Storage 81 [Netflix] Review: A more amazing horror than scary

An eerie, otherworldly story is buried under the guise of frustrating repetition in this adaptation of the horror podcast of the same name.

Storage 81“It is a show that invites, almost demands, constant skepticism. There’s a kind of paranoia smoldering through this new thing Netflix Massively, vibrantly evident to the point that it was almost impossible to take anything of its face value. To a certain extent, that is the problem. In crafting the story of a humble archivist who agrees to restore a series of camcorders from the mid-90s, it is inevitable that what seemed like a simple task will give way to something big. and harder to use. What makes “Archive 81” such a confusing viewing experience is how it takes some wild ideas, spanning several generations, and translates them into a pedestrian presentation that robs the world of power. its other world.

The show’s first few minutes – after a quick opening with no context, each successive episode featuring a trick that subverts varying degrees of success – introduces Dan Turner (Mamoudou Athie), an employee at the Museum of the Moving Image, who has a mysterious, unexpected job offer. At the behest of a mysterious executive (Martin Donovan), Dan quickly leaves the special contract job. At a remote facility, working as a cabin crew, Dan meticulously cleans and retouches burnt-out footage of a series of interviews conducted at an apartment building in New York. in 1994. The architect of that project, Melody Pendras (Dina Shihabi), filmed more than just the usual over-the-shoulder conversations, flipping the camera on his own enough for Dan to slowly piece together the story behind the sentences. what’s going on at Visser Apartments.

“Archive 81” jumps freely between both timelines, with Dan trapped in a minimalist and dull video lab and Melody questioning the tenants about some of Visser’s quirks. The show weaves between things that get weirder for Melody in 1994 and Dan’s parallel quest for answers nearly 30 years later. Dealing with both at once is a structural constraint that stems from the podcast series the show is adapted from. Audio-wise, merging those thematically linked storylines goes a bit more smoothly, with the idea that any new “tape” could be Melody’s or Dan’s archive.

The circle that this TV version is never really square is absolutely the thing to do whenever Dan watches these tapes. Athie is a versatile on-screen presence who can play Grandmaster Flash or New Yorkers are for the brokenhearted, but here, he’s mostly worried about having to react to what everyone else has seen. Dan’s quest becomes like “Archive 81” itself: a series of sketchy looks at another time that are so surprisingly calculated and so unsettlingly simple.

Without going into too much detail about what Dan and Melody ultimately found, it is tied to a self-contained lore that stretches as if it has the potential to be felt, unfolding along a path of becoming memorized. in eight episodes of the season. Dan catches his podcast host friend, Mark (Matt McGworthy), while Melody keeps her friend and artistic wild card, Annabelle (Julia Chan), in the loop. That results in a large portion of “Archive 81” slipping into rule summarization and interpretation, often when a single detail in one of Melody’s tapes is enough to unambiguously explain the relationship. contact. Not that the show would have been better if it had been kept more, but most of the world-building steps of “Archive 81” outside of it were done in a way that felt imperative rather than productive.

Archive 81. Mamoudou Athie as Dan Turner in episode 101 of Archive 81. Cr. Quantrell D. Colbert / Netflix © 2021

“Archive 81”

Quantrell D. Colbert / Netflix

In 1994, Melody gathered information about her neighbors one after another: a scholar with a charming smile, a long-standing history enthusiast, a security guard who could protect more than anything. he allows, the child to be effectively raised by others in Visser. Through checking in with his mysterious benefactors, Dan reveals more about the personal coincidences between the tapes he is watching and the events of his own past.

“Archive 81” preserves a bit of the DNA of the found footage, but the more Dan completes his mission and the more likely he is to glean from sources other than the tapes themselves, the less likely he is. need to invest in finding out what. Melody is filming. Part of the inherent appeal of a story told through recall tapes is the idea that there’s something fundamentally unknowable about what’s happening on the fringes of what you’re watching. “Archive 81” renders that distinction meaningless early on and never quite finds a more compelling mystery to put in its place.

There are show crew members who try to keep their characters from being constrained to a single trait or focus. Chan delivers the needed appeal and sparks a story trapped by the dark cloud that constantly hovers over everything else. Before it ends with the gooey soup of Vissser’s dark side, there’s a faint hint of romance through in half of Melody’s timeline. For a story that hits a distinct tone, composers Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow have made some welcome contributions that are truly astounding. And a few visual touches really capture the fear this story needs to develop, especially one near the end of Episode 4, directed by “Spring” duo Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead .

For the most part, “Archive 81” focuses solely on the mystery that powers the forces of darkness in these tapes. The path to that end is sometimes very formal and laborious, and rarely has any other nuance to bring out any other tonal nuance. The end product – complete with a blend of ritual and faith, combined with a somewhat fragile concern for mental health – exists more as a collection of ideas. As each new wrinkle raises some new possibility, “Archive 81” rarely addresses how or where to best focus attention.

Rank: C +

“Archive 81” is now available to stream on Netflix.

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https://www.indiewire.com/2022/01/archive-81-netflix-review-horror-show-1234690744/ Storage 81 [Netflix] Review: A more amazing horror than scary


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