The Problem With “Bandersnatch”

On Dec. 28th, the creators of “Black Mirror” introduced an entirely new form of entertainment through “Bandersnatch,” an interactive movie where the viewers get to choose how the story plays out. Every three minutes or so, viewers are presented with two options for the main character, a neurotic game designer, to perform.  These options, in true “Black Mirror” form, range from which cereal to eat to how to get rid of a body. In terms of quality, the movie was pretty clever. The film never stops playing, seamlessly flowing into the choice you’ve picked without skipping a beat. However, the trouble with the movie lies with the plot and delivery.  I’m an avid fan of the “Black Mirror” series, but I found “Bandersnatch” lacking the magnetic intrigue and shock factor that keeps fans on the edge of their seat.

The plot of “Bandersnatch” revolves around a young game writer who is determined to develop a computer game based on a book of the same name.  In this game, the players get to choose the adventures and choices of the character – sounds familiar, right? The man slowly starts to lose his sanity while striving for perfection and attempting to cope with mental health issues.  He becomes paranoid that someone is watching him and controlling his every move, which, of course, is exactly what is happening. Although the concept is interesting, I just couldn’t stay interested in the narrative. Multiple times, I found myself turning off the show and watching something else.  I couldn’t care less about the fate of the characters or the outcome. The story wasn’t worth the time it took to play the game.

Apart from the plot, one of the things that was irritating was that there is no telling how long the movie will last.  According to the producers, it could take anywhere from ninety minutes to three hours to reach one of the many “true” endings.  There is no indication at the bottom of the screen as to how close you are to finishing. Until then, you may find yourself running in circles.  

Although you’re given plenty of choices while playing, the movie has a way of forcing certain plot lines to develop and abandoning other ones.  I found that, no matter which choice I made, I was directed toward a particular scene over and over again. The second time I played I was forced to watch the scene a total of six times.  It took me a total of two hours to finish the movie. Overall, I found “Bandersnatch” extremely disappointing in comparison to its predecessor’s episodes. “Black Mirror” is known for their avant-garde entertainment, but they should probably stick to the forty-minute episodes.  This type of entertainment is more for those who have multiple hours to spare, but not for those who like a good storyline.

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Alison Mader is a Junior english major from Alpharetta, GA. She is a staff writer for Cistern Yard and a self-proclaimed Harry Potter expert.

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