Do you have an uncle who has substituted going down internet conspiracy theory rabbit holes to such other activities as “getting outside once in a while” and “human interaction”? Then you’ll probably want to point them in the direction of their new favorite movie: The Mandela Effect. This indie sci-fi thriller, scheduled for limited release (mostly VOD, presumably) on Dec. 6, 2019, is using one of the web’s favorite “unexplained mysteries” as its source material.
The titular Mandela Effect is a name given to the wider phenomenon of commonly held false memories. Named after a false memory shared by a number of people that politician Nelson Mandela had passed away in the 1980s, it has also been applied in recent years to the fact that many people remember certain spelling’s differently—like the fact that The Berenstain Bears is often remembered as The Berenstein Bears. Explanations for the effect have ranged from simple cases of mistaken memory, to conspiracy theories that our reality is being manipulated by sinister outside forces. Certainly, this particular rabbit hole is popular among the “we’re all living in a simulation” crowd, and the internet folks who have a pathological need to feel like they’re part of a community with access to secret, forbidden knowledge.
The Mandela Effect feature film, then, confronts the phenomena by telling the story of a husband and wife who lose their daughter, only to spiral out of control when they start noticing the inconsistency of their memories of her. Starring Charlie Hofheimer and Aleska Palladino, it certainly seems to be positing the “simulation” explanation, with its programmer character realizing that if we’re all existing within a complex computer system, maybe he can just program his dead kid back to life. Right?
With production values that look on the amateurish side, The Mandela Effect will presumably be leaning on the dubious strength of its r/conspiracy-approved source material to get by. Still, there’s a certain corner of the internet that will feel very validated indeed by the existence of this film. Only … didn’t it used to be called The Mandela Affect?