‘Black Mirror’: ‘Bandersnatch’ Review

New Netflix Interactive Movie Lets Watchers Choose The Story

Kaley Johnson, Reporter

If you’ve ever seen an episode of “Black Mirror” on Netflix, you know that coming away from it, you will have a lot to think about. A show that usually uses the dangerous side of technological advancement to create an unsettling, but possible reality, “Black Mirror” decided to use Netflix’s interactive feature to make “Bandersnatch,” a movie in which the viewer chooses the actions of the main character, making us think we can choose the outcome.

The story follows Stefan, a troubled teenager in the 1980s, who is trying to pitch a video game idea to a company in which the player chooses the actions and also, much like the movie, the video game is called Bandersnatch. But it doesn’t stop there because the video game is based off of a choose your own adventure book with the same name. The story takes you through the plot of Stefan making his video game, but at certain points, like when another character asks a question or he has to make a decision, it gives you two or three options of what to do next.

At this point, I’m gonna give you a spoiler alert in case you still want to watch, but haven’t gotten the chance yet. There are multiple ways it could go, but I’m going to mention a few choices and endings that are all important to the story. 

During the first go through, I found myself continually frustrated with the first half of it, as often times if your choice interfered with the way story was supposed to go, it would give you sort of a mini ending and then take you back and make choose the other option. I later found out that this is by design but I’ll get to that later. 

As I continued through the story, it seemed like things were getting a little more effective with what I chose to do. Also, as the game went forward, I found that each decision became a little more grueling, intense and darker than the last, making you question which evil is more necessary. This didn’t surprise me as I have seen many “Black Mirror” episodes before.

One of the concrete facts of the story is that the author of the original book began to question his own free will while writing the book, barely finishing it before finally losing his mind believing that someone was controlling his decisions and life. I thought this detail was a really cool way of breaking down the fourth wall that was already quite thin. At one point, you actually have the option of telling Stefan that you are controlling him using Netflix, which as you can imagine, doesn’t help much.

In my first ending, Stefan ended up in prison due to a choice I made at a very gruesome point and his game ended up with very few stars due to being unfinished when it was released. My biggest complaint would probably be that this ending was probably the most common and that there were a lot of endings that were somewhat different, but basically along these lines. It was disappointing and very anticlimactic.

Once you hit an ending, you come to a page in which you can end the game or go back to a couple of different places, change your answer and see if you get a new ending. I did this a few times and once again received an ending along the lines of the last one. My third replay took me a different way that I felt was the best I was going to get.

Stefan ended up finishing his game in time and receiving five out of five stars, but he later ended up in prison for the same reason as before. In a time jump, it reveals that a new character is now creating the game for a movie on, you guessed it, Netflix. What I found more interesting about this ending though, is that before being arrested, Stefan is meeting with his therapist in which he reveals how he was able to finish the game with the success rate he had. He did it by creating an illusion of free will within the game, but really each ending took you to the general same route of an unhappy ending.

This is when I realized what I suspected, that there is no happy ending. No matter how many times you play through and how many more endings exist, which there are many more than what I found, you will never reach a happy ending for Stefan. This really messed with my head.

Overall, I really liked this interactive movie. The fact that there are still so many endings and choices I want to find is great because it allows me to binge it even though it only takes about an hour and a half to get to an ending. I also love that it made me wonder about my own free will and how human impulses work. I would strongly recommend this to anyone who has the right mindset and is willing to question your most basic beliefs.