Black Mirror: Bandersnatch: some reckon it’s a TV show, others that it’s a movie, while certain participants claim it’s a videogame – well, whatever the fuck it is, everyone’s talking about it. The one-off Black Mirror instalment is an ’80s-set choose-your-own adventure about a young videogame developer (Fionn Whitehead) who loses it while working on his masterpiece. At certain points in the narrative, you’re presented with choice options that you must choose between in order to progress further into the narrative.
Some are entertainingly inane – such as which tape he’ll listen to on his Walkman – while others are unbelievable dark. Will you bury that body, or chop it up?
The bleakness of the options becomes darkly funny, which will be no surprise to anyone who’s familiar with the work of veteran writer Charlie Brooker. In a three-star review, NME’s Olly Richards noted that “it’s very well directed by David Slade, who works up a strong feeling of claustrophobia and dread, while still keeping it very grounded and real. It looks like a kitchen sink drama that a fantasy horror keeps leaking into”. Perhaps predictably, Bandersnatch has divided critics and audiences, with some praising its ingenuity, while others have been frustrated that you often have to begin the narrative again when you select the ‘wrong option’.
In the video below, NME sits down with Brooker and producer Annabel Jones and asks about this divisiveness. “It’s experimental,” Brooker argued, so if you do something experimental people are gonna [be divided]. And also, we don’t know what play-through people are gonna have, so people are gonna react to it differently. It’s different if you’re watching it alone or in a group; it’s different if you’re watching it on your TV (which I think is the best way to do it).”
We also chatted to Fionn Whitehead and fellow star Will Poulter, who plays charismatic, clued-up programmer Colin, and the latter actor praised Bandersnatch as a multi-faceted piece of work. “I’m not sure it is entirely possible to uncover everything quickly,” he said.” I think it takes a lot of time and multiple views. Potentially some patience. But that’s the cool thing about it – no-one’s experience is the same. It’s very unlikely that you’re going to have the same viewing experience.”