Black Mir­ror: White Christ­mas

Ho ho hor­ri­ble

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2014 | 15 | DVD Direc­tor: Carl Tib­betts Cast: Jon Hamm, Rafe Spall, Oona Chap­lin It feels odd to dis­cuss a Christ­mas spe­cial out­side of De­cem­ber – which is per­haps why Black Mir­ror’s ar­rived on DVD in Fe­bru­ary with zero fan­fare. But it’d be a shame not to ac­knowl­edge Char­lie Brooker’s lat­est tech­no­log­i­cal night­mare here, be­cause there’s noth­ing else quite like it in the stodgy, sen­ti­men­tal morass that is the fes­tive TV canon.

For one thing, it ad­dresses as­pects of the sea­son that on- screen rep­re­sen­ta­tions gen­er­ally turn away from, be it the in­creased an­guish felt by peo­ple sep­a­rated from loved ones, or the an­noy­ance of hear­ing that bloody Wiz­zard song ad nau­seum. Like the very best an­thol­ogy hor­rors, it achieves some­thing fiendishly dif­fi­cult, clev­erly in­ter­weav­ing the fram­ing de­vice with its three sep­a­rate sto­ries, to make for a sat­is­fy­ing whole. Jon Hamm is ex­cel­lent as the glib charmer who guides the nar­ra­tive ( a no- brainer cast­ing choice, that), Rafe Spall even bet­ter as the bot­tled- up cynic har­bour­ing a ter­ri­ble se­cret.

The open­ing seg­ment’s de­pic­tion of schizophre­nia is ques­tion­ably car­toon­ish, to the point of re­in­forc­ing un­help­ful stereo­types. Oth­er­wise, though, it’s a flaw­less piece, chiefly be­cause Brooker’s ex­trap­o­la­tions of the dark places tech­nol­ogy might take us next – like the ex­ten­sion of “block­ing” be­yond the sphere of so­cial me­dia into real life – seem chill­ingly plau­si­ble given hu­man­ity’s seem­ingly in­fi­nite ca­pac­ity for in­vent­ing new forms of cru­elty.

Ex­tras: None. Ian Ber­ri­man

In­vis­i­ble chicken smiled con­tent­edly.

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