Black Mirror: Bandersnatch
Back in December, the popular Netflix anthology series Black Mirror added another strange tale to their ranks. Bandersnatch is a standalone film that brings choose-your-own adventures to a whole new level. The story surrounds a young videogame designer, Stefan, in the 1980s who is attempting to adapt his favorite choose-your-own-adventure novel into a visual medium. It’s a psychological thriller that causes just as much chaos for the viewer as the protagonist.
In the beginning, you make a series of seemingly insignificant decisions to get the feel for how the film lays out the plot. Without providing any serious spoilers, there are many different ways to make a poor or detrimental choice that takes you to a less-than-ideal ending. But it’s what the film’s algorithm does that’s the best part. When you get that early ending, it takes you back to the scene before the “bad” choice, and let’s you choose the other option as a way of correcting the mistake and allowing you to see the rest of the story and every possible ending.
It wouldn’t be a classic episode of Black Mirror without several secrets and plot twists that leave you scratching your head wondering, “What the *bleep* just happened?!?” Why would the Bandersnatch creators make the viewer choose the story if there wasn’t any real interaction between the audience and the characters? That’s right. You guessed it. A fourth wall break. Stefan, the guy you control the decisions of, figures out he’s being manipulated by an outside force to make these decisions. So to be a smart alec, it’s a choose-your-own-adventure novel within a choose-your-own-adventure game within a choose-your-own-adventure film. Does that mean our very human existence is a choose-your-own-adventure universe? Mind blown.
Unfortunately, a project as well-received as this doesn’t come without backlash. According to an article from TheVerge.com, the publisher of the Choose Your Own Adventure book series, Chooseco, is suing Netflix for trademark infringement at the amount of at least $25 million. Their main reasoning is since Bandersnatch is so dark and geared toward adults, it will ruin Chooseco’s reputation for publishing family-friendly entertainment. Netflix is such a large entity in the industry, the chances of them losing this battle are very slim. Chooseco can try though.
Netflix has been on fire with their Originals lately. From Stranger Things to Tidying Up with Marie Kondo to Orange is the New Black to The Seven Deadly Sins, there are nearly limitless options available on this legendary streaming platform. The next time you’re scrolling through your watch list, just pick a Netflix Original. The worst that could happen is that you’ll hate it and have to pick another one. Eventually, you’ll end up sucked into an intense show you just can’t stop binging…like Black Mirror.
Well, you know where I’ll be.