Movie Review: El Hoyo (The Platform)

The last movie review we did, before the Great Lockdown of 2020, was a look at The Hunt: a violent, politically-driven thriller featuring a high-concept, high-gore premise.  And now, the first movie we’ll be reviewing in The GLo2020, is The Platform, a violent, politically driven thriller featuring a high-concept, high-gore premise. Funny how things work out like that, huh?

Anyway. The Platform is a Spanish sci-fi horror, directed by Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia, tracking the story of Goreng, a man who agrees to enter into the mysterious Hole structure: a collection of stacked floors that contain two random people, some there out of choice, some forced there to pay for their misdeeds.

If that sounds like a vague premise, it doesn’t get any clearer as the film goes on – well, as much light is shed on what led to this set-up and what surrounds it as our leading man Goreng (Ivan Massegue) discovers over the course of his time trapped in this long, dark night of the hole. But the logic behind this story is basically irrelevant – it’s really just an excuse for a claustrophobic, nightmarish anti-capitalist horror story featuring maggots, cannibalism, and just a little pseudo-Christian-as-Communist imagery to keep things spicy.

Alright, that’s a lot to just throw at you here, so let’s break this down into pieces: first, let’s talk about The Platform as a horror film. The tense, tight nature of the premise and the stark backdrop (appropriate for the lockdown era, it seems) allows for some excellent performances to thrive, and the true horror of perverted human connection to let loose. There are some truly nasty slices of filmmaking here, strewn effectively throughout the film, shocking us out of stasis whenever things get too comfortable – a punishing, relentless atmosphere keeps things tense right through till the end, and Massegue offers a natural warmth that makes it hard not to care what happens to him.

But there’s far more to this than just horror: the nature of the Hole means that those at the top are offered more resources than those on floors below, and it’s through this simple notion that it unfolds some of its political ideas. There’s a strenuously anti-overconsumption overtone to The Platform, an ever-relevant notion that’s become even more potent over the last few weeks – the visceral nature of what that consumption looks like, nasty close-ups of masticating mouths and greasy hands, makes it pretty clear what this movie thinks of people who take more than they need. And, as it nears its end, and the movie starts plunging into its own proverbial capatalist hellscape, it turns into a desperate attempt to deliver some truth to the rest of the world – and we’re meant to be rooting for the delivery of the nebulous notion of The Message, even if the movie is deliberately evasive on what that message might actually be.

The Platform is an intricate little film hiding behind a deceptively simple premise – a strange, unsettling creature with a nasty sense of the true horror of human nature, mixed in with a dabbling of political commentary to boot. It might strike a little too high in its ambitions sometimes, but at least it has them in the first place – and hey, what better horror movie for our times than one that focuses on the sheer, nightmarish terror of being trapped against your will with another person, whether you like it or not?

If you enjoyed this article and want to see more stuff like it,  please consider supporting us on Ko-Fi. You can check out more of my work on my personal blog, The Cutprice Guignol!

By Louise MacGregor

(header image via Collider)


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