Just ahead of Friday’s premiere of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, a trailer for the new Netflix film has arrived, and it already looks like the biggest, most ambitious Black Mirror project to date.
Bandersnatch seems to be a precursor to the series’ upcoming fifth season. Reportedly boasting more than five hours of footage, it’s effectively a choose-your-own-adventure feature film, and part of Netflix’s recent foray into interactive television.
Netflix’s title page for Black Mirror: Bandersnatch describes it as “mind-bending, offbeat, and cerebral,” and the trailer certainly teases all those elements. It manages to look head-trippy and futuristic despite its retro ‘80s setting — a first for the series, which has generally taken place in the near future. (Its simulated ‘80s episode, season three’s “San Junipero,” won two Emmys, so it’s nice to see the show returning to the period.)
The trailer also seems to bear out the plot summary detected by erstwhile Korean fans of Black Mirror, who translated key plot details leaked to Korean message boards as follows: “A young programmer makes a fantasy novel into a game. Soon, reality and virtual world [sic] are mixed and start to create confusion.” Dunkirk’s Fionn Whitehead plays the young programmer, who works for a company that is aiming to become a “hit machine” for video games. They’re adapting a book entitled Bandersnatch, by a fictional author named Jerome F. Davies; according to the trailer, Davies “went cuckoo and cut his wife’s head off.” And it looks like Whitehead’s character subsequently begins his own descent — apparently after going off his meds to gain a “bit of madness” for his work.
Both the film and the book within the film take their name, “Bandersnatch,” from a mythical long-legged, fast-moving, and ferocious creature with “frumious jaws,” created by Alice in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll. The creature is first mentioned in Carroll’s poem “Jabberwocky,” which appears in his mind-bending 1871 sequel to Alice, Through the Looking Glass, and then makes another appearance in his 1874 standalone poem “The Hunting of the Snark.”
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is directed by David Slade, who gave us one of Black Mirror season four’s most memorable and controversial episodes with “Metalhead” (the black-and-white one with the killer robot dogs). Say what you will about that episode, it’s clear that Slade is primed and ready to bring us a thoroughly quintessential Black Mirror experience. Order a self-driving pizza and ready yourself to spend the last weekend of 2018 diving down pop culture’s darkest rabbit hole.
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch debuts Friday, December 28, on Netflix.