Black Mirror’s “Bandersnatch” Review

A mind boggling adventure that you control, sort of.

Isabella Garcia

Disclaimer: the following review contains insights on the mechanics of how the game works and may or may not spoil the experience for a potential viewer. It does NOT contain major plot spoilers.


One of Netflix’s most recent original releases, Bandersnatch, written by the creator of Black Mirror, allows viewers to interact with the storyline of the film.


Taking place in England during the year 1984,19-year-old programmer Stefan Butler, played by Fionn Whitehead, dreams to create a game based on a fictional “choose- your-own-adventure-book”–Bandersnatch. Like the identical objective of the book and game he wishes to make, the audience can make choices for Stefan to ultimately have a happy ending. Each choice you make brings you to a completely different outcome, one of the five main endings.


A spoiler-free example of one of these choices is at the beginning of the film, game, whatever. Stefan’s father gives him a choice of two kinds of cereal to eat for breakfast: “Sugar Puffs” and “Frosties”. The audience has several seconds to decide or the choice is automatically made. The decisions become more serious as the episode progresses, and as the game goes on, Stefan is given the opportunity to work with a well-known gaming company that spirals into a bizarre journey, involving weird childhood-based resentment and new wild experiences.


As you keep playing and starting over again, you are able to pick up on certain patterns of the game, making it just the slightest bit easier to “crack the code,” if there even is one, and things begin to make the slightest bit of sense. It feels as if you’re in a hole but it isn’t at all annoying or aggravating. Coming from someone who doesn’t enjoy video games because of the need for repetitive restarts to try to win or accomplish whatever the objective may be, Bandersnatch is very entertaining and truly enjoyable, even if it does get confusing. It is definitely a brain exercise–just like watching an episode of Black Mirror–but crazier.


“When it’s a concept piece, a bit of madness is what you need,” a line from one of the characters Colin, a game developer, played by Will Poulter. This single sentence captures the essence of the entire film.


As free-range as your choices may seem, there does seem to be limitations. After making certain choices, you are given the opportunity to go back and change your decision, but ironically, you have no choice but to go back. This situation happens every once in a while during the film, so it seems that the developers and creators wanted viewers to go down certain paths.


As this does seem to take away from the “control” aspect of the film, in making a film with multiple plot points and in this type of delivery, it’s understandable why the creators had to shave down at least some of the possible outcomes. I’ve realized, after playing, that every decision you make has an impact on the rest of your series of events.


Overall, the Netflix film is definitely a must see. It’s insanely thrilling, has great acting, and there would be no other way to understand the Bandersnatch memes but to watch it.


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