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Music

MOVIE REVIEW: Archive 81

Cast: Mamoudou Athie, Dina Shihabi, Evan Jonigkeit, Matt McGorry, Martin Donovan, Julia Chan Director: Rebecca Thomas, Paul Harris Boardman, James Wan, Michael Clear

Genre: Drama/Horror

Duration: 10 Episodes

Now streaming on Netflix

Archive 81 follows archivist Dan Turner (Athie), who takes a job restoring a collection of damaged videotapes from 1994. What’s on the tapes? Well, it’s the work of Melody Pendras (Shihabi), a young documentary filmmaker who is set on documenting life in the Visser apartment building. However, a simple look into the lives of the residents morphs into a dark and dangerous descent into a cult. As the season unfolds across these two timelines, Dan slowly finds himself obsessed with uncovering what happened to Melody. As paranoia builds and obsession takes hold, the two characters form a mysterious connection. He learns more about her, the Vessir, and the fear she was spiraling into, and as he does so, Dan becomes convinced he can save her from the terrifying end she met 25 years ago.

As a 10-episode series, Archive 81 spans multiple genres. The series uses science fiction, Lovecraftian and religious horror, a touch of fantasy, and the spiritism of the 1920s all wrapped up in a noir obsession. At times, there is a little too much packed into scenes, but the overload manages to carry the weight of itself, working out each thread of the story as the episodes continue. With all of these elements pulled into one story across two timelines, we get the chance to be scared, tense, and ultimately confused by the mystery that seems to get deeper and darker as Dan chases the rabbit for answers.

Archive 81 deftly uses misdirects, timelines, and paranoia to keep you questioning what’s real, what isn’t, and ultimately where the story is going.

Rotten Tomatoes

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