Archive 81 is the first of the Netflix Original series that I was excited about in 2022. It was the involvement of James Wan as a producer that had me interested in this show. Rebecca Sonnenshine developed the series with Paul Harris Boardman also serving as a producer.
How to Stream or Download Archive 81 TV series
You can stream it or you can download the series for offline viewing using the Netflix App. Click on the Download button at the end of the review.
The Movie Review
One of the more interesting things about the show is its origins. Archive 81 is actually based on a podcast of the same name which I thought was pretty cool. The story is about a young man called Dan (Mamoudou Athie) who has a job where he restores old videotapes. He is a pretty interesting guy, having survived a fire that took the rest of his family away from him as a child.
Dan is hired by a mogul called, Virgil Davenport who has a series of tapes that need restoring. These tapes were pulled from a fire in the Visser and are about what went down there. Davenport is kind of sketchy and as the tapes are in such bad condition, they cannot be moved. This means Dan has to be secluded in this weird research facility as he works on the tapes.
The tapes show us what happened in 1994 at this Visser building. Here we meet the second lead character, Melody (Dina Shihabi). Melody is a fantastic and interesting character that is looking for her mother and in her search, she finds out that she may have lived at the Visser.
What I like about the parts of the show set in 1994 is the way it is showcased. We get both a found footage style when Dan is watching the tapes, but we also get regular footage as well, the stuff that is not on the tapes. It is a very cool way of making a show and it certainly gives Archive 81 a unique kind of vibe.
It does not take long for there to be a supernatural twist! Melody realizes that there is a strange cult in this building and she is trying to figure out what is going on. She has an attachment to a kid in the building, who ends up getting pulled in by the cult. Add to this her and Dan being able to communicate through space and time and you have a story with a lot going on.
I love this kind of thing! I can see why some people might say that Archive 81 is hard to follow. It is the kind of show where you have to pay attention and you cannot be messing around on your phone while you are watching it, that is for sure. As much as I enjoyed watching this show it does have some pacing issues.
Like many other Netflix shows, Archive 81 is eight episodes long. I feel that they could have cut this down to six episodes and it would have been a better show for it. It is certainly a bit of a slow burn, but the end of each episode does usually leave you wanting to jump into the next. I have to say that the last three episodes are absolutely fantastic, so good I watched them all in one night!
Overall, Archive 81 is a strong start to the year from Netflix. I really do hope that it gets a second season as it does end on a massive cliffhanger. If you like the supernatural and shows with lots of twists, turns, and surprises, give it a go. Just make sure you are giving the show your full attention and you will get so much more out of it.