The Platform – A Terrific Idea Lost in Gore

Arguably one of the most talked about films in recent times after its availability on Netflix serves a bloody good idea, which gets lost somewhere in all the savage gore.

A Spanish-language Thriller is trending lately on Netflix in multiple countries, and India is no exception. I was intrigued after I read about the film, which was hot property last year after its screening at Toronto Film Festival. And after reading the simple yet different plot premise, ‘The Platform” , or El Hoyo in Spanish, did seem an attractive bet during these times of lockdown.

The Platform starts of with Goreng (Iván Massagué), the main protagonist, waking up with his future colleague Trimagasi (Zorion Eguileor) on the 33rd level of a prison style place. Trimagasi knows the rules governing this weird place: two people per level, and an unknown number of them. If you go up you have more chances of survival, if you go lower you may starve. Each day, a large rectangle platform will be lowered down from the top with all kinds of foods and desserts intended for their consumption. The only downside here is the amount of food will gradually reduce as jail inmates from the top floors have hogged on whatever was available for them, leaving either scrap or possibly nothing at all for the rest who occupy the bottom levels.

There is absolutely no doubt “The Platform” starts with promise. 15 minutes in, and you get intrigued by the set-up and the plot. While Goreng refuses to feed off from the platform initially, his old cell mate Trimagasi hogs off the soiled food from the platform without any inhibition. Goreng gradually builds a good relationship with his temporary cell-mate, and their camaraderie has some poignant moments. However, the pace of the movie does dip after that , with some occasional suicides tumbling past and a weird young woman (Alexandra Masangkay) sometimes riding the platform, apparently to search floors for her missing child.

Over the next few weeks or months, Goreng meets more people as cell mates, Imoguiri (Antonia San Juan), a former employee of The Hole, and Baharat (Emilio Buale) a man looking for something to believe in. The final 30 minutes (without revealing much) is about how Goreng and Baharat decide to find out what lies at the bottom of all the levels by hopping on the platform itself.

“The Platform’ does have a promising plot – kudos to screenwriters Pedro Rivero and David Desola for attempting a social commentary from a simple plot. However, that IS the biggest concern for most filmmakers – a simple plot. And somewhere, “The Platform” too suffers from that problem. Director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia makes his full-feature debut from this brave attempt, but somewhere the wafer-thin screenplay lets him down.The multiple twists and turns go in a number of directions, reflecting the numerous aspects of society and human nature, but most times it just seems aimless. Galder tries to make an important social commentary on social discrimination, but the impact is heavily diluted especially due to the the twisted and ambiguous end. A similar thing was successfully tried last year by Bong Joon Ho, who deservedly swept the Oscars with “Parasite”.

‘The Platform” is just 94 minutes long, but still seems to drag at places. The dark environment and the angst of the characters are well captured by the cinematography. One of the major positives for the film is definitely the ensemble. No doubts Iván Massagué does well in the lead, but his first cell mate Trimagasi, played brilliantly by Zorion Eguileor, takes top honors in the acting department. Trimagasi stays with you for long after the movie ends.

Considering this is Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia ‘s debut film, The Platform is brave and tries to be meaningful. But the message somewhere gets lost amidst the blood, gore and a muddled end.

Rating: 2.75/5

Bottom-line: Considering the short duration of “The Platform” and the current lockdown scenario due to coronavirus, you may give this a watch on Netflix to understand the hype.