Amid theater closures and cancellations of big-name projects, Netflix keeps delivering the goods, most notably through its “Tiger King” docuseries, and the March 20 streaming debuts of “The Platform,” a 2019 Spanish science fiction/horror film that you’ll find that you can’t turn away from.
“The Platform” follows Goreng (Iván Massagué), a young man in his mid- to late-20s who enters a tower-style prison in exchange for a prestigious degree. The prison is designed such that each cell is stacked on top of each other, with a hole in the middle of them all, where a slab of food descends from floor 0 to the bottom floor each day, before shooting back up at terminal velocity, with the top 10 floors getting the best pickings, leaving no food for those at the bottom. Each prisoner is allowed one item of their choosing to bring with them into the prison, and Goreng chooses a copy of Don Quixote. Prisoners can do whatever they want in the tower, including murder and cannibalism to survive.
Each month they are gassed and transported to a different floor, with most prisoners presumably spending time both on the top floors, who act gluttonously, and the bottom floors, where they have to resort to cannibalism to eat. If they are caught hoarding food after the platform goes below their floor, their cells either become so hot or so cold that it will kill them.
Goreng has a few companions during his time in the tower. The most memorable of which is his first roommate, Trimagasi (Zorion Eguileor) who informs Goreng of how the tower works, and becomes somewhat of a mentor to him. Trimagasi is an old man put in the tower for murder, and chose a self-sharpening blade called the Samurai Plus as his item in the hole. Without spoiling too much (light spoilers) Trimagasi doesn’t survive long in the film, but appears as a ghostly apparition, haunting Goreng, which becomes a theme of the film, as his isolation drives him mad. (light spoilers end).
There is cannibalism in this movie, and it’s done remarkably well. You won’t find the cartoonish cannibalism found in Sir Anthony Hopkins’ later Hannibal movies; the film dives into the deep psychological torture borne form hunger that pushes these people to eat each other in order to live. It’s horrifying and demoralizing.
There are other great characters in this film as well, such as Miharu (Alexandra Masangkay), a disheveled woman who always kills her roommate before riding the platform down as low as she can, in search of her son. She adds a necessary chaotic element that keeps the film unpredictable.
There’s also Imoguiri (Antonia San Juan), a former worker for the tower of 25 years that volunteers to participate in it, who helps Goreng understand more about it.
And finally, there’s Baharat (Emilio Buale Coka), another roommate of Goreng’s who becomes of great importance in the third act of the movie, as they attempt to break its system in hopes of putting an end to the tower once and for all. Baharat is loyal and courageous, and ends up being Goreng’s greatest ally.
“The Platform” is thought-provoking, provocative, engaging, and is very well-stylized and edited. You’ll immediately notice that the English dubbing is a bit off for this film if you choose to watch it that way, but it doesn’t matter, and like “Narcos” and “Parasite”, this film works perfectly well with subtitles.
To Netflix: Keep these good foreign films coming. While this virus has brought production of so many films to a standstill, there is no better time to dive into the wealth of foreign films available on streaming.
“The Platform” gets an 8/10