Martin Carr reviews Black Mirror’s ‘Black Museum’…
Darker than pitch and exploring areas of the human condition which others may shy away from ‘Black Museum’ works on multiple levels. A barren desert scrubland with nothing for miles except an imposing structure with blacked out windows. Inside are artefacts curated by a highly intelligent, morally flexible owner with stories to weave and exhibits of questionable benefit.
That is the launch pad for what may be season four’s darkest morality tale. Told with economy, told in partial flashback and featuring multi-faceted performances with a twist in the tail. Psychological torture goes hand in hand with groundbreaking advancements as ‘Black Museum’ explores the breadth of human endeavour, human frailties and human self-interest. Brooker once again stretches the boundaries of what is happening, expanding it out to an exaggerated yet perfectly plausible conclusion. Both stomach churning in theory and ultimately unhinged come those closing credits.
Douglas Hodge is by turns engaging yet intellectually distracted, as owner and proprietor of the last great techno carnie going. His Rolo Haynes couples a Hammer Horror sensibility alongside his boxes of the questionably macabre. Each with its own story to tell, each giving us a peek into the human condition known as ambition. Letitia Michelle Wright meanwhile represents the other side of this two hander balancing her performance carefully between inquisitive patron and savvy enquirer. Soon to break out in Marvel’s Black Panther she is more than a match for Hodge, as they delve deeper into Brooker’s televisual debate on human morality.
Those involved in fleshing out these flashbacks throw themselves into proceedings with measured gusto, as each element evolves into something more sinister. Playing out like a reverse engineered Tales From The Crypt this episode stands alone in its final minutes to promote debate, challenge moral standpoints and ultimately embrace humanity’s darker side. As the self-proclaimed final episode it reflects the ethos which Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones live by, which is one of self- reliance on an episode by episode basis. With ‘Black Museum’ they have proven that Black Mirror has the capacity to keep going, as long as the world keeps fuelling Brooker’s fire.