Black Mirror S03E02 – Playtest
Another brilliant episode of Black Mirror – an augmented reality horror story, just in time for Halloween!
Cooper is a young American man, backpacking his way around the world and trying to escape family life, in particular the recent death of his father. He’s in London on the last leg of his trip, hooking up with a local girl and avoiding persistent phone calls from his mother. When he finds his bank account drained by an identity thief he realises he’s not going to be able to afford his flight home. Sonja, who works in the videogame business, suggests he takes a job testing a mysterious new game from a famous game creator. The location of the job is a big stately home, a bit like Downton Abbey, and Cooper is soon shown a small demo of the technology being he’s here to test – an implant is inverted in the back of your neck (he’s assured it’s harmless and non-invasive…) and allows you to see things that aren’t there. In this case, a small 3D mole which then allows Cooper to enjoy a cute little game of whack-a-mole.
And then it’s onto the main test. An upload to the implant means that it can begin learning what scares you and give you the relevant audio/visual senses to make it seem real. And the best setting to experience all of this – a creepy mansion, like something out of a video game, which resides nearby on the estate grounds. Cooper is given an earpiece, and is told that anything he sees cannot hurt him – he only has to say the safe word if he wants it all to stop.
So the game begins. Pretty light to start off with, but for someone like me who doesn’t like spiders seeing one running across the floor and up onto the chair where you are sitting, is enough to push you over the edge!
And then things get a whole lot worse. Cooper starts to actually feel some of the things that are happening to him. His mind is playing serious tricks on him, and he as well as us doesn’t know what’s real anymore. There are several twists, and moments where we think he’s woken up and it’s all over, only to find it’s not. And then a wonderful, but depressing ending…