“Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” the interactive, choose-your-own-adventure film now streaming on Netflix. Written by Charlie Brooker and directed by David Slade this story is set in 1984 and follows a young computer programmer that is trying to adapt a fantasy novel into a video game. But not just any novel, it’s written by a man with a grim past and it’s also a choose-your-own-adventure book. And the further this kid gets into programming these different story paths, me begins to question reality as he slowly loses touch with it.
Now the story definitely did sound interesting. But I won’t lie, it was the interactive feature alone that pulled me so quickly to this project. I enjoyed choose-your-own-adventure books growing up and with a film promising to create that same vibe with a seamless flow I was both intrigued and extremely curious. I did have a good time with it. Early on it lured me in with some simple choices to get the feel and it wasn’t long before the decisions began to have real bearings on the story path which had me very fascinated. I also think the smooth flow of the decision-making process was excellent. The questions are posed at the right times to work perfectly with the flow of the character conversations.
It was very clever and extremely well-crafted. So, for that aspect I did feel like I was in control of the film for a bulk of it which I had a fun with. I do think later in the story you are sort of guided in certain directions meaning if you make maybe the wrong choice you end up circling back around. This did make things feel repetitive at times. But it was in small doses I think as the various ends of the narrative conclude swiftly to let you get back into the main flow of the story prior to major branches. I think I saw 4 possibly 5 different conclusions and they were all satisfying enough in their own ways.
The interactivity of the film was much more the focus than the story development though. It felt like a plot-line that was suited better with more layers and a more intricate progression. Simply because I think it was incredibly interesting and would have enjoyed exploring much more of the mind trip this character takes. Which honestly is hard to do with an interactive film like this. So, I think for that aspect while the plot-line itself was possibly too ambitious for the type of movie it wanted to be, it was still a nice balance of character intrigue with the novelty of being the puppet master for them at times to be a good time.
I just wanted to see more of this world and learn more about the characters. And that feeling increased once the decision choices began to overlap more causing the fun uniqueness to wear off a little. Take away that element of the movie and it was a story-line with a wild amount of potential to make some twists and turns that it just couldn’t accomplish with this format. But as it was, I enjoyed it. The experience was unique enough to have me curious about other potential movies that have this interactive feature. The performances were all solid. I thought Fionn Whitehead brought a great performance that showcased perfectly the mental breakdown of this character that did have my interest. Will Poulter was incredible as well in a very subtle way. So much in fact, I would have liked a lot more of him in this story. I do think his personality was missed at times during the film.
Overall though this was a fun adventure that I recommend checking out for the simple creativity of it. It adds a fun new immersive dynamic to the film watching experience and if you have the option for the interactive feature, I highly recommend it. The story was more surface level than I hoped for, but the performances carry it along. The music adds another great element and what the narrative does provide to the mix was enough to invest in for a trippy sci-fi thriller that you do get to have some control over.