Spanish movie, AKA El Hoyo. Goreng (Ivan Massagué) is a principled man who applies to be sent to “The Hole”, a prison, in order to quit smoking and read a lengthy book. At the end of six months, he will have earned an accredited diploma. The Hole involves 333 floors, with two people per level. Each day, a table laden with food is sent down through a hole in the middle of the floor. Level 0 gets first pick of the food, and the table is sent down to level 1, and so forth on down. Each month, residents wake up on a new floor. Naturally, being on a higher level is more desirable, as there is less chance of the food being eaten. Goreng’s cellmate, Trimagasi (Zorion Eguileor), is a cynic who shows him the ropes. Goreng struggles to maintain his morals in an increasingly dog-eat-dog system.
Each prisoner is allowed to bring in one item, and Goreng chooses Don Quixote, which is significant in the context of the movie. Quixotism, as defined by Wikipedia, is “idealism without regard to practicality”. Goreng starts out on a moral high horse, while Trimagasi spits on the food and doesn’t care who else eats as long as he gets his share. They’re on level 48 for Goreng’s first month, which still allows for an adequate amount of food for them, so Goreng can afford to be aghast. But next month they’re on level 171, and things become difficult, as no food at all is left on the table. There’s a caste system at play; the people on higher levels totally ignore the people below them, despite the fact that most likely the next month they’ll be lower. Goreng’s acquaintance Imoguiri (Antonia San Juan) tries every day to convince people to ration their food to stretch it as far as possible for everyone else, but they don’t listen until Goreng threatens to shit on the entire table.
This movie was recommended to me on a Facebook horror forum. I had seen the trailer, which looked interesting. So I was enthusiastic going in, and I was not disappointed. It’s suspenseful and unpredictable. As an added bonus, it was more diverse than I was expecting. I’ve seen a handful of Spanish movies, and the cast was Latinx or Hispanic white. In this movie, the actors are Asian and Black as well. The performances are great, particularly Zorion Eguileor. He makes Trimagasi, who’s completely repugnant, compelling.
It’s grubby and distasteful, and it’s a fascinating study of what people might be pushed to do when their backs are against the wall. Check it out if you’re in the mood for something that’ll make you cringe–in a good way.