Outrage as interactive Netflix film Bandersnatch lets viewers decide whether a child should die
- Interactive Bandersnatch is part of the acclaimed Black Mirror series on Netflix
- Viewer is asked to make choices which gives film multiple endings and lengths
- Ged Flynn, chief executive of charity Papyrus, said film was ‘irresponsible’
Viewers have been left sickened by an interactive Netflix drama in which they are asked to decide whether a child should die.
The film, Bandersnatch, also invites those watching to choose whether a character should murder his father or commit suicide.
Campaigners have voiced their concern about the damaging and ‘toxic’ effects of the ‘horrible’ TV drama on young viewers.
Set in 1984, the drama centres on Stefan Butler, a young programmer played by Dunkirk star Fionn Whitehead who battles depression as he struggles to adapt a fantasy novel into a video game.
One of the choices in the interactive film involves Stefan Butler returning to his five-year-old self so he can die alongside his mother in a train crash
Other characters include his father Peter, his therapist Dr Haynes and video game employees Mohan Thakur and Colin Ritman.
As the film progresses, the viewer is asked to make choices on behalf of Butler, which gives the film multiple possible endings.
One choice involves Butler returning to his five-year-old self so he can die alongside his mother in a train crash.
The viewer also has the option to make him kill his father, bury or chop up the body, murder Ritman or Thakur, and determine whether characters – including Butler – jump off a balcony.
While the film – which can last up to 90 minutes depending on the choices made – is rated by Netflix as being suitable for viewers aged 15 or over, there is nothing to stop younger children watching the film.
One viewer wrote on social media: ‘Started out having fun playing around with the choices, then felt sick at the horrible choices offered, and ended up getting annoyed at the repetition and futility of it all.’
Another viewer, who has vowed never to watch the film again, posted: ‘I felt like I was torturing a man and I still feel a bit sick at my stomach’, while a third added: ‘Am I the only one that killed Stefan and can’t stop thinking about it? I feel like a murderer.’
Viewers are asked to make choices on behalf of character Stefan Butler, which gives the film multiple possible endings
Some viewers thought the film, which debuted on Netflix on December 28 as part of the acclaimed Black Mirror series, should have been preceded by warnings to protect those with a history of mental health issues.
One wrote: ‘As someone with mental health and self-harm problems, I can not recommend Bandersnatch. It was one of the most indulgently toxic experiences I have ever put myself through. Stopped it after being prompted to either assist myself or another person in suicide.’
Ged Flynn, chief executive of charity Papyrus, which campaigns to prevent suicide among young people, branded Netflix ‘irresponsible’ and said it was unfortunate that the on-demand streaming service was not covered by the broadcasting regulator Ofcom.
He said: ‘It is totally irresponsible of Netflix, which should be promoting safe, albeit exciting, behaviour to its players. If this episode was broadcast on one of our national broadcasters I am confident it would contravene Ofcom guidelines on violence, dangerous behaviour and suicide.
‘Material that highlights suicide method by showing graphic examples can be seen as glamorous and encourage copycat suicides by vulnerable young people struggling between life and death.’
Helen Lewington, of the viewers’ campaign group Mediawatch-UK, said: ‘Netflix should be doing more to protect its younger viewers.’
A Netflix spokesman said: ‘We have parental controls and Bandersnatch is not available on kids’ profiles.’