Ever since Beyoncé released her self-titled 2013 album on all online platforms with absolutely no warning, everyone's been keen on doing the last-minute surprise drop. Netflix, particularly Black Mirror, loves this format, and has gotten really good at hyping up something like their new Bandersnatch in a matter of days, so that it becomes essential to watch if you want to understand why all your friends are talking about killing dads and tugging earlobes.
Bandersnatch, Black Mirror's new "interactive film," models itself after those choose-your-own-adventure books we all loved as kids of the '90s: the viewer makes choices for the main character, Stefan (Fionn Whitehead), who's caught up in development crunch time to get his game adaptation of the fictional choose-your-own-adventure novel Bandersnatch out by Christmas, by using their own personal black mirrors. It allows anyone watching it to drive the action, and includes a number of different endings, each bleaker than the last. Ultimately, it works better as an experiment than a cohesive story (or five), but that doesn't mean it wasn't worth the hype.
For many, interactive television is looked upon as the next frontier of entertainment, right up there with virtual reality goggles and shouting the names of songs at your Amazon Alexa across the room during a party. Netflix has tried it out before with properties geared toward children, but this was their first attempt at an adult-oriented interactive movie. And since grown humans are a little more discerning than kids, and since we all know by now that Black Mirror is at least capable of making truly exhilarating episodes (cheers to Season 3's "San Junipero," Season 4's "USS Callister," etc.), there was a lot of pressure to make Bandersnatch not only entertaining, but good.