Call it a late Christmas gift: on Friday, Netflix launched a chilling new standalone movie offering of Emmy winning sci-fi anthology Black Mirror.
The streaming giant officially revealed the premiere date just one day ahead of its debut when it released a trailer for creator Charlie Brooker’s first flick, called Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.
Billed as a Black Mirror event, Bandersnatch follows young programmer Stefan (Dunkirk’s Fionn Whitehead) who appears to be working at a video game company somewhere in the UK in the 1980s.
The era is implied by fashion cues, video tapes seen being slid into VCR machines and Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Relax as a sinister backdrop.
According to the YouTube description, the plot involves Stefan beginning “to question reality as he adapts a sprawling fantasy novel into a video game and soon faces a mind-mangling challenge”.
The novel was written by a man who, according to the trailer, might have gone “cuckoo, and cut his wife’s head off”.
As the 1.26 minute trailer opens, Stefan talks about the peculiarly vivid dreams he’s having.
As actual and virtual realities seemingly start to mesh, a woman on a flickering TV notes: “Your fate has been dictated – you’re not in control.”
“Change your mind. Change your life. Change your past. Change your future,” is the movie’s tagline, seen before Stefan appears with a knife.
What the trailer did not confirm is whether Bandersnatch is the rumoured Black Mirror ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ experience that a Bloomberg report in October said would be part of the series’ upcoming fifth season.
According to a report first released by The Independent and based on a page surfaced from the Korean Media Rating Board, the film has over five hours of footage.
If it is indeed an interactive ‘event’, the film will allow viewers to dictate events and outcomes using their remote control.
Ahead of the trailer, fans had speculated that the video-game storyline seems to be inspired by a 1984 video game called ‘Bandersnatch’ that was never released to the public.
The Independent noted that Bandersnatch was a video game developed in 1984, created by the Liverpool-based Imagine Software.
The company went broke after 18 months and the video game was never released.
While all the episodes in the four-season series are separate stories, they’re linked to the whole Black Mirror world through Easter eggs for keen-eyed fans.
In season three’s Playtest, the front cover of Edge magazine mentions a featured review for Bandersnatch. The magazine is used to encourage character Cooper to take the mysterious job with video game company SaitoGemu.
Poster for ‘Bandersnatch’ the game, a project which never saw the light of day — the game was developed in 1984, the same year ‘Bandersnatch’ the Black Mirror episode takes place (which we know as a set photo shows Bob Marley’s ‘Legend’ at #1 on the charts inside a record store) pic.twitter.com/SlzbERQHuR
— Kezia🍒 (@xiurongg) November 26, 2018
News of Bandersnatch’s arrival was first leaked earlier this month when Netflix tweeted and then quickly deleted a post about December programming dates from one of its official accounts.
There was also a weird listing for Black Mirror: Bandersnatch which merely featured a blank image with a buffering wheel, and the description “be right back”.
Brooker and his partner, executive producer Annabel Jones launched Black Mirror on the UK’s Channel 4 in 2011 before bringing it to Netflix for its critically-hailed third season.
Seasons three and four each launched with six episodes, including the Emmy-winning San Junipero and USS Callister.
Bandersnatch also stars Will Poulter, Craig Parkinson, Alice Lowe and Asim Chaudhry.
The movie is a taster for the upcoming fifth season, which is due in 2019. Netflix has not released an episode count.