If Parasite, Ready or Not, and Us have you in the mood for more heightened stories about the horrors of class warfare, you’re absolutely going to to want to put The Platform (aka, El Hoyo) on your watchlist. Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia‘s celebrated Spanish festival hit finally arrives on Netflix this month after taking home TIFF’s People’s Choice Award and earning three Goya nominations last year, and it’s without a doubt one of the best genre gems I saw on the festival circuit in 2019.
The basic set-up is simple; the film takes place in a vaguely dystopian, vertically stacked prison, where all of the cells are lined up in a clean tower of inmates. Each floor is a cell, each cell has two prisoners, and the ceilings and floors of each cell have a large rectangular opening to the floors above and below. Once a day, a giant platform descends from the top floor to the bottom with a Hogwarts-worthy feast laid out upon it; the people up top eat like kings and the people while the people below them live off the scraps.
It’s a clever, concise high-concept starting point for a horror-tinged sci-fi thriller, and Gaztelu-Urrutia uses it as a starting point to tell a gripping survival story about the man who decides to break the rules and learns the hard way just how hard it is to change the system. It’s also a heck of a feat of world-building and the sharp script makes sure to dole out new little gems of information, painting in new details of the bigger picture each new scene. It’s a bit High Rise, a bit Cube, a bit Parasite, and yet somehow entirely its own thing, and if you listen to Collider’s horror podcast The Witching Hour at all, you know Perri and I have been raving about this one non-stop for about a year.