The dystopian horror-thriller reminiscent of the global pandemic
The past few weeks have been a real-life Contagion amid a historic plague the world is still finding means to cure and adapt to. People are panic-buying staple food items, stockpiling toilet paper and hoarding disinfectants—a perceived means of survival. Those fortunate enough to stay at home are turning to films to distract themselves from harrowing headlines.
Netflix’s recently released The Platform (El Hoyo) is a timely social commentary representing our current reality. It takes place inside a vertical prison-like structure—not for the claustrophobic by nature—called “the hole” where captives are exposed to inhumane treatment and treated like animals left to fend for themselves.
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Goreng (Iván Massagué) wakes up inside the prison and meets his cellmate, an uncanny, old man named Trimagasi (Zorion Eguileor). He quickly learns that their means of survival solely rely on food briefly transported through the hole once a day. If that weren’t despicable enough, the lower you’re placed, the less food you get—if at all. (In theory, there is more than enough food for everyone.)
Every month, the prisoners are randomly placed in different levels, regardless of good behavior. The prisoners become ravenous beasts, consumed by their own survival but Goreng wants to change that. He collaborates with other inmates to help one another ration food for everybody to partake. Still, he is tormented by ghosts of those before him.
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The story is simple but impossible to forget, of course with its gory portrayal of cannibalism and suicide; it’s not for the faint of heart. The social experiment shows the effects of thoughtless—and inconsiderate—hoarding in this capitalist society where the privileged survive and the unfortunate suffer and are displaced. Like Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite, hell breaks loose when the social disparity is highlighted between those above and those below.
Now in our own nightmarish cocoon, it’s worth mentioning that we all have the responsibility to look out for each other and make sure that everybody gets their share.
Stream The Platform on Netflix.
Art Alexandra Lara