Bandersnatch makes the wrong choice

Molly Schmeits, Entertainment Editor

Growing up in the 2000’s, I was exposed to the “choose your own adventure” books from the time I was born. Back then, the stories were lighthearted, and the choices the reader has to make were simple and not life threatening. Not only did the stories give uncomplicated choices, but also creative, not worrisome endings.

When I heard that Netflix was going to be releasing a movie that was a choose your own adventure, I was pumped. My 18-year-old self was going to be able to go back to my pigtail wearing, stress free 7-year-old self. I sat down on my couch and grabbed my PS4 controller.

Before I started this journey, I promised myself that I would take the riskiest route every time I had the option because I wanted to make the most out of the experience. I wanted the main character, Stefan, to live on the wild side. From the beginning I was intrigued. I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that a movie would be able to handle making decisions since I hadn’t seen it done before.

I started the program and instantly the PS4 remote started to shake, signifying that I had a decision to make. The movie started off showing Stefan laying in his bed. The time period is supposedly set in 1984, but some of the set pieces show otherwise. It was like they were trying to do the whole “vintage Instagram aesthetic” thing and it totally backfired on them, leaving it like a knock off Urban Outfitters.

The story line goes on, giving the viewer decisions that did not really matter. The first thing I was asked to choose was what type of cereal Stefan should have. I silently hoped that it would get more interesting, meaning that I did not want to choose what cereal the boy was going to eat again. I chose the “Frosties” because they honestly sounded pretty tasty.

“Bandersnatch” is a game that Stefan is trying to make a reality. He acquired the idea from the book form of it that his mother had around the house.

When Stefan goes to meet with the producing company, a new character is introduced named Colin (Will Poulter). The name might not sound familiar, but the face is easily recognizable. Poulter played Kenny Rossmore in “We’re the Millers.” The role in “Bandersnatch” was a total 360 from the timid, clueless, immature role he played previously.

Stefan is given the opportunity to work for the company if he finishes the game in a timely matter. As time progresses, the mental stability of Stefan is tested. My expectations were starting to fizzle. The movie was not what I expected. Rather than the light and airy tone that the books used to be, it was dark and dealt with many issues of mental health.

As the plot continued, I learned that Stefan idolizes a man named Jerome F. Davies, who was the author of the book. He buys a documentary about the man, and it shows how Davies lost his mind while trying to figure out the book. By having Davies as a role model to Stefan, a dark shadow is cast upon Stefan, almost as a foreshadow for what is to come for him.

One of the darker choices comes when Stefan is on LSD. The movie asked if I would rather have Stefan or Colin jump off a building. I sat there a good ten seconds thinking about what I should do, but in the end, I chose Stefan because of the promise I made myself at the beginning. Since I jumped, Stefan died, resulting in the movie to be “over,” or so I thought. What I thought would be a black screen was a choice to go back and start over. I decided that I wanted to start over, and try the other option, the one where Stefan does not fall from a ten-story building.

The best part of the entire movie is the option to go back and retry a choice that killed Stefan or hurt him in a significant way. I started over about five different times, each giving me a different outcome.

Each choice that is made effects the next step in the puzzle. One thing that I found odd throughout the entire story is that Stefan knew that he was being controlled. He understood that each choice that he made was made for him. I found this out of place. To me, the story would have been better if Stefan did not know that he was being controlled. The only thing that this knowledge added to was that he was going crazy.

Throughout the entire movie, I lost focus about one hundred times. The plot and the characters were very one dimensional and hard to get attached to. I expected to go “ooo” and “ahh” the entire movie but, it was more like “yikes” and “please stop.” After researching the movie, I came across an article talking about the chance of a sequel. I am curious to see what that would all entail, hopefully it is not as far out as this one.