Now is your chance to tell Bear Grylls where he can stick it. In You vs. Wild: Out Cold (Netflix), an interactive feature allows viewers to guide the adventurer and the elder Man against Nature host through the last lot of rough terrain he found himself in. What is more imperative, food or water? Is it hiding from an approaching wild animal, or is it scaring it with loud noises? “You” click to find out just how “wild” things get.
The essential: In a desolate mountainous area topped with snow-capped boulders and blanketed in a forest of icy pine and brush, Bear Grylls swings upside down on a tree, tangled in his parachute and completely sheltered from the cold. “Help! Help! Come in, is anyone out?” A man’s voice shouts from a nearby radio station. And as Grylls comes to his senses and breaks free, it becomes clear that he has another problem: amnesia. “I’m going to need your help,” the adventurer says to the camera, and he sets off in search of water, food or shelter. But what a need for survival there is. Amnesic Grylls, lost on a mountain in an interactive world, needs the viewer to help him make that decision. Clickable boxes appear on the screen, and suddenly it’s time to choose Bear’s adventure.
You versus Wild: Outside the cold is an outgrowth of Bear Grylls’ television adventure stronghold, shows like Man against Nature and fame infused Running in the wild with Bear Grylls where the name of the game is the ability to survive in difficult conditions. With the added technological wrinkle of interactivity, the hook with Outside cold is not how Grylls will come out, but how you go Bring him out. In a clickable storyline, Grylls, playing with the hock on the angle of amnesia, moves to create a lean-to from an uprooted tree trunk and the remains of his parachute. He tells the camera that the movements look okay, almost like instinct, but that he doesn’t know why he has this skill. It doesn’t matter, because he is soon chased from this shelter by an approaching wolf. Oh no! Should he try to lose it in the forest below, or climb up the mountainside to the bare rocks above the tree line? It’s up to you to decide. “What are you waiting for?!” Grylls yells, pulling him high from the predator.
Whatever the viewer chooses, it becomes clear that Grylls must save the pilot of the plane he parachuted from, which crashed somewhere on the other side of the mountain. It can take a variety of routes, and along the way it conveys factual knowledge based on nature, explaining the broader points of altitude sickness, for example, or the relative energy that one can derive from altitude sickness, for example. consumption of cockroaches. And when the pilot is finally located, it’s time to go back and You against Savage again, only with a different set of prompts.
What movies will this remind you of? Outside cold and his counterpart Free animals are stand-alone titles from You against Savage, the interactive series Bear Grylls debuted on Netflix in 2019. The streamer also scored in the interactive space with 2018 Black mirror: Bandersnatch, and more recently woven the feature film into comedy with the decidedly wacky Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend.
Performances to watch: “I’m going to need your help here”; “No matter what killed that, he’s definitely more powerful than me.” Bear Grylls crosses the fourth wall with his trademark enthusiasm intact. The veteran TV personality manages to really sell the interactive track of You versus Wild: Outside the cold by simply expressing acceptance, which in turn dulls the voice telling you how silly it is. And with each set of choices, you find yourself more and more willing to click to maybe save their day.
Memorable dialogue: “Good job! Your survival skills were on high alert!” Outside cold hits viewers with that sweet, sweet surge of dopamine approval whenever a viable and successful route is chosen for Grylls.
Gender and skin: Certainly not.
Our opinion : The learning segments of classic children’s programs like Sesame Street and The electricity company were doing interactivity in the ’70s and’ 80s – they just didn’t have the technology. They asked young viewers at home to consider a cluster of numbers and the potential outcomes, as an on-screen child poured varying amounts of water into buckets of different sizes. Or maybe they would feature an animated series of letters, forming and changing with different sounds – it was you against the phonetics. These programs would have easily adopted the click-through interactivity of You versus Wild: Outside the cold, it is therefore natural that it is used in this way; it’s not so much a movie as it is a way to entertain curious kids and adults and sometimes educate them for 45 minutes to an hour, relating every choice Bear Grylls could make to his available outcomes. There is no plot, beyond the sketch of an accident, amnesia and survival to the elements. There is certainly no subplot. It’s just Grylls, his gear, rope, and the occasional stares into the camera you, the viewer, his silent expedition partner who is an expert in clicks.
Whenever Grylls hits a prime crossroads, suspenseful music blossoms and on-screen tools appear, clickable options in boxes and a horizontal line tapering off as you burn precious seconds. It’s a fun visual interface that effectively eases the tension and is sure to inspire young viewers to shout out their choices for the sequel as quickly as possible. But this is not the infinite Grylls. Follow the instructions and aid the adventurer in his quest, and with resolution come the questions: What about that wild animal out there? What about the tunnels? Double your choices and you’ll see where each segment connects in different ways. And each choice made is represented in a square at the bottom of the screen, allowing users to easily switch between timestamps. It’s really enjoyable the first time around, reminiscent of that rush of flipping the pages forward or backward in a pocket book choose your own adventure. But if you’re looking for action and a larger narrative, that stuff doesn’t grow on a mountainside that You versus Wild: Outside the cold takes place.
Our call: Stream it. The interactive nature of You versus Wild: Outside the cold is a pleasant novelty, a little fantasy streaming platform that is sure to become widespread. It also makes Outside cold a cool stone lock to keep the kids entertained at least once or twice, until the choices are exhausted.
Johnny Loftus is a freelance writer and editor living in Chicagoland. Her work has been featured in The Village Voice, All Music Guide, Pitchfork Media, and Nicki Swift. Follow him on Twitter: @glennganges
To concern You vs. Wild: Excluding cold on Netflix