Programmingturns to panic in“Bandersnatch”
The Santa Clara
January 10, 2019
Remember those old “choose your own adventure” books? Netflix and their cult-hit “Black Mirror” are certainly banking on gimmicky nostalgia for the format—and hoping to distract audiences from the delayed fifth season.
The series, notorious for its twists and turns, is handing over the reigns to the viewer and letting them choose the fate of the characters in the new film “Bandersnatch.”
It’s based on a real-life game of the same name that was being developed by Imagine Software in 1984.
The game was never released, however, since the company went bankrup—mirroring the outcome in this new film.
“Bandersnatch” starts off in England with a young programmer named Stefan Butler who dreams of creating a video game for a popular gaming company called Tuckersoft.
Stefan is offered a job from the company, but must prove he can create an impressive and stimulating game by September so that it can be on the shelves by Christmas.
Over the short amount of time given, Butler experiences frustration when his game constantly crashes due to bugs. During these two months, Butler makes a handful of dark discoveries about himself and his father. Butler becomes so obsessed with creating this game that he starts to feel controlled by something in the unknown. He lashes out at his father and wrecks his computer on purpose. Flashbacks start to haunt him from his past and we learn about the absence of his mother. This reveals his resentment toward his father and the disturbing violent thoughts Butler has about him.
One morning while Butler is buried in his work, he becomes angry again and screams out that he knows someone is controlling his decisions.
The computer comes to life and starts to type out words confirming he is indeed being watched. This is when the movie starts to quickly accelerate and give off a dark and eerie vibe because now Butler bluntly reveals his awareness in your computer screen.
“Bandersnatch” has gained quick popularity through its uniqueness as an interactive film. Because of “Black Mirror”’s reputation of psychological twists and its uncanny realism, “Bandersnatch” automatically had to live up to those expectations.
There are some minor problems with the interactive side due to the limitations of what an audience can choose from. Meaning, if you make the wrong choice, the movie will come to an end and loop itself back to the decision you made, forcing you to choose the second option or immediately jump to the ending credits of the movie.
Every gimmick has its downfall, but overall it was entertaining to interact with Butler.
Because of such an abrupt ending, a viewer will most likely choose to go back to make the right decision. Obviously, an audience is looking to satisfy their burning curiosities and will end up spending a few hours trying to uncover hidden outcomes instead of actually choosing an option they want. In a way, this film has more control over the viewer since it builds the anticipation of interest, leading the viewer to make the choices of what “Bandersnatch” wants you to pick, otherwise, you will be stuck in a loop.
“Bandersnatch” caused an immediate stir in the media once people began obsessing over the many potential outcomes they could find in the movie.
Within hours of the release, people were making their own sequential diagrams of the possible outcomes so others watching could follow the correct steps to find the resolution they wanted.
Spoilers have been flying all over the internet with new discoveries of endings and fans have been racking their brains to see how this movie ties in with references to previous “Black Mirror” episodes.
The ratings were very high during the initial release but have dropped a bit after its first week. Rotten Tomatoes started off by giving the film a 97 percent score but has dropped to 74 percent. Reviews have been mixed between this being “Black Mirror”’s finest creation or the most time-consuming.
According to Roger Ebert, the film was an impressive obsession for an audience to immerse themselves in during the last week of 2018. Other reviews say it can quickly become a chore to sit through multiple resets and recaps—making it a mediocre film.
There were so many possible endings which brought me to wonder, what was the point? Then it hit me—there was no point. Each ending was dark and distressing—and confusing. The interactive abilities are what hyped up the show and the ending did not matter.
With its many endings and extensive hype, “Bandersnatch” is dense, making it difficult to summarize in one review. Each individual viewer will find his or her own outcome since the beginning, middle and end are always changing.
The only way to find out is to watch and experience Butler’s fate yourself.
Contact Azariah Joel at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4852.