Playtest follows an American traveller (Wyatt Russell) as he winds up in London. However, when his bank card is rejected when while trying to book a flight home, he signs up to test a new gaming system in the hope that it will give him enough money to get back to the US. Of course, he maybe the one that’ll end up paying…
Seeing as Playtest is the horror entry of the season, it comes as no surprise that many tropes of the genre are present here, including a gradual building of suspense and jump scares (eurgh!). The execution of said tropes is managed quite well, though, and the episode never feels like it’s speeding down clichéd canyon – in fact, it plays with these clichés now and again, often turning the expected into the truly unexpected. Director Dan Trachtenberg also does a great job of gradually darkening the tone as the episode progresses.
I was a little unsure about the characters at first, including our main man, Cooper. I’m not entirely sure whether it was the acting or the script – or maybe both – but something didn’t sit right for the first fifteen minutes. Thankfully, any worries I initially had were put aside as the story started to kick into gear. Performances from this point on were completely fine, and just like episode one they peak during the final act.
In a few words…
Not a perfect Black Mirror episode, but still a fantastically thrilling watch.