TV Show: Archive 81
Production Company: Netflix
Directors: Rebecca Sonnenshine & James Wan
Producers: Bobak Esfarjani & Amanda Kay Price
Scriptwriter: Rebecca Sonnenshine
Main Cast: Mamadou Athie, Dina Shihabi, Matt McGory & Julia Chan
Release Date: January 14 2022
I had high hopes for Archive 81 to be a thrilling horror series. That was due to it being partly directed by James Wan, the director of The Conjuring series. Whilst the build-up was tense and intriguing, unfortunately the ending of the show was disappointing as it felt rather rushed. As a fan of the horror genre, there were very few horrifying moments and more sci-fi mystery antics.
Despite that, there are elements of witchcraft and the occult which adds an uncomfortable yet addictive nature for viewers. Most of the episodes are full of mystery and suspense and the actors are extremely talented in portraying their characters.
Synopsis Of Archive 81
An archivist, Dan, decides to take a well-paid job opportunity restoring damaged videotapes from 25 years earlier. Isolated in an eerie building, he stays for a few weeks watching the tapes back only to discover a strangeness happening.
He follows the documentor, Melody, staying at the Vissor apartments to document the people within it. She starts to discover a strange cult made of inhabitants of the Vissor building. She meets a young girl, Jess with whom she strikes a bond. Jess suffers from seizures with unknown causes and knows the in’s and out’s of the building.
Watching the tapes, Dan is confused and addicted to the story. We learn about Dan’s past and the unfortunate fire that killed his family. In the tapes, he sees his father, who at the time was Melody’s therapist. The link between Melody and his father intrigues him further leading him down the dark path of a deadly cult.
The setting in the TV show is very important to the plot twist. The show is set almost entirely in the Vissor apartments and Dan’s isolated temporary home. We later realise that this is the same building 25 years apart. Dan often sees Melody in his room later questioning his sanity amongst others.
The use of grey and dull colours of the apartment and building contrast the despicable acts of the cult and the uncomfortable energy throughout the show. So, the mundanity of the apartment complex distracts the world from the awful secret events that take place within.
Analysis Of Archive 81
This is a good watch for fans of sci-fi and mystery as it is successful in creating tense scenes and interesting paradoxical themes. However, to classify the show as horror is a mistake. There are at times bloody scenes but very mild in the world of ‘Leatherface’ and ‘Jason’. At times the story is a little confusing as plotlines start a fuse but never admit to much. So, there are a lot of plants that don’t pay off in terms of the plot. For example, we never really find out the cause of Jess’ seizures and they have no link to the cult.
On a positive note, the actors are very compelling and immerse us into the story. The characters are well written and the fictional cult is believable and refreshing in terms of witchcraft. It is a shame that the ending is rushed as the build-up was so effective and immersive.
Summary Of Archive 81
If you want an intriguing and mysterious story and you’re not a horror fanatic, you will love Archive 81.
Overall Rating: 7/10 – Respectable
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