Rating: ★★★★ 1/2
It comes as no surprise that Black Mirror was Netflix’s guinea pig for their first ever interactive film. Charlie Brooker’s anthology series about the dark side of technology has captivated fans ever since it first aired on Channel 4 in the UK. With Netflix being a leading entertainment service, the time had come for them to try something brand new. The film dropped over the Christmas break, and I for one was very excited to sit down and try it.
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is set in the ’80s and follows teenager Stefan Butler as he works to create a choice/consequence video game called ‘Bandersnatch’. He’s basing it off one of his mother’s ‘choose your own adventure’ books, where you could flick back and forth between chapters to change the course of your story. He’s been invited to speak with video games company Tuckersoft, comprised of video game creator Colin Ritman and savvy businessman Mohan Thaku, in the hopes he can make the game for their company.
As Stefan works on ‘Bandersnatch’, he also visits a therapist to help with his depression following the loss of his mother. He takes an unnamed medication in an attempt to ease his symptoms. Soon, the lines between reality and the video game world start to blur for Stefan, and he becomes more and more unhinged before our eyes.
That’s about all I’m going to tell you about the plot itself, because I don’t want to give away any spoilers. My advice when approaching this for the first time is to go in completely blind and just make your own decisions. You can find numerous pathway guides online, but try to avoid these until your later playthroughs if you can. Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is an experience that requires multiple watches and a lot of patience, but I promise you it’s worth it.
Personally I adore this episode, and I think they did such a fantastic job of bringing it to life. It’s so fluid and engaging; the scenes continue to play even when the options pop up on screen. The acting is absolutely stunning, with Fionn Whitehead (Stefan) and Will Poulter (Colin) impressing me the most, but every character is so well acted and believable. For the very first time, you feel part of the Black Mirror universe, and everything starts to feel so meta. There are also a lot of references to previous episodes which will delight long term fans, but aren’t too jarring for those new to the series.
Both Black Mirror and Netflix have proven they can work with interactivity without making it too gimmicky or tedious. It’s a fascinating format that I’m excited to see more of, and I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of this. I have equal amounts of praise for both the series and Netflix themselves, because they’re constantly upping the entertainment game which makes me fall in love even more. This is the kind of stuff that really excites me!
In classic Black Mirror style, there are some disturbing pathways but they’re arguably my favourite. They’re chilling, harrowing and bloody brilliant. At this point I think I’ve explored every possible ending or pathway, but I’m reluctant to spoil any of them on here because that would ruin the experience. However, if you do want to discuss anything, please do message me on @LGTHBlog so we can fangirl together!
What are your thoughts on Bandersnatch? Let me know in the comments below.