Black Mirror: Bandersnatch Review

Jan 17, 2019


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Bandersnatch is the most recent release from the massively popular and multiple award-winning Black Mirror series - the birth child of Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones. Black Mirror’s broad appeal is down to two things: the high-concept writing, and its ability to tap into our deepest and unconscious human fears.

The latest installment is no stranger to the classic Black Mirror creepiness, which it dishes out by the bucket load. Nor does it lack the high-concept theme, being a feature-length interactive movie in which the viewer chooses the journey of the lead character.

If you don’t want spoilers, stop reading now and go and watch it on Netflix! However, if you’ve managed to navigate the maze-like plot once or more, read our Black Mirror: Bandersnatch review for all the secrets or listen to the podcast.

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch’s Premise

Throughout the film, set in 1984, we follow our programming protagonist Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead) as he aspires to create his own revolutionary video game. He’s in the process of adapting a best-selling ‘choose your own adventure’ novel, Bandersnatch - written by the psychotic murderer Jerome F. Davis. As Stefan tries to produce the necessary code, his mental health rapidly deteriorates - fueled in no small part by the twisting and turning plot of the novel he has chosen to recreate.

His father, Peter (Craig Parkinson), becomes increasingly concerned and encourages Stefan to return to visiting his therapist, the disingenuously detached Dr. Haynes (Alice Lowe). These visits illuminate the death of Stefan’s mother when he was a child, and the guilt and responsibility he feels for her passing away. Dr. Haynes increases Stefan’s medication levels in an attempt to regulate his mood. However, these are not the only drugs Stefan takes…

During a trip to his co-worker and mentor Colin Ritman’s (Will Poulter) home, he takes LSD. Ultimately, all these contributing factors lead to Stefan’s life coming to reflect that of the author of the Bandersnatch book, culminating in his own psychotic murder of his father for another grizzly Black Mirror ending.

Overall, the plot is really impressive. Although it can go down different paths because of your choices, at no point do any of the parts feel detached from one another. If you were to sit back and let someone else choose, you’d feel you were watching a normal film – that’s how well each section weaves together.

Also, the 1984 setting is a very refreshing avenue for the Black Mirror universe to take. Usually, we’re propelled many years in the future to contend with the latest haunting technology. However, Brooker cleverly turned this trend on its head by sending us back in time - capitalizing on today’s rising interest in retro gaming from current millennials in the process, with a nice easter egg included (see Nohzdyve below).

Bandersnatch Endings

Despite the smooth scene interlinks, there isn’t much real deviation from the plot. Although there are five main endings in total, the vast majority of viewings won’t feel like too much actually changes as a consequence of your choice.

You’ll notice this when you go back and make certain choices again. You’ll see that, in most cases, no matter what you choose it is almost inevitable that some of the plot points will happen. This is obviously understandable: the task of making such a diverse show must have been equivalent to Stefan’s herculean task of programming it (something revealed to us in one of the main endings of Bandersnatch). However, it does at points, feel like you don’t really have that much effect on the outcome.

Our Review Score: A

The acting in the show is top-quality. Fionn Whitehead does a great job in animating his decent into madness, and Craig Parkinson is a perfectly cast naïve, alienated father figure. The fan favorite, no-doubt, will be Will Poulter as game designer Colin Ritman: he delivers the nerdy, outcast, enthusiast feel with a good helping of humor.

The only issue is the replay value - with only hardcore fans being able to withstand the same scenes being replayed over and over again. However, that’s just like any other movie or TV series.

As such, we think Bandersnatch is another great addition to the Black Mirror franchise. Fans will certainly not be disappointed from the first few viewings, and it will only leave you chomping at the bit for Black Mirror Season 5. However, Brooker has a special surprise to fill the wait.

How to Get the Bandersnatch Nohzdyve game and play it on your mobile phone.

Play the Nohzdyve Video Game!

Bandersnatch wouldn’t be Black Mirror without plenty of easter eggs - and the most popular that’s been uncovered so far is without doubt the discovery of a playable Nohzdyve game.

Originally, it was accessed via a special post-credits scene - but the link has since been shared far and wide online.

Here’s how to download Nohzdyve (Nosedive):

  1. Head to the hidden Nohzdyve page
    1. If you’re redirected to the History page, try switching web browser. We’ve heard many stories of Chrome disliking the site and replacing the Nohzdyve section with a Bandersnatch game page instead.
  2. Get the nohzdyve.tap file
  3. Download a ZX Spectrum emulator
    1. There are many available for Windows, iOS (Mac, iPhone, iPad), Linux and Android
  4. Open the .tap file within the emulator
  5. Start playing Colin Ritman’s smash 80’s video game!

Although this is a “fictional” game that was never actually released, it will strike a significant chord with 80s gamers. Millenials have all types of fancy options in their arsenal these days - such as PS4s/Xbox Ones, virtual reality, and more games on mobile.

However, as we mentioned above, there has been a surge in classic gaming recently which means Nohzdyve will appeal to all ages. Another Brooker masterstroke.

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