‘The Platform’: The horror movie that critiques capitalism and socialism
(Credits: Netflix)


'The Platform': The horror movie that critiques capitalism and socialism

Symbolism doesn’t have to be subtle to be effective because regardless of how heavy-handed it may be, The Platform remains both a stomach-churning horror delight and a searing indictment on issues that have, do, and will continue to plague everyday society.

Striking in its simplicity, director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia’s atmospheric dystopian nightmare unfolds in a vertical prison, where the inmates are fed on a platform that descends gradually downwards. By extension, the ones at the top get whatever they want and as much as they can, while those at the bottom are left to feed on scraps or nothing at all.

Deciding that he’s had enough of living off the dregs of those above, Iván Massagué’s Goreng opts to try and incite change. When he’s relocated to a higher level, he tries to convince the others to ration the food so that it’s distributed evenly, which is easier said than done in a facility where torture, murder, and cannibalism are often deemed necessary evils to ensure one doesn’t starve to death.

Not that it isn’t obvious from watching The Platform, but Gaztelu-Urrutia nonetheless made a point of explaining to Cine Europa that the overriding message of the film is how “humanity will have to move towards the fair distribution of wealth” in the future so that it doesn’t tear itself apart, which is significantly easier said than done.

The filmmaker wanted “all of these questions and observations to remain with viewers when they leave cinemas, to generate discussions, debate and thought; the same ones that we ourselves are having”. Throwing gruesome scenes and sickening violence into the mix was part and parcel of the process, with the inhabitants literally pulling each other to shreds being reflective of how the upper rungs of society who control the majority of the wealth are happy to leave those further down the ladder to their own devices.

As well as the overt socio-economic issues The Platform is drawing attention to in grisly fashion, the movie is also rife with religious undertones. It can’t be lost on anyone that 333 levels housing two prisoners each equates to a nice even 666, with the notions of heaven versus hell, saints versus sinners, and anarchy versus order all integral to the narrative and thematic construction of the story.

Following its premiere on Netflix in early 2020, the streaming service revealed that more than 56 million households had viewed The Platform, making it one of the company’s most-watched non-English original features ever. It may have taken a while, but it was confirmed in May 2023 that a sequel is in the works, although it’ll be every bit as interesting as it will be fascinating to see how Gaztelu-Urrutia sets about finding new ground to cover given the way the original set out its stall so effectively.