“Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” — a Psychological Thriller for Those Seeking an Adventure

Tarn Bregman, Assistant Editor

This review contains some spoilers. 

Released in late December, “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” is a complex and brilliant choose-your-own-adventure based film that is worth your attention.

Rated as TV-MA (Mature Audiences) and advertised as the new way for adults to experience choose-your-own-adventure stories, this film will not disappoint.

As viewers watch the movie they are presented with choices to make. The interactive movie gives the viewer options throughout the film to help decide what the characters will do next. These decisions can be as simple as deciding what cereal the main character will eat, to deciding whether or not the characters can get away with murder. Every decision made has an impact on the outcome of the movie, regardless of how minuscule the decision may seem.

With so much pressure to make the right decision, the film only gives the viewer ten seconds to decide, which creates additional intensity. Once a decision is made, it is final. There is no rewinding to remake a decision or fast forwarding to skip a tough call. If the viewer wishes to remake a decision they must start the movie over again. This being the case, the viewer is already on edge regardless of how intense the film gets.

Regardless of the decision making, “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” is a psychological thriller. It was written to make you think, question, and feel as if you were Stefan, the main character. The movie follows Stefan (Fionn Whitehead), a video game programmer in the 1980’s who becomes obsessed with a choose-your-own-adventure video game he is designing based off a book titled “Bandersnatch”.

As the film progresses, the viewer watches as Stefan slowly begins to lose his grip of reality. Stefan begins to question the decisions he makes and if he is in control of his own actions.

Eventually, Stefan discovers he is being controlled by a force greater than himself. This is where the viewer can decide whether or not to reveal to Stefan that he is nothing more than a character in a movie that is being watched for entertainment. This is one of the most tough and strange decisions to make, taking the changeable plot on an intense and unique tangent. 

The true brilliance of “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” is not directly explained in the general plot. Once decisions have been made, and characters’ lives have been affected, there is still something more about the film itself.

The movie makes the viewer think they are in control. However, just like Stefan, the viewer has little control at all.

The movie itself makes many important decisions without asking the viewer what they think, touching on the greater idea of the film that people are not in control of technology but technology is in control of them.

With five main endings, each being uniquely different from the last, “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” makes it hard for the viewer to find satisfaction with whatever ending they reach. Once the credits start rolling, viewers will want to start all over again in the hope for a different outcome.

The movie itself runs at a minimum of an hour and thirty minutes, with endings that can leave viewers making nail biting decisions for upwards of two hours. This unique feature makes for a different viewing experience each time, not only in plot but in length, feel, and reaction.

What continues to truly make the movie so good is the fact that the viewer becomes so attached to Stefan. As a viewer, I personally wanted to make the best decisions for Stefan, but with the little control I truly had it was hard to stop him from spiraling out of my own control.

The relationship viewers have with the characters is truly a work of art. The viewer may want what is best but will ultimately not achieve it, making it harder and harder as the plot continues to change.

The performances within the film are stunning as well. Fionn Whitehead alongside costars Will Poulter and Craig Parkinson create beautiful, in-depth characters who often question their own crumbling reality. The performances add a more unsettling feeling to the film, making it the thriller it sets out to be.

Overall, this is an incredible and exciting new way to watch a movie. The layout of the film makes each decision seemingly harder, making it more and more intriguing as the movie evolves. Each decision makes the viewer want more and more until it is too late.

If you have not seen the film yet, be sure to check it out. It will leave you on the edge of your seat waiting to see what will happen next. You will truly be wanting more, even if your decisions lead to deadly consequences.

Overall rating: 9/10