Black Mirror: Bandersnatch

Interactive Netflix original movie may kickstart a new genre

Cody Bennett, Assistant Striv Producer

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is a Netflix original movie that was released on Dec. 28th, 2018. This movie takes the normal, one lined story, and flips it on its head.

Bandersnatch allows the viewer to choose which scene happens next, progressing the story that fits the views of the watcher, allowing for multiple endings and even more ways to go about the story.

Bandersnatch is a movie branched off of the show Black Mirror. A dystopian society based in the high-tech and near future where humanity’s greatest innovations and darkest instincts collide. The movie isn’t that different from some of the episodes from the actual series, the main difference is of course, the choice of what scene happens next.

The movie starts the viewer off with easy choices like what to eat and what music to listen to. The viewer plays as Stefan Butler played by Fionn Whitehead, who is developing a “choose your own adventure and ending” video game in the mid-1980’s based off of the book Bandersnatch written by Jerome F. Davies. By choosing to stay and develop the game at the company, rushing the completion, the ending you get is one of the worst. An ending which I’m not embarrassed to say that I chose twice, and lost twice.

The story also taps into some of modern day conspiracies. The movie reveals of the government controlling different “subject” through monitoring and drugging with pills and liquids in different foods. Without going into too much of the actual plot, there are five different endings you can get throughout the playthrough, all with specific choices the viewer has to make in order to achieve said endings.

Collin Ritman played by Will Poulter, a secondary character that helps you through the dilemma, helps you understand that everything has a reason and that someone or something is controlling all the choices they make. Collin opens up the mind of Stefan, saying that their life is like the popular retro video game, PAC-Man. He expresses that PAC stands for “Program And Control” and that people think it’s a happy game, but in reality, it’s a living hell, controlling them and making choices for them, all they can do is be there along for the ride.

Bandersnatch goes above and beyond when coming to logic bombs like Collin’s reality monologue, the characters often interact knowing that they are being controlled and even speaking aloud about it too, making them self conscious to the decisions us as the viewers make which brings up the term “Breaking the Fourth Wall”

“Breaking the Fourth Wall” is a term described by viewers or players of a game or movie. It describes the interactions with characters in the movie into our world. One example would be a choice you can make during the movie, Stefan asks who is controlling him. One choice was Netflix, which I found pretty amusing. The choice described Netflix to Stefan and the text on the computer tried to explain it to him. It did end my path but it was very cool nonetheless.

At the time of writing this review, the “Choose Your Own Adventure” trademark company, Chooseco LLC, is suing Netflix for $25 million, for the “Choose Your Own Adventure” type of movie. Netflix sought out this company for license to use it for a movie, but never gained permission. Netflix decided to still go through with the movie while receiving a cease and desist order from Chooseco but ignored the formal letter and released the movie. The court order is to be resolved later this coming year.

Besides the lawsuit and legal system, the Black Mirror actors nailed every single scene that was presented to me in the choices I made through my first 3 playthroughs. Fionn Whitehead couldn’t have done a better job in his performance as Stefan presenting confusion, anger, and understanding in all scenes. A very talented actor that doesn’t disappoint in any movie he’s starred or has been cast in. Will Poulter also didn’t disappoint either, my favorite scene from this movie is of his monologue, telling Stefan that his reality is just a game and he can’t do anything about it.

I’d love to see more types of these movie genres, it allows the viewer to choose which ending they get, which would erase the “cliche” type movie endings of good guys always win or the prince gets the princess.

On the other end of the spectrum, discussing movies like these would be challenging sometimes. I tried to explain a path I was lead down during my runs and some choices were the same but one different choice would lead you to a whole different section or ending which was annoying but interesting to talk about nonetheless.

In ways that couldn’t or haven’t been attempted by other companies, Netflix has overall succeeded in its first act of an interactive film. Memorable characters, very deep and thoughtful script writing and mind mess-ups all throughout the film, Netflix has really set the bar when it comes to the “Choose Your Own Adventure” movie, with more surely to come, Netflix has set the bar for other companies to try to match.