Dystopian Netflix thriller The Platform couldn’t have come at a better time

Netflix’s new dystopian thriller is set in a prison tower where inmates are fed only scraps from the cell above, until one person makes it his mission to disrupt the entire system.

The timing of The Platform’s arrival here could not be more perfect, says Aaron Yap, noting the film’s examination of panic-driven consumption, individualism-versus-collectivism and the wealth divide (when it’s not leaning into John Carpenter-esque dystopian action).

In terms of timing, the arrival of The Platform on Netflix could not have been more perfect. In fact, it’s somewhat scarily so. As the world hunkers down in the paralytic grips of a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia’s vicious, pointedly allegorical thriller casts a stark light on all those socio-political triggers we’re processing on a daily basis now more than ever: panic-driven consumption, individualism-versus-collectivism, the wealth divide.

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It’s shamelessly high-concept stuff—Cube with a savage Bunuelian kick. A man named Goreng (Iván Massagué) mysteriously awakens in a vertically structured incarceration facility where a lavish banquet descends through a central pit from the top, allowing inmates on each level to feast for a brief allotted time. That we’re never quite sure how many levels there are—and inmates are shuffled to different levels periodically—gives this a wicked puzzle-box conundrum for viewers to decipher.

But Gaztelu-Urrutia’s film has more ideological matters in mind. The Platform joins the likes of Parasite, Ready or Not, Us et al as targeted eat-the-rich jabs, imagining a what-if extreme that allows an unchecked capitalist system to continually favour the 1% and forget the plight of the have-nots. There’s nothing subtle about it, and occasionally the philosophising bites off more than it can chew.

But for its small scale, it’s a reasonably effective provocation, especially when it leans into crunchy Carpenter-esque dystopian actioner mode, unloading doses of grisly ultra-violence as the protagonists plot and devise strategies for escape and bucking the prison’s oppressive traps. Done with Contagion and need to expand your quarantine viewing? This fleet, nasty piece of work will certainly do the trick.