REVIEW: The Platform – a crazy, psychological thriller with themes as relevant as ever

By Thomas Reyer

Rating: ****

Following Bong Joon Ho’s triumphant run at this year’s Academy Awards with Parasite, people seem to be paying a little bit more attention to foreign language films.

The Oscar-winning feature made more than $500,000 at US cinemas the day after it won the award and swiftly became the UK’s record holder for foreign language film opening weekends.

This may be why UK Netflix decided to release Spanish psychological horror-thriller ‘The Platform’ to the streaming service at the end of March.

It is director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia’s first feature-length film and is certainly his first introduction to UK audiences.

Avoiding all possibilities of spoiling the film, I’ll touch over the plot as delicately as I can.

A man finds himself in a vertical prison cell that seems to have endless floors. There are two people per cell, therefore two people per floor, and a platform containing a delightful feast of food is sent down the prison once per day. The closer you are to the top, the closer you are to the food platform.

I’ll say this first, The Platform is not one for the faint-hearted. If you don’t consider yourself a fan of gore and uneasy viewing then turn away now. Gaztelu-Urrutia leaves nothing to the imagination with the graphic nature of the movie.

However, if you’re still here, then I would highly recommend this film. Although the premise of the movie is simple – a man wakes up in a prison cell and we follow his every move – the themes can be closely paralleled to how we live today.

The food platform is lowered down each storey of the prison through a rectangular hole in the middle of the floor. If everyone from each floor only ate what they needed, then there would be enough to feed everybody. However, it doesn’t quite work like that in there.

We follow Goreng as he wakes up on floor 48, accompanied by an elderly cellmate called Trimagasi, who gradually explains to Goreng (and us) what goes on in this prison, finishing the majority of his sentences with ‘obvio’ (obviously).

Although the social metaphor for this story is evident, it doesn’t take away the aspects that make it a thrilling 94-minute ride for the viewer.

It features many attributes that a horror-thriller should possess, including nerve-wrenching suspense, a great deal of violence and we get behind our lead characters’ motivations.

Coincidentally, this film is as relevant now as it may ever be. Although released in November of last year in Spain, it has come at a very topical time in the UK. If we all just took what we needed, when we needed, then there would be enough of everything for everyone – to put it in the vaguest possible terms.

I use the term ‘horror’ fairly loosely in describing this film. It’s not going to be throwing jump scares at you every 30 seconds, but it really does make you think – and sometimes that can be the worst horror of all.

It’s been a week since I first watched The Platform and I still find myself thinking about it regularly. A thought-provoking film, that is an excellent debut for Gaztelu-Urrutia. I highly recommend you head to Netflix now and give it a watch, Obvio.

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