Monday, November 15, 2021

Black Mirror Revisit: Metalhead

Last year, I compiled a non-definitive ranking of Black Mirror episodes. Once a month, I revisit an episode, starting from the bottom. Herein lies #8!

The Talent: 
Metalhead easily boasts my favorite director: the underrated David Slade, who started his genre career with Hard Candy, continued with the better than it should be 30 Days of Night, made the only watchable Twilight movie, and served a key role on the outstanding Hannibal. We'll forgive him for Bandersnatch.

The Setup:
Presumably sometime in the black and white future, the world has become a wasteland. A trio of hardened survivors are on a mission to retrieve something for one of the children bunkering down in their safe house, but in order to find it, they have to evade society's new alphas: robotic dogs fully loaded with lethal ammunition.

The Ending:
It doesn't take long to trim the group down to just Bella, a scrappy and resourceful woman determined to bring home a teddy bear to a dying little boy. While she makes a valiant effort at thwarting a particularly feisty metal canine, she ultimately loses the battle, having been hit by some particularly nasty robot dog shrapnel right in her throat.

The Theme:
Metalhead is one of Black Mirror's starkest, simplest episodes, a 41-minute chase that's far more about the action itself than what it represents. Sure, one could dive REALLY deep into overthinking and write a thesis about metal vs. stuffed animals, but really, this is an episode created to scare you.

The Verdict:
And how nice and refreshing that is! Sometimes you just WANT a 41-minute robot dog chase in moody black and white. Like most good but surface-level horror movies, the overall effect of Metalhead does slip a little bit on second viewing, but it's still a ride.

See what I did there?

Technology Tip:
No matter how advanced your robotic design can be, as anyone with an iPhone and stash of dried rice can attest, no modern technology is immune to the dangers of liquid

The Black Mirror Grade
Cruelty Scale: 5/10
While Bella seems nice and incredibly undeserving of her fate, we don't really learn enough about her situation to have her end hit too emotionally hard.

Quality Scale7/10
This is a solid 41 minutes of television made by someone who knows how to stage a good long chase
Enjoyment Scale: 7/10
If you ever wanted The Terminator boiled down to 41 minutes, it's essentially right here for you

Up Next (Month): We work out our most flattering filters in the social media obsessed Nosedive

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