(Interactive) Film Review: Black Mirror – Bandersnatch

The latest addition to the ongoing Black Mirror series is the standalone interactive film, Bandersnatch.

Bandersnatch is a “choose your own adventure” interactive experience, if you’ve ever played a Telltale game before, you probably already know what to expect. But for those new to the concept, the film gives the viewer various choices which changes the way that the overall story plays out. This means that Bandersnatch has a variety of multiple endings.

The concept is intriguing, and Bandersnatch starts off with promise. However, it wasn’t really for me. It quickly became a bit of a jumbled mess, it turns out that you can in fact make “incorrect choices” which cause you to have to backtrack and try other scenarios. This was fine at first, but after one or two wrong turns I found that backtracking and having to go through more scenarios became quite tiresome and I often lost track of the plot, which then led to me losing interest very quickly. What started off as a fun concept quickly felt like a chore to me.

As is the norm with Black Mirror, there are no happy endings and the story expectedly ends up being dark and depressing, which was to be expected and is no detriment. My biggest problem is that the interactive concept I feel detracted from the story and this was nowhere near as powerful as it could have been. I could see what Bandersnatch was trying to achieve and what messages it was trying to convey to the audience, but the lack of a linear storyline and a lack of clear direction meant I wasn’t as invested as I have been in other Black Mirror satories, I did find myself near the end of the adventure wondering when it was going to end, which wasn’t how I wanted to feel.

It’s a shame, because I’ve since done a bit of digging online and the amount of effort that went into Bandersnatch is astounding, and the makers must be commended for that. This very much felt like an experiment to me and I would be interested to see if we see future interactive adventures on Netflix that improve on and learn from this one.

That being said, reception to this film has been mixed, and I accept that there are many people out there that absolutely loved it. So I’m not by any means suggesting you don’t give it a try, in fact, I think it’s something that you need to try out and you shouldn’t let any review persuade you otherwise. (Which begs the question, why am I writing this?)

Personally, this just wasn’t for me and I didn’t find the experience that enjoyable. But who knows, you might do! If you’ve got a spare few hours in the near future, give it a try, see what you think.

I give Black Mirror – Bandersnatch a 5/10.

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