childhood traumas. Yes, it’s okay that in the middle of a jungle, cast away from the entire world, one starts to ponder and even hallucinate about the past, but never should that become the focus of the show. In ‘Keep Breathing’ Kiley and Rodriguez have spent almost 80 per cent of the screen time in the back stories and hallucinations of the past, which could have easily been cut short and a lot more thrilling present-day stories of survival in the jungle could have been fitted in.

The editing by Mike Banas, Lizzy Calhoun, Tammis Chandler, and Ian Mayberry may have managed to keep the show to just 6 episodes but the unending back stories take the thrill away from the show and make it incredibly boring in the middle. The editors should have tried to not slack the pace with longish shots and they should have kept the pace a bit faster so that the audience has at least some excitement about the show.

Blake Neely’s background score is hardly that pronounced to take the viewer into the shoes of the lead character. It misses out on getting the thrill aspect in place.

None in the supporting cast leave an impact.


Despite being a survival thriller, ‘Keep Breathing’ is incredibly slow-paced. Rather than delving deep into the thrills of being stuck as a castaway in the middle of a dense forest, the story focuses more on the back story of the lead character. Had the fights with the demons of the past been reduced and more chills of a castaway thriller been added, ‘Keep Breathing’ could have been a great watch. Sadly, it’s a great plot which has been squandered with some sloppy writing and lacklustre direction. It’s easily avoidable. I am going with 2 stars, that too just for the brilliant cinematography and the gorgeous locales.