The Platform stars Ivan Massague, Zorion Eguileor, and Emilio Buale Coka and was directed by Galder Gazetelu-Urrutia. It tells the story of Goreng, played by Ivan Massague, who finds himself in a vertical prison. He soon realizes that survival there will be difficult cause daily food rations descend on a platform through the prison with no limit on how much these who are above can take.
Social commentary films come in two basic flavors. You’ve got the movies that intricately weave their messages into a complex or sophisticated story and then you’ve got the movies that blatantly show you their message from the start and then repeatedly hit you in the face with it just to make sure you understand. As viewers, we have a tendency to gravitate towards and praise the former variety, but just cause a movie’s extremely blunt and obvious with its message doesn’t mean it’s any less effective… it’s just less subtle. And let me tell you, The Platform is anything but subtle.
Just from the premise alone, it’s pretty easy to discern what this movie’s about. Sure, you’ve got the surface level reading of it as a thriller set in a vertical prison with limited food. But the allegorical nature of the story will be apparent to even the least perceptive of viewers. The so-called vertical self-management system is obviously representative of class structure. Those closer to Level 0 are better off while those who are further down struggle to survive. But this movie goes beyond just acknowledging the existence of a class structure or showcasing the disparity between the haves and have-nots.
It really explores the unusual and counterintuitive psychology that develops as a result of that disparity. Unlike in the real social class construct, these characters have frequent and seemingly random mobility within their class system. One month they might be at Level 6, the next month they might be down at level 171. And that frequent movement means that nearly everybody in the prison has not only experienced times of relative ease, but also times of severe hardship. One would think that that would result in some empathy for those on lower levels. That people who were just starving to death the month before who are now on a higher level might eat just a little bit less in the hopes that the people now occupying their former level won’t have to suffer as much as they did.
But instead, time and time again, we see greed and revenge and spite. Rather than trying to end the toxic cycle, the prisoners develop an eat or be eaten mindset. They’re perpetually jealous of and angry at those on the levels above them and take that anger out on those on the levels below them in the hopes that some of those people were the ones who were above them the previous month. The constant selfishness of those in this vertical system also leads them to deny responsibility for their actions.
Everything gets blamed on the people above and so the cycle continues. Like I said before, the messages and metaphors of this movie are extremely obvious. But, they’re also really effectively presented as the main premise of this dystopian sci-fi thriller. It’s a very contained movie and you can really think of it as being shot in a single location. But that doesn’t dampen the intensity of this movie one bit. It’s really compelling, but also very uncomfortable.
It’s grimy and gross at times. But it also moves very quickly and there are some brutal moments and extremely tense scenes. The allegorical nature of the story is always in the back of your mind, but when you’re actually watching the movie, your focus is on Goreng. You want him to survive and find yourself really rooting for some of the missions he sets out on during the movie. And so, despite its very heavy-handed message and required suspension of disbelief, this movie ends up working on a number of levels. No pun intended… obviously. Alright let’s talk about the pros and cons. Pro number one is the social commentary.
Horror films and thrillers are frequently the most effective cinematic delivery vehicles for social messages and that trend seems to hold true here. The story puts a burning spotlight on wealth inequality and the disparity between social classes, but perhaps most damningly, shines that light on human nature as well. It’s not just about the haves and have-nots, but also about what the presence of that type of unequal system can do to the mindsets of those trapped within it. The second pros is the tension. You wouldn’t necessarily think that a movie almost entirely set in a square concrete cell would be intense, but this one really is. There’s some obvious long-term tension regarding Goreng’s survival as he faces periods of food scarcity, but the presence of other characters up that tension as well.
The whole movie has this veil of unpredictability pulled over it. We never know what level Goreng’s gonna wake up on. We don’t know what type of person his cellmate will be or if they can be trusted and we don’t know what or who might be on that platform each day. On the con side, the biggest issue is probably how heavy-handed the message is. Without even watching the movie, you already know exactly what concepts and issues it’s trying to shed a light on. The vertical system, the food distribution, even the juxtaposition between life on Level 0 and life in the lowest levels… it’s all so obvious. Again, obvious doesn’t mean it’s bad, it’s just really shoved in your face which might bother some viewers.
The second con is how frustrating the movie can be at points. Unfortunately, I can’t really explain what I mean without spoiling things, so I’m gonna have to keep this really vague. Some of this frustration I think counts as a true con cause it entails things that aren’t explained very well or at all. Other aspects of this frustration though are inherent to the plot, so they were intentional… just something that bothered me. Before I give you my rating and recommendations, I want to remind you that if you’re interested in buying any of the films I mentioned today, I do have affiliate links for all of them in the description below. I get a small commission from anything you buy using one of my links, so I’d really appreciate if you’d use them if you’re in the market for any of these movies. I’m gonna give The Platform 3.5 out of 5 paws. This was a tight thriller with some really tense moments and a whole lot to say. I would recommend The Platform if you like social thrillers.
We’ve had quite a few horror-thrillers tackle various social issues over the last few years and now we’ve got one specifically targeting class structure and wealth inequality. Even if you don’t really care about the social commentary side of things, this is still a really solid and intense single-location thriller. Just make sure you change the audio to the original Spanish. For me at least, Netflix defaulted to a version that was dubbed in English, so do yourself a favor and change the settings so you’re watching with subtitles instead. If you liked The Platform, I would recommend Snowpiercer for another dystopian thriller that tackles issues with social class structure.
Rather than being vertically separated, characters in that movie are relegated to certain sections of a high-speed train. If you want another recent social horror-thriller, you should definitely check out Us. That one’s got more of a standard horror angle to it, but it too provides commentary on the haves and have-nots and literally those who are above and those who are below. And if you want another socially conscious movie that explores human nature and government oversight, then you might want to watch V for Vendetta.
It’s a very different type of story, but it has a pretty similar tone and some overlapping messages. Alright, a couple questions for you guys. Number one: Have you seen The Platform? If so, what’d you think of it? And number two: What one item would you bring into the pit with you? Be sure to leave your answers in the comments below so we can get a discussion going.