I’ve had a few bad encounters with dogs. First I was chased by a dog when I was about six years old. When I was 10 my friend’s Rhodesian Ridgeback took a chunk out of my hip. That was the last time I’ve ever trusted a dog. Whether it’s a stray or a friend’s pet makes no difference to me. I’m sure you don’t share the same phobia. However, when you watch Netflix’s new episode of Black Mirror “Metalhead” you’ll be faced with one of the worst imaginable scenarios. A robotic dog that can shoot bullets, run 40 mph and shoot you with a tracker that will cause it to relentlessly and skillfully track you down for miles. There is nothing about this episode resembling Netflix and chill.

Metalhead comes to life

That’s exactly what creator Charlie Brooker was envisioning when he created this episode of Black Mirror. In this post-apocalyptic world, robot dogs are hunting human survivors. A dog like this has the technology to recharge itself with the sun, drive a car, and engage in high-speed chases while sending out a flurry of bullets in your direction.

That is what the main character (Maxine Peake), must face in this cruel mechanical struggle for her life. As we watch, we feel the qualities of the dog as it pursues the protagonist with endurance and skill. It becomes almost animate as some point; at points I caught myself thinking that it was a real dog.

My name is Metalhead, bitch

Metalhead is an intense ride so buckle up for some good action, suspense and some truly tense and bizarre moments. Machine hunts human is a familiar trope, but this episode feels way different than most previous films. There is a tightly knit psychological element built into this. It feels spare and raw and powerful. It has more in common with an indy film than it does to any summer blockbuster you’ve seen like Terminator or Predator.  

Metalhead feels real because in many ways it could be real. Not everyone has had the experience of running from a machine. But quite a few have had the experience of running from a dog. This hits home.