Current Issue #488

Film Review:
The Platform (El Hoyo)

The Spanish-language début feature from director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia is a satirical-sci-fi-cum-horror-drama that strains to make social-commentating points about capitalism and classism amid toilet jokes and cannibalistic threats. 

Reminiscent of similarly nearly-one-set minimalist dramas like Cube, it begins well, flounders about, throws hefty themes in our faces and finally doesn’t know where to go, winding up in a baffling fashion guaranteed to annoy almost everyone.

Goreng (Iván Massagué) awakens on Level 48 of a prison and meets his cellmate, the older, creepier Trimagasi (Zorion Eguileor). This is no typical correctional facility though: the place is part of a tower of apparently gigantic size, and every day a platform is lowered through a hole in the centre of the room upon which the remains of a huge gourmet meal are temporarily placed. Trimagasi gorges himself upon the soiled scraps but Goreng refuses at first, and it immediately becomes clear that this is going to be a blatantly symbolic tale, with the worst offenders starving and murdering each other as we go further down, occasional suicides tumbling past and a freaky young woman (Alexandra Masangkay) sometimes riding the platform so she can help out when the narrative turns nasty.

After his time on 48, Goreng finds himself on Level 33 with Imoguiri (Antonia San Juan), an employee of “The Administration” who euphemistically refers to “The Pit” or “The Hole” as “a vertical self-management centre” (!), and tries hard not to see what a horrendous place she’s been sending people to over so many years. Ugly plot tricks kick in, and eventually Baharat (Emilio Buale Coka) appears with a rope and lots of lofty leftie ideals, all of which are shown to be pretty bloody hopeless.

Impressively produced on what must have been a low budget and with strong work from Massagué, this offers everything from knife fights and a little light flesh-eating, to heavy-duty political allegorising and projectile bowel evacuations. Some out there will naturally celebrate its thematic grandstanding, but no one could possibly be happy with that final few minutes.

Um… que?

Reviewer Rating

The Platform (MA) is now streaming on Netflix

DM Bradley

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