A social allegory about humanity that takes place in just a few square meters – and in the end it’s about a panna cotta! This is the Spanish genre production The Platform (El Hoyo), which is available now on Netflix. We’ll reveal in our review whether it’s worth taking a look.
Zorion Eguileor (“Pikadero”) is the acting highlight of the film.
The plot summary
In a dystopian future, prisoners live starving in cells stacked on top of each other, from which food is dropped from top to bottom. The prisoners at the top always get something, while those further down are starved and react more and more radically. Among them is Goreng (Ivan Massaqué), who one day wakes up on the platform like Trimagasi (Zorion Eguileor). The slightly older man, armed with a samurai knife, already knows the rules of this prison inside out and guides his new cellmate. But can Goreng really trust him?
Movie meaning of ending
After director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia toured half the world for months with his feature film debut “Der Schacht” in order to present it at various genre festivals, the dystopian chamber play is now reaching German realms via the streaming service Netflix. The premise is very reminiscent of Bong Joon-Ho’s highly acclaimed sci-fi action drama “Snowpiercer”, in which all social classes find themselves on a train whizzing around the globe; the rich at the front, the poor at the back of the train. For “The Platform,” Gaztelu-Urrutia shifts this principle – in the truest sense of the word – vertically: in a prison consisting of several hundred platforms, there are two people on each floor. In the middle of them there is a gap several meters long and wide through which a richly laid table of food passes from top to bottom once a day. Those at the top can serve themselves first. Everyone below has to live on what the people above leave. Admittedly, there are smarter social allegories than “The Platform” or “Snowpiercer”; Especially since both films occasionally formulate their concerns all too clearly. But they’re still a lot of fun.
The food gets onto the platforms via the shaft. Sometimes there is also a person there.
Although it doesn’t require any special interpretive effort to immediately understand the allegorical idea behind “The Platform”, the screenwriting duo of David Desola (“Almacenados”) and Pedro Rivero (“La crisis carnívora”) don’t make it easy: The one of them Goreng, who was chosen as the protagonist, is anything but an easily accessible figure, despite his positive motives. With his rough attitude and his constant suspicious questions to his counterpart (which makes you wonder how this behavior can be reconciled with the fact that Goreng actually agreed to his captivity from the start), the feeling of his unstable psyche is quickly transmitted on the viewer. However, he is no more suitable as an identification figure than any other character here; his behavior is either incomprehensible, naive or flighty. But it is precisely because of this – and of course because of the other prisoners (especially Trimagasi) who are hardly assessable (in)security factors – that the mood quickly turns into pure hysteria. Far too fast for a full-blown character study. On the other hand, it’s just right for a horror experience that puts pressure on you right from the start. The makers of “The Platform” hardly bother with explanatory exposition. Instead, it almost seems like a psychosocial experiment when the camera simply captures what people here will probably do under the pressure of the situation.
This feeling that anything can happen here at any time is underpinned by isolated moments of shock: again and again, bodies suddenly fall through The Platform from above, either hitting the ends of the platforms or rushing straight into the depths. And the food table doesn’t always only contain leftovers from those above. In addition, Goreng changes his platform location in the prison several times, so that as a viewer you can get a good impression of what the situation must be like for both those at the top and those at the bottom. In return, cameraman Jon D. Domínguez (“Open Windows”) sometimes finds very drastic images (in Germany, “The Platform” can only be viewed after entering the youth protection code), which become particularly intense when Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia explores the instinct-driven realms of the cannibal horror subgenre. But “Der Schacht” is not a splatter orgy. The director never exposes the violence for the sheer enjoyment of it. Instead, many moments containing gore seem simply necessary in their appearance in order to dress the ultimate exceptional situation in appropriate images. This is not for the faint-hearted.
Lead actor Ivan Massague (“Pan’s Labyrinth”) gives a passable, if not outstanding, performance as a psychologically progressively more and more freely rotating Goreng. But he is always strongest when he is bound and gagged somewhere and has to fear for his life. His cellmate Zorion Eguileor (“Pikadero”) On the other hand, he has completely embraced the intimidating presence of his disgusting figure and is completely convincing. Something that can unfortunately only be said to a limited extent about the film, which is undoubtedly entertaining and very entertaining in a morbid way. What turns out to be a bit of a shame about “The Platform” is that the makers end up trying to explain everything a little too much. This starts with a handful of interspersed flashbacks that tell us more about the most important characters than is actually necessary for the film experience; on the contrary: by breaking down what is shown too much, some of the charm of the Schacht mystery is lost. It goes so far that “The Platform” even answers all existential questions with the very last scene. The film – similar to “Cube”, which is related from an architectural point of view alone – would be ideal for leaving the viewer with the question of what they have actually seen in the last hour and a half. In addition, it also highlights the already clumsy idea of allegory once again. In the end, that doesn’t make “The Platform” a bad film. But one that makes it clear that those responsible had little trust in their viewers. Maybe one of the late episodes of “Snowpiercer”. As is well known, it was considered too complex for its audience.
Conclusion: “The Platform” is a rather clumsy social allegory, but director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia implements it in an appealing and bloody way. Until in the last third you get the impression that the makers didn’t want to trust their audience with an open mystery and a lack of answers. This makes the film lose some of its appeal.
“The Platform” is now available to stream on Netflix.