Spoilers know the cake is a lie.

I found it very interesting that this movie’s original title, El Hoyo, literally means “the hole”, while the english translation decided to use The Platform as the title. One title focuses on the empty space, the other on what constitutes literally what fills it. This film is literally packed with social meta-commentary shown with movie language throughout the film. If you are already interested, I’d recommend you stop now and go watch it. If you still doubt, let’s see how deep we have to go.

(Credit: Basque Films)

The Platform (2019) was directed by Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia based on the screenplay by David Desola and Pedro Rivero. Two men, Goreng (Ivan Massagué) and Trimagasi (Zorion Eguileur) wake up inside a prison cell. It’s Goreng’s first day in the Vertical Self-Management Center, a prison where the cells are lined up from top to bottom with a hole in the middle. An automatic platform descends each day carrying a banquet of food. The ones at the top get to feast and as it descends, each level only gets the leftovers from the previous one. The ones at the very bottom starve.

Each month, everyone is put to sleep and switched to another level. Each resident is allowed to bring one item with them. Goreng chose a book, Don Quijote, while Trimagasi chose in a self-sharpening knife. The two cellmates couldn’t be more different. Goreng is an intellectual and an idealist. Trimagasi is pragmatic and self-serving. They will become friends by circumstance until the circumstances change.

It’s one of those what if minimalistic situations where your wits and your resilience are put to the test. The film can be quite brutal and even sadistic about how prisoners treat each other, with brutality and entitlement almost instinctively perpetrated by the ones above against the ones below. There’s plenty of characters and developments to meet and several people to harm. It’s a hard film to watch sometimes with gore and even open depictions of cannibalism. Nothing that jaded audiences have not seen before, but the implications feel rather severe.

There are rather significant and memorable characters as we go deeper. We get to meet Miharu (Alexandra Masangkay), a woman looking for her child who sometimes descends with the platform; Imoguiri (Antonia San Juan), a woman diagnosed with cancer that has chosen to come in with her dog Rameses the 2nd and used to work for the Administration; and Baharat (Emilio Buale), who is trying to escape. How these characters fit in the narrative can be inspiring or brutal and often both.

Strongly recommended with slight reservations. Not every audience is going to be able to watch the film. That being said, it’s hard to call it a pure horror film when it’s more of an experimental thriller. Rather that tell you, the film shows you exactly the worst depiction of stratification and unfair wealth (in this case food) distribution. As each glimmer of hope goes out, it is not about sacrificing enough but rather all of it. The finale is both determined and fatalistic. Very much worth a watch if you can handle it, but casual audiences might feel it cuts too deep.

That will do for now.