The Pit is a vertical prison with only two prisoners per floor. Each day, a platform drops for two minutes full of food or, more accurately, the leftovers of the floors above. “The Platform” explores selfishness and mankind’s ability to be cruel in a dark, sobering environment.
The film follows this cycle through the eyes of Goreng (Ivan Massagué) as he learns how to survive in prison. In his first month, Goreng speaks with Trimagasi (Zorion Eguileor) and learns to avoid the hole in the center of each floor to prevent a clumsy and painful death. While at first disgusted, he learns to accept the demolished leftovers scattered across the platforms because the floor changes temperatures to an extreme if anyone attempts to save food for later.
Goreng also discovers that each month, his floor and floormate change. This is marked by fellow prisoner Miharu (Alexandra Masangkay) riding the platform, searching for her child toward the end of each cycle. Her presence is terrifying as she sits on the platform like a statue, only moving to tear apart anyone who dares to attack her. She also signifies a major shift in Goreng’s status, as he could be moved to floors 33, 6, 171 or any number in between in the seemingly bottomless prison.
He meets few prisoners, but each has a story that challenges Goreng’s mindset. Trimagasi forces Goreng to consider cannibalism as a legitimate way to survive on the lower floors, where only the shattered remains of plates and glasses that once held food and alcohol stand.
Imoguiri (Antonia San Juan) acts as a moral realignment to something more positive for Goreng. While every prisoner is allowed one item for themselves, including firearms, she chooses a dog. She’s the first prisoner to bring up the idea of rationing, begging floors below her to only take a small portion she made while she only eats every other day, giving her dog a day of food. This further emphasizes Imoguiri’s commitment to her cause and proves that her idea works, considering she already practices it with an animal that doesn’t understand the idea of rationing, and both have survived.
The prison acts as a literal hierarchy for all prisoners. People treat those a floor below them like trash, smashing a plate or bottle down on the platform to make it that much harder to get the food safely. Just one floor above Goreng, no one listens to his pleas to ration the food, so prisoners much lower down have less of a chance to eat and survive. On lower floors, he looks for food in any available source, like his copy of “Don Quixote” and the rotting corpses of previous prisoners on the lower levels.
Goreng’s sanity also declines, and he often hallucinates previous floormates as he begins to starve. Seeing each person causes him to feel guilt for his interactions with them, including feelings of remorse for being rude to Imoguiri as he recognizes the need to ration and for his decision to attack Trimagasi after being on the lower levels for several days.
While the film tackles greed, it doesn’t feel as original as previous films. “Cannibal Holocaust” exists to show how people can be terrible if it means acquiring fame, but many films and shows already use food as a means of survival and power.
As far as acting goes, it’s fine. Every character is believable in this world and builds up tension and drama properly, but it’s nothing special in of itself.
In terms of cinematography the movie has nothing special either. Despite every floor being somewhat small, several shots are used to convey the rare action sequence. In dark places, it becomes difficult to figure out what’s going on with nighttime flooding every floor in a dark red that hides any scars or blood drawn in any fights.
“The Platform” is a thrilling film exploring several concepts. With a number of changing parts throughout the film, it quickly becomes unpredictable and disturbing. While many people are staying in under quarantine, this film should be used as a guideline on how not to deal with people and food. People can still act civil and ration resources out without treating each other like trash or ravaging resources before others have a chance to get them, especially with the mass demand for many items nowadays.
Contact Caleb Barbachem at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.