May 25, 2024

ARCHIVE 81 (2022) – Found footage which should have remained unfound

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Rating: ⭐ 1/2

This 8 episodes mini series is based on a horror podcast that was first aired in 2016. The podcast was made out to be a series of restored “found footage” of recordings made by a woman, Melony, who mysteriously disappeared from a fire. The series takes on the main storyline from these podcasts expanding the “found footage” to a whole bunch of audio and video tapes restored and recovered from damage by an archivist, Dan.

Archive 81 takes its time in telling its story and the horror and supernatural elements only begin to slowly manifest towards the end of the series! This approach is not necessarily a bad thing. If done well, this could actually enhance the story flow and heighten the horror as it reveals itself. Done badly, it feels boring, and repetitive. Sadly in the case of Archive 81, I would have to concur that it felt boring and repetitive. The final episodes finally provided some enlightenment but it chose to end without a proper conclusion leaving the viewers and the protagonist, Dan in limbo. After sitting through 8 long episodes one would have liked it if the story were to have been given some sort of proper closure but instead it leaves us with a cliff hanger with many questions remaining unanswered.

It might have helped had the cast been a bit more commanding. As it is, both leads, Mamoudou Athie and Dina Shihabi who plays Dan and Melony respectively left no lasting impression on the viewers. Dan comes across as stubborn and unable to progress with his mystery solving as he ends up going round and round in circles. Melony meanwhile spends all her time recording without stopping to think. The plot relies too much on the irrational and sometimes inconsistent behaviours of the characters with the sole purpose of putting the audience off track and confused. Often minor characters are introduced with the sole purpose to provide some shocking scenes but which adds little to the storyline. Case in point, the medium who ended her séance session by devouring her face with her bear hands, or a drug addict who mysteriously appears to give some sort of ominous message only to fall off a building to land a few feet from one of our main characters.

For me, Archive 81 felt more like a waste of time than the supernatural horror mystery that it professes to be. Poorly written (all the characters fondly uses the FUC* expression whenever they are scared, angry, or reaches a dead end), poorly conceived and poorly acted. I would say give this a miss as there are so much more better things on TV today.

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