An allegory of wealth inequality that's marred by the ending.
Here be spoilers…
What we like
The concept of a a vertical prison is a fresh way of highlighting the issues of social inequality. It's a commentary of the current political climate without bringing a hammer down on your head; what is the social responsibility of the many; the socialism ideal of the redistribution of wealth from the one-percentage so that everybody can benefit.
Bearing the spirit of Cube and Snowpiercer, The Platform has a lot to say in such a confined space. This is a world that has a given set of rules that every inmates abide by and the expected consequences that arise from their actions.
There's a finite amount of food that can feed everybody if everyone were to take only what they needed. Of course, rationing isn't the most rational thing the prisoners resort to. Instead, they give into self-preservation and leave the others below to their own devices. The twist to this is that, at the end of the month, the prisoners are randomly relocated to a different level. So, someone who used to be on the top can be placed in the lower levels and vice versa; someone who used to be below, will immediately gorge on what he or she can eat when they are transferred to a higher storey.
The rules of the world is explained at the start by Trimagasi, the veteran, to the greenhorn, Goreng and causes you to think up of strategies for survival—you can't hoard food as it triggers a drastic temperature change in the room; you can bring one item with you to the cell like a book that can alleviate boredom or a knife for protection.
And just when you think you got a handle on the system, a spanner is thrown into the works.
Ivan Massagué plays Goreng as someone with such compassionate earnestness that you'll know that it will lead to an eventual friction with his cynical cellmate, Trimagasi. The soundtrack is a wonderful accompaniment to the dreariness and sometime-horror-of-circumstances of the place. Pacing-wise, the film teases out the tension and knows when to let it snap.
What we didn't like
While the film's premise was effective in exposing the state of the world we live in, the ending didn't deliver the impact that it needed. Goreng starts to enact change to the system and although it showed promise, it didn't feel like it was fully thought out. While, the themes of the evils of capitalism running unchecked is evident, there will be questions raised about some of the lesser elements: whatever happened to Baharat (Emilio Buale)? What is Miharu's (Alexandra Masangkay) deal? How did that person (you'll know it when you see said person) at the lower level survive all these while?
There were also scenes of the kitchen, filled with chefs and wait staff preparing for the buffet to be lowered to the rest of the floors but nothing was explained about them. Maybe, their appearances were to highlight the grandiosity of the meals that's prepared by the 'invisible' help but the story would work just as well without the mention of the kitchen department.
There's also the issue of what you can expect from the movie. Generally, critics are placing The Platform under the horror category but it doesn't feel apt. It's more sci-fi than your broad horror genre. In fact, I'd liken it to be a parable with desperate people resorting to horrific means. Reframing this categorisation would help with what The Platform can deliver.
What to look out for
The Platform is one giant metaphor so it requires you to look beneath the surface. The characters' names might also mean something: "Goreng" and "Trimagasi" mean "fried" and "thank you" ("terima kasih") in Malay.
The Platform is now out on Netflix.