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John’s Horror Corner: The Platform (2019; aka El Hoyo), this Spanish horror film is an intriguing genre oddity heavy with allegory.

May 3, 2020

MY CALL: What a weird, well-written, clever and brutal film. And boy, does it have a lot to say. Great for fans of either brutal or thoughtful horror. MORE MOVIES LIKE The Platform: For more genre statements of class, check out Brave New World (1998), The Island (2005), The Experiment (2010), In time (2011), Snowpiercer (2013), The Purge (2013) and Parasite (2019).

As if introducing a ritzy episode of Chef’s Table, a vast kitchen teeming with top pedigree culinary masters produces a cornucopia of high caliber, gorgeously-plated dishes. From lobster and fish to quail to quince, all such entrees find themselves crowded on a stone platform destined to feed the incarcerated occupants of a vertically oriented prison… two inmates per floor will dine, followed by the two of the level below, and so on for perhaps 150 floors (or more?). And whereas what is left for those at level 47 may strike the eye as unappealing, imagine the souls at level 138. How do they survive? And those who do… what stories do they have; what stories do they hide?

There by his own discretion, Goreng (Ivan Massagué; Pan’s Labyrinth) is an inmate with a different story. And being there of free will (initially), he more freely questions and challenges the organization of this literally linearly-tiered classism in which inmates eats the scraps of those above and inmates of higher levels are abusive of those below… to such limited extent that they can “reach” them.

Early in his stay, Goreng is indoctrinated by his cellmate (Zorion Eguileor), who has spent nearly a year cycling monthly through various levels high, middle and low. He knows the psychological quirks that are typically adopted at certain tiers, and knows what it takes to survive them. Goreng’s relationship with his cellmate dynamically evolves. One must wonder the kind of “friendship” one finds in facility in which you only interact with one other person directly… and what happens when such friendships are tested.

There are rules, and they are not so sensible to the civilized world. We find elements of The Experiment (2010) and Cube (1997) regarding inmate communication and relocation. As the movie progresses it more frequently becomes more brutal and mean and artery-slit bloody.

When the film does get bloody, it’s brutal about it. Not so graphic directly on-screen, but you feel the intensity; you hear the slimy “wet” sounds of cutting into bloody flesh. Oh, and the foley work and sound editing in this are excellent. From gross ravenous eating to slippery flesh-stripping.

For his first feature film, director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia has conquered with this intriguing genre oddity. It’s as if the people behind the creation of the Cube (1997) decided to open a restaurant, and the main dish is social commentary.

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