Social commentary? A discourse in communism? A warning to—or from—the rich? I would have carefully considered these themes were it not for the bizarre ending that brought this grisly thriller to an unsatisfying conclusion.
What’s it about?
A man wakes up in a cell with a hole in the floor and ceiling. Above him are countless identical floors. Below him are the same. A platform with platters of exquisitely presented food lowers from the ceiling. Most of it has already been eaten and probably spat on, or worse. But he should count himself lucky. This is Floor 48.
Welcome to The Hole.
This is a truly gruesome Spanish thriller and not for the faint of heart. Our hero, Goreng, shares his cell with Trimagasi, a much older man with months of experience in The Hole. He quickly gets Goreng up to speed with the rules and norms of the prison. To say much more about the plot would be to spoil it for you, but let me assure you these quaint beginnings will quickly escalate.
What do I like about it?
Firstly, I like thrillers that aren’t afraid to be properly gruesome. What’s the point in presenting a gritty scenario if we don’t get the shocking visuals to back it up? This movie delivers.
Aside from the ending, the plot follows a pretty good pace as we see Goreng encounter a number of difficult situations in The Hole.
I can give credit to some of the movie’s social commentary; on wealth distribution. Each day, the platform is loaded with terrific food, painstakingly put together by an army of top chefs. The attention to detail is crazy. I suppose, then, that the movie is showing us how pointless this extravagance is if the food we have isn’t enough to feed everyone in our society. If you’re hungry, the presentation of it goes out the window. The literal hierarchy of the prison is also an interesting concept – nobody cares about rationing their food so that those below don’t starve. You’re above them, that’s all that matters.
What do I not like about it?
The movie gets really interesting, but the last five minutes are just, huh? Avoiding spoilers here, but I just think it fell completely flat. It also did the hugely ungratifying thing of cutting before we get to see the consequences of the characters’ final actions. I suppose it’s supposed to be left to interpretation, but it just left me disappointed.
Also, Goreng suffers a bit from the ‘hey, I have morals and therefore cannot truly comprehend the insane situation that’s happening, why won’t someone do something?’ stereotype we see a lot. You know the one, where a bad guy does something bad and the other character is shocked beyond belief, yelling ‘hey, you can’t do that!’ Even though they literally can, and did, and that was the whole point.
Worth a watch?
If you’ve seen the trailer, don’t mind some horrifying scenes, and are still interested in the concept, it’s probably still worth a watch. It’s pretty short, too.
By the way…
- Bad ending aside, Netflix is killing it with their Spanish-language content. Do not change the audio language. Deal with the subtitles.
- The movie has sparked a lot of opinion pieces on what it all really means. But I would argue that, if it’s not clear enough what the filmmaker is trying to say, they haven’t done it properly.