“Black Mirror” has proven itself time and again to have some of the best writing in television. “Twilight Zone” with a technological twist, the series has never shied away from the darker side of sic-fi. Episodes like “White Christmas” and “Shut Up And Dance” have told stories more horrifying than just about anything else you’ll be likely to see on the boob tube. It’s unfortunate then that it’s most horror inspired episode yet, “Black Museum”, is such a dud.
Using a toolbox that will by now be familiar to “Black Mirror” fans (consciousness transferal being the most prevalent) “Black Museum” tells three tales of horror, set around artifacts in the titular tourist attraction. Of course, this being “Black Mirror” there’s a macabre twist in each story, which include
- a doctor who get’s a robotic implant, letting him feel other’s pain
- a comatose woman uploading her consciousness into her boyfriend’s head
- an executed murderer’s digital projection tortured for the tourist crowd
and a wrap around featuring an excellent Douglas Hodge as the sweaty, skeezy museum curator.
None of the three stories manage to be very interesting. The first one is almost a straight slasher, but one that stays away from anything too disturbing. Those unfamiliar with gory films might be squeamish watching a few scenes, especially one featuring an unlucky homeless man and a power drill. Hardened horror fans though should be able to watch with no trouble.
Story two feels distinctly apes The Sunken Place in “Get Out” to a fairly obnoxious degree. There’s probably only so many way’s to portray being truly trapped in another person’s head, but I wish “Black Museum” had tried something that wasn’t featured in the biggest horror film of the year. They did a worst job too boot.
And story three is simply gratuitous, in a way that waxes unbelievable. I can buy visitors torturing a digital projection, but keeping a perpetually tortured conscious being in what amounts to a keychain? That’s something Jeffrey Dahmer would balk at, let alone a bunch of sandal wearing tourists.
The last anthology “Black Mirror” put out, “White Christmas” visited a lot of the same themes, and did a better job of displaying them at that. It also manages to be more thought provoking. The ending in particular is a great lesson in a kind of subtle horror that “Black Museum” completely lacks. It’s a shame that Black Mirror’s generally excellent fourth season ends in a dud. At least there’s five others to keep your interest.