The Platform (2019)
Director(s): Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia
Writer(s): David Desola, Pedro Rivero
Starring: Ivan Massagé, Zordon Eguileor, Emilio Buale
There is nothing new about the relationship between horror flicks and social commentary but it’s been a while since the symbolism of a movie caused hours of self reflection afterwards. Although, to be clear, this was a fun ride of a movie, it smacks the core of your moral fiber and allows you to think about the role you play in current society.
The setup of this movie already pinpoints what message the movie is trying to sell since it’s beautiful in its idea but terrifying in what you know will happen later down the line. A vertical prison of over 300 floors with two inmates per floor are fed once a day with Michelin-Star quality food. However, the catch is that the giant table of food is lowered one floor at a time for two minutes which means as you get deeper below, the depravity and horror of humanity becomes that much more apparent.
The message is pretty direct where those at the top are fed well and turn for the worse as far as greed is concerned while those at the bottom have no food and find themselves doing unimaginable things for survival. The nice twist is that every month, you switch levels so you can feel the full scale of the experiment. One month you may be on level 5 eating the finest foods the world has to offer while in level 299 causes you to look at your cellmate as a giant steak as the days pass on. The interesting yet painful part of the plot is that the massive table of food has enough to feed every cell member if they only took what was required but again, this movie displays the true soul of humankind where you already know that it’s almost impossible for those at the top to ever think about their impact downstream because why would we? There’s so much delicious food in front of us and such limited time to eat it so gorging seems to be the first thing to come our minds because looking out for #1 is in our nature right?
What I love about this concept is that it truly is a representative model to display human instinct and what driving factors could actually make people change. All “prisoners” in the flick are volunteers who are promised different things if they serve out their time in the experiment and vary from people wanting a new start to convicts who want their sins wiped clean. The fact they are volunteers in this social experiment allows for their decisions to be influenced by nothing except what lies beneath their moral core. They weren’t forced to be part of this experiment but know full well they they cannot leave until they serve their time. As predicted as you get lower down in the levels the level of cruelty and horror only increases while the higher levels of the prison create higher levels of greed and gluttony.
What’s wild is the twist where everyone gets to experience various levels of the prison every month and you would you to think after spending time in the lower levels that caused you to commit unspeakable acts that it would create a sort of empathy once you get to a higher level, but NOPE, it actually does the opposite where the human soul becomes even more greedy and depraved once reaching the top because they remember what it was like on the bottom for them and only them so you have to take advantage of what is offered to you at the top. To me, that’s chef’s kiss analogy to how most humans live their lives.
A consistent message throughout the movie is that the spark of empathy within humans is not derived from experience (as much as almost every Disney movie would like you to believe) but rather through force. The message is that we will always devolve into only thinking about ourselves for survival and that thinking of others will always come in second place, hell for some of these folks in the movie, I doubt it made the top 100.
The actors in the movie were all brilliant performances by the way but I opted to to talk about the concept of the movie since it had the most impact on me. The main character was a perfect narrative tool for exposition but obviously what made this character different was that he is seen as more of a thinker than the other characters you meet in the movie. He is naturally empathetic but also realistic in his predicament so you see him devolve into doing horrific things throughout the movie but you can tell that empathy was still within his soul and he realizes that only force can send a message to the top that the purpose of the experiment was understood.
This flick definitely had some great horror visual and even some fun action sequences. The humor sprinkled throughout the movie was nicely balanced by entertaining brutality. However, the biggest impact was again, the message that this movie was trying to convey. In a way, it caused a bit of self reflecting melancholy since humanity can be so disappointing but to have a movie display it with such obvious analogy had me thinking very hard because unfortunately, I didn’t have any convincing counter arguments to the overall message.
Are we doomed? Perhaps. But we have enough people on this planet looking out for themselves and we happen to benefit from time to time but in the end there is always someone at the bottom absolutely starving and the level of their depravity will always match the level of greed from the top.
Life is FAR more interesting when we take interest in things that scare us.