The recent release of Netflix’s The Platform (also known as El Hoyo in Spain) couldn’t be more timely enough, given our country’s movement control order (MCO) and the fact we are required to stay home as much as possible. It even becomes among the streaming giant’s most-watched film in their Top 10 list.
And frankly, it’s easy to see why. The movie takes place in a single location — in this case, a dystopian vertical prison — where each floor is occupied by two inmates. Then, each day, a large rectangle platform will be lowered down from the top with all kinds of foods and desserts intended for their consumptions. The only downside here is the amount of food will gradually decrease as inmates from the top floors had their most fills, leaving either scrap or possibly nothing left at all for the rest who occupied on the bottom levels.
Among the inmates that occupied the prison is Goreng (Iván Massagué), who signs up for a six-month stay in exchange for a diploma (don’t ask) and also wanted to quit smoking as well. His only companion happens to be an older inmate named Trimagasi (Zorion Eguileor), who seems to be familiar with the rules of the prison. Explaining the synopsis any further will lead to spoiler territory. Let’s just say it does get ugly, violent and nihilistic as the movie goes further.
No doubt an intriguing premise, with first-time feature director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia clearly draws notable inspirations from like-minded high-concept sci-fi movies such as Cube (1997) and Snowpiercer (2013). Like the latter, The Platform shares the same sociopolitical allegory that touches on the brutal reality of capitalism and class divide. This can be evidently seen within the fundamental structure of the movie’s vertical prison a.k.a. The Pit, where people in the upper levels get the most benefits while those on the lower floors have to deal with the worst-case scenario.
Despite the movie’s seemingly lean 94-minute length, it does get sloppy every now and then with the sagging and its equally repetitive midsection being the obvious culprit. It’s like as if Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia struggling to find meaningful ways to stretch David Desola and Pedro Rivero’s seemingly paper-thin conceptual screenplay.
Fortunately, the director manages to make amends during the extended third-act, which sees Goreng joins forces with another inmate (Emilio Buale Coka’s Baharat) as they decide to find out what lies on the bottom of the levels by hopping on the platform itself.
Cast-wise, Iván Massagué does a good job with his understated performance as Goreng while both Zorion Eguileor and Emilio Buale Coka deliver respective solid supports as the elderly Trimagasi and deeply religious Baharat.