Creator: Charlie Brooker
Director: David Slade
Starring: Maxine Peake, Jake Davies, Clint Dyer
Amongst the expectably sleek-bleak episodes of Black Mirror’s fourth season, Metalhead departs drastically from the rest of Charlie Brooker’s now-Netflix anthology. It is a black-and-white suspense thriller starring Maxine Peake whose drama removes the characteristic techno-ethical quandaries which propel the series’ popularity. It is a move that is sadly to the episode’s detriment.
The episode, involving Bella (Peake) being pursued in a post-apocalyptic landscape by a
relentless autonomous guard dog, concentrates too much on Bella’s attempted escape that it has no room for much else, rending the episode horrendously hollow; the twists and turns of the chase only highlight every wasted opportunity for the story to expand.
This hollowness is exacerbated when Metalhead is compared to the deep-set, intelligent
and well thought-out stories that are available in both this season of Black Mirror and the
entire series as a whole.
A positive is to be found in the monochrome cinematography, which is a perfect fit for the story, culminating in some exquisite shots that amplify the tension built by the ever-pursuing robohound. Nevertheless, come the end of the episode, this counts very little towards the dissatisfying reception the departure from the traditional Black Mirror tropes will inevitably receive.
The well-paced chase, Peake’s adequate performance and the gorgeous shots are enough to keep the viewer interested, but ultimately Metalhead falls victim to the success of its predecessors, becoming perhaps the most forgettable episode since Netflix took the reigns.