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I waited an entire week to check out Netflix's Bandersnatch. I didn't have anything spoiled for me, except the fact this movie was an interactive film, where you make decisions for the protagonist named Stefan Butler (played by Fionn Whitehead, who deserve an award for his acting after everything I've put him through).
And when I started this film, I really didn't know what I was getting myself into.
[Here come the spoilers!]
When you start the film, there is a little tutorial on how to use your controller to make decisions throughout the movie. They make it known there will be two answers, choose one and wait until the answer is submitted.
The scariest part in this film, for me, was probably the seconds leading into the decision-making aspect, because my controller would vibrate, causing me to flinch every single time!
A brief summary of what this film is about: It's set in 1984 England and follows Stefan Butler, an amateur game designer who wants to turn the book Bandersnatch into a game. He creates a demo and gears up for a meeting with the game studio Tuckersoft where he's going to pitch them the demo he created in his bedroom. He meets with the head boss Mohan Thakur (played by Asim Chaudhry), and it's there Stefan meets a famous game designer, one that he admires, Colin Ritman (played by Will Poulter; the actor quit social media recently due to online trolls taking this film way too seriously).
Now, this is where the film gave me my first headache.
There were two decisions we had to make early on, the first was choosing to feed Stefan Frosted Flakes or Sugar Puffs. I decided on Sugar Puffs rather than Frosted Flakes because I wanted to go against the norm. The next decision we had to make was choosing what music he should listen to. I chose the Thompson Twins (because they sing one of my favorite songs "Lies").
Now, when we're at Tuckersoft, Mohan loves the demo Stefan created and he asks if he can help Stefan finish it off with a team, do the marketing, create the posters, etc. I chose "Yes" because Stefan needed help, at least so I thought. But how I was wrong! The film fast forwards into five months later where a game reviewer rips Bandersnatch to shreds because it sucked!
This causes Stefan to get mad and decide to start all over... which literally causes the film for me to start over. It brings me back to Stefan in the meeting. Mohan asks him if he'd like help on the project and apparently the answer is "NO" so that's what I end up choosing.
There are other choices along the way that have Stefan in therapy, deciding whether or not he should talk about his dead mother and deciding whether or not to take his medication or flush them.
Then Stefan gets aggravated because obviously working on a game by himself wasn't going to be a stroll in the park. We decide to ditch therapy and hangout with Colin because as he put it, "Stefan is in the hole," AKA Stefan has a game designer version of writer's block.
So Colin gives Stefan a drug (which we decide if we want to take it). This drug causes an acid trip, to which Colin tells Stefan that we can always restart our lives by ending what we have here—that's what I summed up from his speech and Colin brings Stefan out to the balcony. He asks us, "Which one of us is going to jump?" I sure as heck wasn't going to let Stefan jump, so I chose Colin. He jumps and falls to his death.
And then Stefan is attacked by a hideous monster and it restarts again!
But this time it has a few new scenes. Stefan has a breakdown and believes his father is part of the PAC (which means he's not in control of his life), so he kills his father and decides to call his therapist. Even with the clues presented like eight times, I couldn't dial the number so Stefan ends up burying the body in the back. Unfortunately, the dog—I was unaware Stefan had—digs up his father's body and we fast forward to the game being released and getting five stars, but poor Stefan can't enjoy it because he's in prison for murdering his father and the games are taken off the shelves.
We restart again!
At this point, Stefan is aware someone is controlling him and he asks us "Who are you?" and the choices were Netflix (touché Netflix) or some symbol. I chose Netflix and Stefan kept asking question after question after question. So I finally chose to end the conversation. This causes him to go crazy again. We finally had a choice to kill his father or let him go. The sadistic person in me chose to kill the father. He killed his father again, but this time, Colin decides to pay us a visit.
Stefan lets him in and he's there to help finish Bandersnatch and we are given the choices to kill Colin or let him go. I stupidly let him go and it ends with the game failing to come out on time and Stefan is once again in prison for murder.
Oy! Freaking Colin.
At this point, I'm giving up and seconds away from turning the film off. But something happens, Stefan's father decides to take his son to his therapist where he discusses Netflix... which he and his therapist have no idea what exactly it is.
Through her monologue, she implies that maybe the people watching him want his life to have a little more "action."
The choices then show up to be "Yes" or "F**K Yeah!" I clicked the explicit one and it turns into a whole fighting sequence in the therapist's office. Stefan throws tea at her face, she back flips, taking out two batons, and we are given the choices to "Leap through the window" or "Attack her" so I chose "Attack her" and he does. They fight as if Bandersnatch was a Kung Fu movie. The father comes in, fights Stefan, and we restart again.
At this point, I'm grinding my teeth, hoping for the end of this. I don't remember much of the choices after, but I get an ending of Pearl Ritman, who is Colin's adult daughter and also a game designer.
She is rebooting the game and writing it for Netflix. (meta much?)
We are then given a choice to "Destroy the computer" or "Throw tea over it." I thought throwing tea over it meant the character was upset so she would fling her cup of tea across the room in a dramatic soap opera type way. Instead she literally pours the tea allover her keyboard.
At this point, I give up and turn off Bandersnatch.
My Final Verdict
If you are gifted with the ability to be patient, then this movie might be for you.
I expected this to be kind of similar to what we got in the Goosebumps books years ago, where you flip through various pages, choosing your own path, but for this film, the happy ending isn't easy to achieve.
There is a deeper meaning in this film, but my mind was too distracted with the restarts and trying to see what wrong decision I made so I could change it.
I love that Netflix wanted to try something new with this film, and this isn't the type of film to "Netflix and chill" to, because you have to be on your toes throughout.
But this film definitely gets three out of five stars for being original and creative.
While I never got to give Stefan his happily ever after, I did enjoy the aspect of legally torturing someone and getting away with it.