At the end of 2018, Netflix dropped Bandersnatch which is an interactive film from the Black Mirror anthology. It follows Stefan Butler (played by Fionn Whitehead) who, in 1984, is trying to adapt a dark fantasy novel into a video game. Along the way you, the viewer, have to make decisions to direct Stefan’s path toward one of the multiple endings.
This movie has sci-fi, horror, and mystery elements to it. Some of the decisions you make will have very little impact while others will have major ones. There are different types of endings. Some are big and will allow for the credits to play, some are still quite dramatic but will require you to go back and make a different decision, and others will simply ask you to change your mind. It’s incredibly interesting how they did it and the structure of the paths. You can find many flow charts on the internet showing you which options to make in order to get every ending and having seen some of them, it’s easy to notice some kind of pattern to what they created. Although, be aware some of these charts contain spoilers!
I will say this. Bandersnatch is more interesting than it sounds on paper but was it amazing? Eh. I gave it a 3.5 which I often give when things are flawed but still good and worth recommending. I think if the genre is your kind of thing, and you’re of the appropriate age, then it’s definitely something worth checking out. I do think it could have gone much further and the plot, while interesting enough, did feel a little lackluster in its entirety. However, I do appreciate what they’re doing here and I hope that all of that was purely down to this being the first interactive piece from Black Mirror and one of a few from Netflix but most certainly the only one outside of their children’s section. Bandersnatch may not be everyone’s favourite but it has certainly got people talking. My hope is that Netflix will opt to do more of these and that they will hopefully get bigger and better. I’d also like to see Black Mirror do more as well as their regular TV seasons.
Beyond the technical side and the plot, I love the characters. Colin Ritman (played by Will Poulter) is probably my favourite. I’m almost sad this wasn’t a regular episode of Black Mirror because I feel we might have learnt a bit more about him if it were. Regardless, I ended up loving him as a character! Stefan was also a really great character to follow around and throughout the movie, regardless of what you choose, you discover more and more about him.
At the end of the day, this movie is fun. It’s something you can play through more than once especially when you have the appeal of getting every ending but after a while, it can become a bit repetitive and I honestly couldn’t say for sure if I will be inclined to rewatch it. Maybe when the finer details start to blur, like with any movie, but while there’s enough variety to make it interesting the first few times there’s not really enough to keep you coming back time and time again.
Like I said, I’m chalking most of its flaws up to it being a first for Black Mirror and one of the early releases for what seems to be a Netflix experiment. Its disappointments come from not being bulky enough but the story itself and the characters are all fantastic and even if it’s just for the first viewing, the whole thing is highly entertaining.
Rating: ★★★½ /5