The Platform is a dystopian science fiction thriller that tackles themes like social inequality together with class conflict. Set in a futuristic prison, survival is made harder depending on which floor you reside. The humanity of the elites living on the top floors, or lack thereof, plays a prominent role in who survives on the lower floors.
The following movies are like The Platform, as it shines a spotlight on our humanity as a whole:
- High Rise
- Ready Or Not
- The Belko Experiment
- Get Out
- The Hunger Games
- District 9
- My Dinner With Andre
- Lord Of The Flies
- The Raid: Redemption
The movies listed below delve into issues like wealth disparity, social inequality, and class conflict. They highlight how humans react to situations that force them to make difficult decisions. The positions are often created by the secret “them,” forcing people to either go into a primitive mode or hang on to some form of humanity.
1. High Rise (2015)
Director: Ben Wheatley
Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans, Elizabeth Moss, and James Purefoy
Esteemed architect, Anthony Royal, builds a 40-story tower block in London, 1970. It’s the embodiment of sophisticated living. In this modern tower block, wealthy residents live on the top floors, while the less affluent residents make up the bottom floors.
Facilities in the posh building include a gym, supermarket, spa, pool, and even a primary school. The occupants have little reason to leave their homes after working hours and become isolated in their little world. All is well until it’s not.
The wealthier residents seem to be hell-bent on destruction. All-night cocktail parties lead to attacks on the lower ”enemy” floors. At the same time, the resident’s water, power supply, and garbage removal services are at times not functioning, adding to their overall annoyance.
It does not take long before the human society in this building slips into an animal mode, where primal urges come to the fore, creating a law of the jungle world of chaos, destruction, and death. Society’s norms and values disintegrate in this dog-eat-dog evil world.
2. Parasite (2019)
Director: Bong Joon Ho
Cast: Kong-Ho Song, Sun-Kyun Lee, Yeo-Jeong Cho, Woo-Sik Choi, and So-Dam Park
The Kim’s is a low-income family living in a cramped half-basement apartment in the working-class commercial district of Seoul. They are scammers at heart, unambitious workers, literally smelling of poverty. On the other hand, The Parks lives in a futuristic house designed by a famous architect, and money is no problem.
When comparing the two families with each other, you get to see firsthand how social inequality, wealth disparity, and class conflict look like. When a tutoring opportunity presents itself, one of the Kim family members jumps at the chance, lying his way into getting employed at the Park’s mansion.
And so, starts the parasitic process of one family infiltrating another, through various employment positions, like a driver, teacher, maid, and psychiatrist. How do you get rid of a parasite?
3. Snowpiercer (2013)
Director: Bong Joon Ho
Cast: Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton, Ed Harris, John Hurt, and Octavia Spencer
In 2014, the authorities in most countries decided to use a coolant CW-7 to combat global warming. It turns out the powers in charge got it all wrong, and the earth relives another Ice Age, killing all human life on the planet.
Luckily for some, train enthusiast Wilfred built a revolutionary train called the “Ark.” The train constantly needs to move to generate energy for life inside the train. The Ark has been moving along a single continuous track worldwide for the last 17-years. Wilfred is still in charge of his train.
Like any good dystopian movie, people are divided according to class: the wealthy (1%) live in the front carriages, the working class in the middle, and the poor at the back. The poor are controlled by a militant Major Mason, fed only protein bars as food, and their children get taken away when they reach a certain height.
Many revolutions against Wilfred have failed before. Curtis, a poor carriage inhabitant, is planning a new one where they take control of the engine instead of seeking out Wilfred. The power lies in controlling the engine. They are presented with horrific information and deadly opposition as they make their way through the different carriage classes.
4. Us (2019)
Director: Jordan Peele
Cast: Lupita Nyong’o, Winton Duke, Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, Evan Alex, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Anna Diop
A childhood encounter at a carnival has scarred Adelaide for life. While on a beach trip, together with her parents, she encountered a homeless man with a placard reading: Jeremiah 11:11. When she walked into a nearby funhouse, she came face to face with her exact doppelganger. Adeleide refused to talk about the incident, as she was too scared to speak.
Fast-forward to the present, Adeleide goes on a beach trip to her old childhood home with her family. The beach trip was planned to help the children cope with the loss of their grandma. The other reason is for Adelaide to face her fear of the beach. After her husband, Gabe, and children Zora and Jason persuade her, she reluctantly agrees to join them on the beach.
While making their way to the beach, she spots the same homeless man she encountered at the carnival, rolled into an ambulance. That same night four mysterious intruders enter their home. The intruders are replicas of the family, with the only difference being their grotesque appearance. What do these lookalikes want from them?
5. Ready Or Not (2019)
Director: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett
Cast: Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Mark O’Brien, Henry Czerny, Andie MacDowell, and Melanie Scrofano
Crace, a foster child, is in seventh heaven when she marries Alex Le Domas at his family’s manor. The Le Domas is filthy rich but equally macabre. There is a family tradition in place, a deal that their great ancestor Victor made with a man called “Le Bail,” Any new family member draws a card from Le Bail’s puzzle box and participates in a game.
The family believes that if they continue this tradition that their wealth will stay safe. Grace draws a “Hide-and-Seek” card, and the family explains to Grace that she needs to survive from midnight until dawn to become part of the Le Domas clan.
The class battle is portrayed brutally, as members of the family arm themselves to the teeth and start to hunt Grace. She quickly realizes that this is a fight for survival, with the odds stacked heavily against her, as with the lower-class people of modern society.
6. Circle (2015)
Director: Aaron Hann and Mario Miscione
Cast: Allegra Masters, Aimee Mckay, Ashley Key, Autumn Federici, Bill Lewis, and Mustafa Speaks
Fifty strangers awaken to find themselves trapped in a massive unknown chamber. They have no memory of how they got there or who organized them into two concentric circles around a black dome. They soon discover that when they move from their designated platforms and the alarms go off, failing to return results in death by beam light.
What is even scarier is that every two minutes, someone is randomly selected to die, that is until the group figures out that they can vote by use of their hands, choosing the next victim themselves. The elderly are first in line to die, just because of their age, giving the group time to think.
And so, the group becomes less and less, where mob mentality rules life. The choices reflect who we are as human beings, what we believe in, and how we think. As the end of this experiment comes to a close, two groups with different views form. The choice of who survives becomes a moral dilemma.
7. Cube (1997)
Director: Vincenzo Natali
Cast: Nicole de Boer, Maurice Dean Wint, Dawid Hewlett, Andrew Miller, Julian Richings, and Wayne Robson
Six strangers find themselves involuntarily placed in a cubical maze with thousands of rooms. They all come from a different walk of life and include a policeman, a mathematical genius, a building designer, a doctor, a prison escape master, and a disabled man. They soon find out that the cube is filled with booby-traps designed to kill them.
They will have to work together to survive the ordeal, but even when life is at stake, they still fight with each other as the stakes for survival are raised. Finding a way to get out of the cube will be challenging, as will be the answer to why they have been imprisoned.
As the journey for survival progresses, we get to see a dark side of humanity, the ingrained primal instinct of any life form: survival at any cost!
8. The Belko Experiment (2016)
Director: Greg Mclean
Cast: John Gallagher Jr., Tony Goldwyn, Adria Arjana, John McGinley, Melanie Diaz, and Sean Gun
Eighty Americans find themselves locked in a high-rise corporate office in Bogota, Columbia. They are about to form part of a twisted social experiment where they have to kill each other or be killed themselves. The instruction comes via an unknown voice through the company’s intercom system.
Upon hearing the instruction, many staff members try to escape the building but are stopped in their tracks by steel shutters that seal all walls and doors. Most people are not violent by nature, so the employees decide to ignore the intercom announcement.
The first instruction was to kill two co-workers, and when that did not materialize, four co-workers died due to explosions in the mandated trackers in their heads. Each employee was fitted with a tracker due to high kidnapping levels in Columbia. When some try to remove their trackers physically, they are threatened by the voice.
The new instruction, delivered via the intercom voice, advises them that if thirty employees are not killed in two hours, twenty will die by a head explosion. The employees quickly form two groups: One that believes in no killing, and the other group hell-bent on killing the thirty to survive.
9. Get Out (2017)
Director: Jordan Peele
Cast: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener, Caleb Landry Jones, and Marcus Henderson
Chris Washington, a highly-talented African-American photographer, is in a five-month-old relationship with Rose Armitage. When Rose suggests that he meets her parents at their lakeside home in the country, he is nervous that Rose has not conveyed that he is black, as it’s Rose’s first interracial relationship.
To make matters worse for the already nervous Chris, the planned weekend falls on an annual get-together weekend of friends and other family members, a ritual that Rose’s grandfather Roman started. Chris finally meets Rose’s mother, Missy, a psychiatrist specializing in hypnotherapy, and her father, Dean, a neurosurgeon. The welcome seems cordial and welcoming enough.
Chris notices that the family is surrounded by black servants, each one out of touch with reality. When the issue of race comes up frequently, in a subtle fashion, Chris experiences an odd sensation about the whole situation. The problematic situation seems directly linked to the color of his skin.
The façade that the Armitage family puts up is slowly slipping away, in its place revealing an unrecognizable threat to Chris, one that he needs to get out of, fast.
10. The Hunger Games (2012)
Director: Gary Ross
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson, and Toby Jones
The people living in Panem form part of a post-apocalyptic nation located in North America. In this dystopian future, the poor live in twelve districts, ruled by the lavishly rich Capitol city located in the Rocky Mountains.
In the twelve districts, the level of poverty leads to death by starvation quite frequently. Not that it bothers the technologically advanced Capitol city. The rich seem to prefer this state of affairs and torment the poor people further; they annually host the Hunger Games pageant.
The games were formed as punishment for a previous rebellion and to remind the people of the Capitol’s power and lack of forgiveness and remorse for their rebellious ancestors. Each year, a boy and a girl are selected from each district to participate in the Hunger Games between 12-18 years. The winner will win food, riches, and supplies for their district.
The participants are called “tributes,” and they must fight to the death, on a broadcasted channel, for entertainment purposes for the people of the Capitol and to intimidate the poor population.
11. District 9 (2009)
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Cast: Sharlto Copley, David James, Jason Cope, Nathalie Boltt, Sylvaine Strike, and John Summer
It’s 1982 in Johannesburg, South Africa, when an alien spacecraft appears in the sky. Three months pass where no contact is made by either the humans or aliens. The humans decide to investigate first, cutting away into the ship, only to find a population of sick and under-nourished insectoid aliens. The “Prawns” have landed.
Twenty-eight years later, the overall welcome by the human race has resided, replaced by xenophobia, social segregation, and ultimately apartheid. The prawns were allocated an internment camp called District 9, which has quickly turned into a ghetto. Nigerian overlords are involved with alien weapon smuggling, interspecies prostitution, and providing the Prawns with cat food (which they are seemingly addicted to.)
Wikus Van Heerden, an employee of munition corporation: Multi-National United (M.N.U.), is tasked to forcibly evict the Prawns to another location, 240 km from Johannesburg, ruthlessly and cruelly. Wikus, and his team, go from shack to shack, serving eviction notices and looking for any contraband.
Christopher Johnson, a resident Prawn, has worked 20-years in finding a mysterious substance that could be used to take him and his son home. Wikus finds this strange alien chemical and manages to get himself sprayed with it in the face. Soon after, Wikus starts to change. He is turning into a prawn himself!
With nowhere to go, the M.N.U. on his trail, he has to turn for help to the very creatures he so despises. The tables have turned, and now Wikus gets to experience a day in the life of a Prawn.
12. My Dinner With Andre (1981)
Director: Louis Malle
Cast: Andre Gregory, Wallace Shawn, Jean Lenauer, and Roy Butler
Wallace is a playwright/actor from New York who is not in the mood to have a scheduled dinner with an old friend, former Broadway director Andre. The two have not seen each other in years, as Andre left the profession to travel the world instead.
Wally does not know what to expect as mutual friends gossiped that Andre has gone a bit crazy from his traveling experiences. Wallace reluctantly meets Andre at an upscale French Restaurant. The conversation revolves around Andre’s experiences and how he needed to use the improvisation learned in the theater in real-life scenarios.
What follows is a philosophical discussion about life in general: If one type of life is better than the other, if some people live in a dream state instead of actually living, and all sorts of back-and-forth banter what life means to each of them. Without a definite resolution at the end of the dinner, the questions raised lingered with the viewer, forcing them to contemplate their existence.
13. Lord Of The Flies (1963)
Director: Peter Brook
Cast: James Aubrey, Tom Chaplin, Hugh Edwards, Roger Elwin, and Tom Gaman
The movie is based on the book written by William Golding, focusing on the primitivism that lurks beneath civilization. A plane crashes in the ocean with a group of British students on board. With some effort, they make it onto a nearby island.
With no adult supervision, the boys create their mini-society, with Ralph voted as their leader. Ralph is quite the organizer and focuses on shelter, food collection, and fire responsibilities. When Jack neglects his fire duties, and the boys miss their chance to signal a passing airplane, life on the island takes a turn for the worse.
Jack decides to create a tribe of his own, one that is primitive and savage. His motto to control his savage group is done through the fear of the unknown and hunger. The savage’s hunt for pigs steals from the civilized group, and the animosity between the two groups leads to a horrifying incident.
“Evil is inherent in the human mind; whatever innocence may cloak it.”
14. 1984 (1984)
Director: Michael Radford
Cast: John Hurt, Richard Burton, Suzanna Hamilton, Cyril Cusack, and Gregor Fisher
“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”
The year is 1984, and a totalitarian government rules the Territory of Oceania (formerly known as England), the English Socialist Party, led by omnipotent Big Brother. Big Brother uses a two-way camera system that constantly plays regime videos of fights against old enemies and focuses on the entire population.
Individual freedoms are considered the main reason for all of society’s problems, so Big Brother controls everything that a person says or does, moving for an end to thinking or experiencing love and sex. Anyone who participates in sex, either by action or thought, is dealt with by the Thought Police.
Winston, a seemingly faithful low-level party member, is employed to rewrite history according to the party’s guidelines. He is destroying hard evidence of actual history in the process, replacing it with a narrative that fits. Winston keeps a diary of his feelings off camera and even starts a relationship with a fellow party member Julia. The pro-freedom couple will soon find out to what lengths Big Brother will go to control people.
15. The Raid: Redemption (2011)
Director: Gareth Evans
Cast: Iko Uwais, Amanda George, Ray Sahetapy, Donny Alamsyah, Joe Taslim, and Yayan Ruhian
Inside the slums of Jakarta, Indonesia, stands a derelict apartment building that even the police are scared to enter. It is the safe house of the cruel and powerful drug lord known as Tama. The most dangerous killers and gangsters of the area reside here.
Expectant father, and rookie S.W.A.T. agent Rama, together with a twenty-man S.W.A.T. team, infiltrate the building under cover of darkness. Getting as far as the 7th floor, they are spotted by a lookout, and their cover is blown.
Tama learns of the invasion, puts a bounty on the S.W.A.T. team’s head, alerting all the thugs in the building. The task is to clear out 30 floors with 20 elite members, to kill one mighty crime lord. When there’s nowhere to hide, you have to fight or die.
Totalitarian and dystopian futures are all realities that can manifest in the future. It reminds the viewer that we have to fight for the right to live as we do now.
I enjoyed the movies because you are put into situations that make you think about how you would react to them. Sometimes the conclusion is not easy to stomach.
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