Recommendation: Lovecraftian dread mixed with psychological despair with a heaping serving of cultural relevance mix simply and effectively. 8/10
IMDB Synopsis: A vertical prison with one cell per level. Two people per cell. One only food platform and two minutes per day to feed from up to down. An endless nightmare trapped in The Pit.
The Platform, the latest Netflix horror import (this being from Spain), is an economical masterclass in anxiety-inducing dread and unending despair. But more than a horror movie set in a bauhaus-ian prison, director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia’s film reveals so much depth as the viewer descends into madness—literally and psychologically—with the protagonist. It’s about capitalism, a theme of recent years (eat the rich!), but it is similarly about what the desperate will do to survive, even at the expense of their fellow downtrodden.
Set in a seemingly unending vertical prison called The Pit, our protagonist Goreng (Iván Massagué), a bookish type, wakes up on level 48 in a sparse cell: two beds, a sink/toilet/mirror and a fellow prisoner. The exposition comes quickly and quirkily from Goreng’s first roommate Trimagasi (Zorion Eguileor): The food comes down once a day, you eat what’s those above you didn’t eat, and you don’t save anything. This creates a nightmarish hierarchy, yet the allegory is clear; a plainly disguised conceit to set up a clash between the have and have-nots. However, the social order is upset every month, as the Pit is gassed and everyone wakes up on a new floor.
With the simple rules of the prison out in the open, The Platform is free to roam. The Pit’s inhabitants are a ringer for society in a capitalist system. Those few at the top gorge themselves while the the scraps trickle down, never sustaining those at the bottom who must fight or simply give up. It’s very much of the time as it echoes the hopelessness of today. So as we see Goreng’s monthlong stints on various floors (with various roommates), each is an illustration of the above in the eat-or-be-eaten game of survival (sometimes literally). Cannibalism, murder, altruism, hope, selfishness, dementia, power dynamics, authoritarianism, and the Basie instincts of desperate men all clash throughout in a clear yet effective allegory.
The only thinly fleshed out portion of the story is who is behind the Pit, why it exists, and what it’s larger purpose is. But one need not ruminate on the larger world, as The Platform works as a precise study into survival states of the human psyche (a Scandinavian designed The Descent, if you will). But in the current climate of the world, with so much anxiety, doubt, and growing class divide, The Platform manages to both entertain while feeling very of the moment.
MVP: Zorion Eguileor as Trimagasi is pitch perfect as a supporting actor. The journey he takes with Goreng is a perfect compliment and the MVP of the movie.
Highlights: There are some food scenes that are beautiful. The entire film is washed over in anxious dread which makes a wonderful viewing experience. The fact there are no clear answers or resolutions is a great take.
Director: Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia
Studio: Netflix // Release date: March 20, 2020 (streaming USA)