If you’re one of the few science fiction fans who hasn’t had a chance to engage with the interactive film Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, you would be well advised to take the plunge in order to capture the latest pop-cultural zeitgeist.
In reaction to the smash-hit success of the latest Black Mirror offering — as typically dark, dreary, and ultimately disturbing as the other iterations in the canon — a slew of stores paying direct homage to Bandersnatch have sprung up across the United Kingdom, per the Mirror. With heavy shelves overweening with product paying homage to the 1980s milieu present in the choose-your-own-adventure movie, each store seems to be channeling the high-color, high-contrast visual motif common to that computing era.
Named Tucker’s Newsagents and Games, one such storefront in Birmingham boasts banners in a decidedly vintage font, echoing the textual style of the old Atari offerings. Comic books are also displayed prominently, with issues pertaining to other popular Black Mirror episodes such as “USS Callister” and “San Junipero” being sold in volume. Tuckersoft branding — the fictional computer game publishing company that offers to publish and distribute protagonist Stefan Butler’s game based on the branching paths of the Bandersnatch novel — is plastered throughout the shop, gracing display boxes and wall posters alike.
For those unfamiliar, Black Mirror is a cerebral horror series that encapsulates each story largely within the framework of a single episode — similarly to forebears The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is an experimental film format which allows viewers to decide, on the fly, which decisions the protagonist will make in service of furthering the narrative. From superficial and insignificant choices such as which cereal you’d like Stefan to munch on for breakfast to more major decisions that mean the difference between life and death, the storyline is unobtrusively nudged in the direction you prefer.
Not everything is as it seems, however. And, just like the page-flipping choose your own adventure books of the 1980s and 1990s, several of the branching paths that audiences might amble down will result in a dead end — literally. Per the Inquisitr, there are a number of different endings that await the tortured protagonist and his immediate family, not all of them pleasant.
It should come as no surprise to horror and science fiction fans that such pop-up shops are beginning to spring up in support of the Netflix hit. Running simultaneously with Sandra Bullock’s viral sensation Bird Box, it appears that streaming audiences are in love with chills, thrills, and novel intellectual properties.