Cinema. It’s a wonderful medium that delivers entertainment around the world, tuning its audience into every conceivable emotion humanity can experience. Thankfully as an art-form it has yet to achieve the ability to physically attack the viewer; were that to be the case, it’s unlikely that many of us would come out of The Platform alive.
Netflix’s latest attempt to conquer the globe – titled El hoyo (The Hole) in its native Spanish – is a sci-fi/horror/thriller obsessed with the injustices of social stratification, much like this year’s Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Parasite. However, where Bong Joon Ho’s modern classic opted for a crisp, clean, blackly-comic critique of modern capitalism, director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia is much happier to wade into the worlds of Saw-meets-Cube to create a vision of food, faeces and ferocity. It won’t leave the memory in a hurry.
As a narrative it’s fairly simple: a prison (or ‘Vertical Self-Management Centre’) of unknown levels assigns two inmates to a floor. Each day a food platform descends through the levels allowing the prisoners a chance to eat. Level one has the pick of the meals, level two gets what’s left, level three has what remains after this and so on down through hundreds of floors. As a metaphor, it’s radically unsubtle and unafraid to give the audience a headache as it aggressively doubles down on the point from start to finish.
Interestingly, David Desola and Pedro Rivero’s screenplay doesn’t just take aim at the easy target of capitalist greed, as it sets aside some time to attack more left-leaning societal structures as well. And despite the lack of solutions to such economic dilemmas, The Platform gleefully blends body-horror and splatter cinema, gruesomely obscuring the true nature of its meek, fence-sitting finale.
Each and every bite is paired with sickly squelching sound effects; gluttony has never looked so vulgar. In the end, it’s hardly radical storytelling, but given the simplicity of the premise, The Platform manages to climb down an outrageous, horrifying rabbit hole all for our viewing pleasure. Just don’t watch it at meal times.