Just when you thought that Netflix might have run out of ideas, they come up with ‘Black Mirror Bandersnatch’. We will talk about the movie itself later, but let’s first discuss what a brilliant marketing tactics it was: An interactive film. It’s not that the idea of interactive film is new — people who play video games know that. What’s brilliant on Netflix’s part is that they knew that just the concept itself would create such a buzz on social media that people would be curious to check out the film. I will be honest; I had no desire to ruin ‘Black Mirror’ by watching a film based on it, but then the whole idea of creating a film as you watch it made me interested. That’s when I decided to hit play on ‘Black Mirror Bandersnatch’.
For those who haven’t seen the film yet, here’s a short summary. In Bandersnatch, viewers make decisions for the main character, the young programmer Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead) who adapts a fantasy novel into a video game in 1984. The film is based on a planned Imagine Software video game of the same name. Now, as a film it is kind of gimmicky. But the real fun is in just playing along. I don’t think it is a film for purists; it is more for people who love video games or any other kind of interactive media. So, if you happen to be one of them and are looking for movies similar to Black Mirror Bandersnatch, I am here to help. Before we begin our list, let me clear that ‘Black Mirror Bandersnatch’ is first film of its kind. So, obviously, I can’t have interactive film recommendations. What I can recommend are the films that are thematically similar. With that said, here’s the list of movies like ‘Black Mirror Bandersnatch’. You can find several of these movies like ‘Black Mirror Bandersnatch’ on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
12. Assassin’s Creed (2016)
Let’s start first with a film based on video games. Then we will movie on to the more conceptual stuff. First on the list is ‘Assassin’s Creed’ based on the game of the same name. Assassin’s Creed’s popularity made it impossible to not make a film based on it, especially considering its storyline is perfect to be adapted for the big screen. With an ensemble cast including Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, and Jeremy Irons, the film is set in the same universe as the video game series but has a more realistic story which can appeal to all audiences. With its excellent sword fighting scenes and some cool stunts, it makes for a wonderful game-cum-movie-watching experience.
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11. Chaos Theory (2008)
Starring Ryan Reynolds, this film is titled to reveal the exact nature of chance. The plot accordingly follows a man who is in complete control of his life – a time management lecturer, Frank practices what he preaches and lives life perfectly. However, one day, his wife sets a clock back by ten minutes and he misses the ferry, turns up late for the speech and has an off day. Things turn worse when he helps a pregnant woman and there is a mix-up as his wife believes the baby is his and he is having an affair. In order to prove his faithfulness, he undergoes a paternity test but discovers that he is unable to have a child. The lie about his own life and the realization that his daughter is not his own and his wife has been unfaithful makes him go through withdrawal. However, he realizes the chaotic nature of life and decides to live life by chance alone. The film is one of the few that explores the butterfly effect without the use of science fiction or magical realism, just through everyday life and how random it is.
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10. Monsoon Shootout (2017)
This Indian noir thriller screened at the Cannes in 2013 but was released in India in 2017. The plot follows Adi, a cop wet behind his ears, as he comes face to face with a supposed gangster fleeing a shootout. Adi corners the gangster Shiva portrayed brilliantly by Nawazuddin Siddiqui. He faces multiple choices at that moment about the kind of man he wants to be – each choice has its consequences far-reaching and life-altering for Adi and those around him. Although the film reaches an apparent didactic end where the audience feels that Adi has lived up to his father’s expectations in taking the middle path, the director deftly includes a fourth scenario where Adi doesn’t live at all. A finely made film made more brilliant by stellar acting performances, this movie has not made enough waves amongst the audiences and it is a shame for it is a fantastic film that will leave you agape.
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9. Donnie Darko (2001)
‘Donnie Darko’, in its own little way, is a masterpiece from the aboriginal writer-director Richard Kelly, which flopped at the Box Office so stupendously, it made people stretch out on the country road, with hoardings “Middlesex ahead.” Released only a few weeks post 9/11, the conspicuously cerebral sci-fi warded off it’s audience with a passenger jet-disaster scene in the movie, but made headlines with critics who symbolized the rise of sci-fi and religion through ‘Donne Darko’. Since then, it has garnered a huge cult following. The movie is full of twists and turns, where time travel is not just a mere concept but a tool used by Kelly to construct an elaborate puzzle that only he knows how to solve. Love it or hate it, I can guarantee that you are not going to forget ‘Donnie Darko’ once you have seen it.
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8. The Butterfly Effect (2004)
Chaos theory is such a mind-boggling theory when it comes to Mathematics, which tells us that a small event at some place could lead to influential events far away. And when Eric Bress and Mackye Gruber made this theory into a film, obviously that was going to be something we hadn’t seen before. We see Evan (Ashton Kutcher), a teenager, who frequently blacks out due to unbearable headaches and is transferred to the past, where he can make alterations to his life and of others too. But when he finds out that small changes in the past can drastically change the present, Evan finds himself in macabre parallel realities. It is not a perfect film, but it is a damn interesting one.
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7. Coherence (2013)
‘Coherence’, a story of eight friends at a dinner party experience a troubling chain of reality bending events, is essentially based on a scientific theory referred to as Schrödinger’s cat theory. Schrödinger’s cat is a thought experiment, sometimes described as a paradox, devised by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger in 1935. In simple terms, it is the possibility of existence of multiple simultaneous realities at the same time. A fascinating film based on even more fascinating idea. Try it. You won’t be disappointed.
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6. Source Code (2011)
U.S. Army Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal is sent into past within a computed reality again and again in order to stop a bomber who seeks to kill hundreds. Marketed action thriller, ‘Source Code’ is actually an exciting and impressive cinematic work in the science-fiction genre, which unfolds in a fairly intellectual way; all thanks to director Duncan Jones, who previously directed ‘Moon’ (2009). Co-starring Michelle Monaghan, ‘Source Code’ is an enthralling mind game, which will give you no time to even blink.
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5. Primer (2004)
A story of two friends, who accidentally invent the machine that enables them to time travel, ‘Primer’, is the most mind-fucked movie ever made. Primer isn’t a traditional movie experience, but something that you might not have ever seen before. A completely confusing storyline, which when finally unfolds by the end, you are left more confused than when you started. Written, Directed and Produced by Shane Carruth, ‘Primer’ is a must watch for all ‘Black Mirror Bandersnatch’ fans. You might have to watch it more than twice to get full grasp of what is actually going on. As Esquire magazine quotes, “anybody who claims he fully understands what’s going on in Primer after seeing it just once is either a savant or a liar.”
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4. Frequency (2000)
This science fiction thriller directed by Gregory Hoblit follows the story of a firefighter and his son who accidentally manage to communicate through time and unleash a butterfly effect. The son John and the father Frank communicate thirty years in time during an aurora borealis. John warns his father of an impending warehouse accident where he dies in John’s timeline. Frank saves himself but an alternate timeline is created by this act – a timeline where Frank dies of lung cancer and John’s mother is murdered by a serial killer. The rest of the movie revolves around the father-son duo trying to stop and catch the serial killer respectively in their own timelines. However, the climax sees another timeline being created by the serial killer being shot by Frank. A timeline where the family is alive and well and wealthy (having invested in Yahoo!) and Frank and John enjoy a baseball game in 1999 where Frank is still alive since he quit smoking a long time back.
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3. Mr. Nobody (2009)
A boy, Nemo, stands on a station platform as a train is about to leave. Should he go with his mother or stay with his father? Infinite possibilities arise from this important decision. In “Mr. Nobody”, we see all of these possibilities and how the life of the little boy changes from the decision. Although it can be a little confusing at times, “Mr. Nobody” is an interesting, experimental, mind-bending film. It has an amazing cast, especially Jared Leto who is particularly fascinating playing the adult and old version of Nemo. With an incredible love story, its originality will absolutely conquer your heart.
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2. Groundhog Day (1993)
One of the very first movies based on the concept of going back again in time to fix things, ‘Groundhog Day’ revolves around Phil Conners (Bill Murray), an arrogant weather reporter, who is relives the same day over an over to win over his love. Bill Murray delivers a fine performance as the protagonist and turns Phil Conners into an entertaining goof. What makes this film unique is its light-hearted story-telling. There are no action sequences, thrill, and mystery, but only a man who lives the same day over and over, trying to make amends daily as he has all the time in the world. ‘Groundhog Day’, throughout the years, has gained a cult following. For anyone who loved ‘Black Mirror Bandersnatch’, this film automatically becomes a must watch.
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1. Sliding Doors (1998)
Yes, the film that comes closest to ‘Black Mirror Bandersnatch’ conceptually is actually this 1996 film starring Gwyneth Paltrow. It explores the life of a young woman who is fired from her PR firm and as she leaves she drops an earring. Later when she is rushing to catch the tube, her life is split into two parallel timelines based on whether she catches the train or not. Influenced by Blind Chance and the motif of public transport, this film is more light-hearted though Helen (Gwyneth’s character) goes through quite a lot. Both possibilities share a common ground where she is pregnant and loses her child. The first one sees her die soon after finding true love and the second sees her alive, but alone and having gone through a messy breakup. The film with its brilliant acting paved the way for alternate reality movies in the UK and remains one of the finest specimens of the butterfly effect.
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