I love a good horror film. Sadly, horror films don't like me. With every great one like The Lodge, we get about 4 terrible ones (The Grudge, The Turning, Fantasy Island, etc.). The same can be said about Netflix original films. For every The Irishman or Marriage Story, we get about a dozen really crappy and cheap looking movies that get dumped under their "Netflix Originals" moniker. All that being said, I wasn't expecting much from The Platform, but I went into it optimistically because of it's intriguing premise and good word of mouth. I'm very happy to say that this Horror/Science Fiction Thriller is one that should be seen, as it's one of the most inventive, brutal, and truly unique horror films I've seen in quite a long time.
God, I love when a great idea doesn't get squandered. Spanish director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia does a superb job with balancing the mystery, tension, and violence in what could be considered one of the finest claustrophobic horror films out there. The way Gaztelu-Urrutia is able to make this vertical prison come to life with what is most likely a pretty small budget is very impressive. Especially for it being his first feature length film. It's also a film that has a lot on it's mind regarding wealth and class, but Gaztelu-Urrutia doesn't beat you over the head with these messages so one could watch the film without ever thinking it was even about these things. Great work!
The Platform follows a man named Goreng who wakes up to find himself in a giant, concrete prison room with an older man named Trimagasi and a giant hole in the middle ceiling and floor with other prisoners in other rooms going up and down. Once a day, a giant slab travels downward from the middle with food and drinks. Obviously, it starts from the top and goes to the bottom so the people further down have a much smaller chance at actually getting something to eat. We follow Goreng as he adapts to his new prison life and his new prison mate. It's a very interesting setup that doesn't focus too much on why and how this is a thing but more on the characters that have to endure it and the situations they get themselves into.
The world of this prison feels real with characters acting in selfish and greedy fashion, playing tricks on other prisoners, and killing one another for various reasons, whether it be for food or from insanity. The story actually reminds me very much of other claustrophobic films like Cube and Snowpiercer and even has similar story beats to those two. It never rips them off or anything, but I can see the artistic inspiration that those films had on this one.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
While I believe the acting in the film is great, I have to give it half for one reason. On Netflix, the film's default audio settings make it so the film is English dubbed. If you haven't guessed yet, the film is actually Spanish-made, so the actors originally spoke Spanish when filming. Netflix decided to give the movie an English dub, which I'm almost never a fan of, but I decided to at least watch some of it this way.
It's not a terrible dub, but it sure does detract from the experience at times with some laughable delivery here and there and a lot of weird changes to dialogue from script to dub that made me very confused. I get that things change from dub to dub, but there's dialogue in the original version that is so much better than the lines that the English dub cast read that it blew my mind why they would feel the need to tweak it. It might've been so the lip syncing would have been better, but even that is off quite a bit here and there. I usually don't criticize a movie for an optional dub, but a lot of people are watching this with the dub and I feel like I need to mention that this is one of the few cases where I truly believe the original dub is much better than the English one.
That being said, the actors all do a terrific job at portraying these characters, with each one being completely unique with their own ideologies and ways they deal with this prison life. It's super interesting when a new prison member gets introduced and we learn a little bit about them. Great work from a terrific and talented Spanish cast, and an acceptable job from the English dub cast.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The use of music in The Platform is minimal, but man does it pack an effective punch. The score is phenomenal and really sets the mood of each scene, whether it be something horrifying or something a little more pleasant like two people bonding over a book. The sound design is great with plenty of abnormal sounds coming from various places in the giant prison, or the random prisoners you'll hear above and below, which really adds to the creepy factor.
The film utilizes a simple and small setting, but it’s shot so wonderfully that it doesn't even matter that most of the movie is set in the same concrete prison room. The vertical prison itself has over 200 floors, but the crew most likely only had maybe two or three prison rooms to use, so it's incredible that they were able to make each and every prison room that the characters go to feel unique. Each prison room feels lived in even when there's no evidence that anyone was even in the room. The minimal use of special effects was a great choice because even when the slab of food floats downward on no mechanism at all, it's still believable in a way. I didn't even think about it until half way through the film. And, of course, there is plenty of blood and gore, and I'm happy to announce that a lot of it is practical effects.
2020 has been a tough year for quality films, and for obvious reasons. If you're a fan of horror films that aren't just "Evil man kills dumb teenagers," or "Ugly ghost jump scares teenagers," than I highly recommend you check out The Platform. It's a claustrophobic nightmare with more on it's mind than just a body count; it sticks the landing towards the end with gleeful fashion. Great work Gaztelu-Urrutia! I'm anticipating your next film.