Welcome, Guest Sign InSign Up
This column popular content

Archive 81 unspools another creepy, time-bending Netflix drama

Details of the Archive 81 unspools another creepy, time-bending Netflix drama

Review by Brian Lowry, CNN

Updated: Fri, 14 Jan 2022 14:49:43 GMT

Source: CNN

Netflix adds to its queue of creepy, macabre series with "Archive 81," a time-bending thriller that counts horror director James Wan among its producers. Those eager for quick answers won't find them, but the eight episodes plant enough bizarre seeds to effectively pull audiences through its fun-house mirror.

Archivist Dan Turner (Mamoudou Athie) gets recruited to reconstruct a collection of videotapes damaged in an apartment fire during the 1990s, hired by a mogul, Virgil (Martin Donovan), who might as well have "There's More Going On Here" stamped across his forehead.

Screening the footage in a remote location where the tapes are stored, Dan gets pulled deeper and deeper into the experience of a documentary filmmaker who shot them, Melody Pendras (Dina Shihabi). Her experiences take center stage much of the time, flashing back (mixed with the footage she shot) to her hanging around the building, trying to avoid provoking suspicions while examining rumors of some sort of cult operating there.

The more Dan watches, the more the lines between past and present, between fantasy and reality, begin to blur, with the grainy video -- and glitches that hint at the supernatural -- compounding the difficulty in keeping them separate. That includes questions of what motivated Virgil to specifically seek out Dan, and assistance from Dan's conspiracy-minded friend Mark ("How to Get Away With Murder's" Matt McGorry), who is helpfully inclined to believe the worst.

The challenge with something like "Archive 81" is to ensure the horror build-up occurs gradually enough so as not to send Melody or Dan screaming into the night before we can get to the "What's really going on?" part. If the model for this is a movie like "Rosemary's Baby," it's worth remembering those films didn't tease out the reveal over eight parts.

Under showrunner Rebecca Sonnenshine, that balancing act is achieved, perhaps inevitably, through dreams and fake-outs and other twists that create just enough fog to justify the investigators pressing onward.

The reward for those with the patience to get there is that the explanation, when it does start to take shape, actually proves pretty compelling, introducing a dense backstory and possibilities for extending the drama beyond this opening salvo.

"Archive 81" draws upon very old horror themes, including whether seeing is really believing, and how evil might be hiding in plain view. Like the videotapes themselves, there are glitches along the way, but unlike some recent entries in this genre (hello, "Brand New Cherry Flavor"), not enough of them to provoke hitting the "eject" button.

"Archive 81" premieres Jan. 14 on Netflix.

In comments
AlexHello there
I’m interesting to buy t-shirt do you guys manufacture?
Saeed m kuweirLooking for sanitary wares complete toilet mixtures kindly provide me your images of your products thanks
Seth JiangHi I am looking for candles for US market, please contact me at sethjiang (at) standardfiberchina.com for more details, thanks.
Annabelle V GuabI want a stainless steel cookware from korea a set of 10pcs
elahe esmailiDear Mr/Mrs
we will soon need good quality crude glycerine for our production .please let us whole sale price ,the quantity we need is as a trail 100 ton
Belen LunaHello I would like to buy Mobile to resell in chile. We own a bussiness here for almost 20 years.it called Creciendo Ltda
Carmen CheungSourcing Manager of Home departments for Morrisons UK supermarket chains (500 stores in UK) - looking for supplier of bedsheets, towels and other home textiles products. Please send company info and quotes to carmen.cheung (at) wmmorrison.com.hk
How about joining ChaosI have been working at Doodleblue innovations full time and recently joined here.
How to join roast pig's trottersTeam co-ordination , Career growth, job security
How to join Gu BabaoUntrustworthy
How to join FentengChecker
How to join the magic e thinThey don't give any working experience certificate if left the job before 2 year they....
AmerSir you have good company how contact you
My email
ammarayub1905 (at) yahoo.co.uk
James carterLooking for house decor
Egyptian status
Betty boop status
Candelabra
Rollie Robles PerlasI need coconut oil supplier
Mesafint aregaI need Tannery Machinery, Hide Fleshing,Lime splitting and Shaving Machines
How to join bubble teaGood and familiar athmosphear in that company ..
How to open a franchise storeNot that much employee friendly
How to join Jiu Maojiunothing wrong
How do doulong manufacturers joinBoring. You only have to do as you are told. Using your own experience or knowledge is strictly not allowed.
How to join Ba Jie RibsWork pressure is very high, I have to work 11-13 hrs in a day
How did Xu Liushan join?worklife balance and friendly culture
lenin gonzalesI am from Peru I am interested in the products of your line I want to contact you I await your response
email: lenin222- (at) hotmail.com
Akm HaqHi I am looking fiberglass fishing trawler longer 32 metres with deep sea facilities. If you interested please email me, I will give detail specification. My email address is fazlulhaq1973 (at) yahoo.com
Related Products