Title: The Platform (2019)
Director: Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia
Release Date: March 20, 2020 (Netflix)
Runtime: 94 mins
Production Companies: Basque Films / Mr. Miyagi Films / Plataforma La Película / A.I.E.
Blood, Intestines, And… Cake?
If you were thinking of sitting to watch The Platform over a nice Netflix TV dinner with the family, well… don’t. This isn’t to say that The Platform, directed by Galder Gatelu-Urrutia and released on Netflix on March 20 of last year, isn’t worth checking out—it most certainly is. I’d just recommend doing so on an empty stomach.
Though we have seen countless films provide grounds for intellectual conversations on the hierarchical disparities of modern-day society, The Platform lays these grounds in a manner decidedly more head-on. The setting of the film is a concrete monolith that its inhabitants call “The Hole.” From the onset, it is a little unclear why its inhabitants find themselves there in the first place — is it some kind of prison? An insanely unorthodox sobriety center? A government-mandated social experiment? Either way, the “Vertical Self-Management Center” or “VSMC” as it is more aseptically termed for those lucky enough to be on the outside, is not somewhere I’d want to be caught dead (or worse… alive).
Regardless of the different reasons everyone seems to have found themselves there, the every-day schedule inside the structure is simple (and horrifying): once daily, you are fed. This food is meticulously composed of various delicacies that residents of “The Hole” indicated once upon a time as their favorite dishes. Thinking about all this food might leave your mouth watering until you realize the catch — they all have to share. The platform of food is gradually lowered every day from Level 1 down through the devil only knows how far — but plenty far enough for the food to have been long since eaten. Other than the chaos brought on by this daily meal, inhabitants are left with little entertainment in their unenriched grey cells, with the company of one randomly assigned mate and their one chosen object.
Here Comes The Platform
The introduction of the above-described world came off a touch heavy-handed in the opening conversation between main character Goreng (Ivan Massagué ) and original cellmate Trimagasi (Zorion Eguileor). I find dialogue that beats the watcher over the head with the theme (particularly one so intentionally apparent) irksome to say the least and downright insulting to the intellectual capabilities of the viewer to say the most. Subtext, people! We all would have gotten there eventually! But I digress. All this to say, I applaud The Platform for creating a remarkably “clean” way of studying the social stratification of the haves and have-nots, in a manner I’ve never seen done quite so piercingly.
So let’s get back to the plot: Did I mention that just because you get lucky and end up on Level 6 one day, it doesn’t mean you will be there next month? That’s right, in this hell-“Hole,” you will be drugged and taken to another random floor for every month you’re sentenced to stay there. So when our protagonist Goreng starts off on Level 48, we realize quickly that this is one of the better levels that he could end up on. Even though the food is already well picked over by the time it gets to Level 48, at least there is food.
And just after I think I’ve swallowed all of the terrifying prospects that this social system entails, an off-hand comment from cellmate Trimagasi sends my stomach into knots as we realize something else — Trimagasi, and others, have spent time on some of the lower levels, the ones that don’t get any food. Trimagasi, and others, are still alive. But… how?
This last part is why I wouldn’t recommend it as a Netflix-and-chill.
Tracking The Platform’s Gory Details
Now, I hate gore. I have always hated gore, and I will always hate gore. Not only am I a huge wimp who covers her eyes and ears during the scariest bits of a movie, but I think that gore, similar to the over-use of swearing in comedy, is cheap. It’s much harder (again, subtext and subtlety) to work with shadows and illusions to coax us into imagining what’s going on than it is to show us. I believe, arguably, that the former is always going to be the more thrilling route.
Basically, that was just a long-winded way of saying: don’t get too attached to that cute dachshund.
Once I steeled my stomach, it was fascinating (in the way a train-wreck is fascinating) to watch the human behavior portrayed throughout the film. Though everyone was subject to end up at random on a super high, middle, or lower “class” Level at the start of each month, it was chilling to see that almost everyone behaved identically regardless of their station — with little regard for those above or below. It was the purest demonstration of the “Tragedy of the Commons” theory I’ve ever witnessed, and while some of it was hammed up, I have little faith that a real “The Hole” would play out much more civilly than what was portrayed in the film.
Though we do get a sense of hope in the last five minutes of the film in the form of a small girl who Goreng deems “The Message” to send to “the people above,” the ending is intentionally ambiguous. The audience is left wondering whether or not this little girl, seemingly the only representation of purity in this Dante’s Inferno-esque world, will be enough to persuade us to change our selfish ways at last.
VERDICT: Overall, “The Platform” is one of the more thought provoking psychological thrillers on Netflix right now, providing fertile grounds for conversations on social structure and the injustices of wealth disparities. Though I wasn’t a fan of the excessive levels of gore and the overt introductory dialogue, the overall shock-factor of this novel piece forces audiences to think about the world differently. You will not walk away from “The Platform” unscathed, and might even suffer a sleepless night as I did, but I hope that pieces like this will be like “The Message” at the end of the story — is this really the world that we all want our children to live in?
Nerdy Nugget: According to IMDb, the two prisoners who are sitting naked in the inflatable kiddie pool fighting over a watermelon in one of the later scenes are actually the script writers, David Desola and Pedro Rivero! Talk about getting to know one another on a more personal Level!
Did you watch The Platform on Netflix? If you had to go into “The Hole,” what item would you take? Let us know what you thought in the comments below!
- There’s a super cute dachshund
- Thought provoking piece on societal structure
- Some delicious looking cake (until people step on it)
- [SPOILER] There ceases to be a super cute dachshund
- Excessive amounts of gore (but you might be into that kinda thing)
- Not a lot of sympathy evoked for any one character