Welcome to REEL Film Reviewed the show that delivers short spoiler free reviews of films, TV shows, and limited series, followed by a deep dive discussion. Brought to you by your host,Kris Chaney, here is REEL Film Reviewed.
Welcome back everyone. This episode, REEL Film Reviewed another Netflix weekend binge-worthy limited series Archive 81. Let’s get into the spoiler free review. An Archivist hired, to restore a collection of tapes, finds himself, reconstructing the work of a filmmaker and her investigation into a dangerous cult.
I don’t know how dangerous it was, but okay. The story was a good mix of research and discovery. During the present as Dan was restoring the tapes and following melody, who is the filmmaker who making a documentary about a building and its residents. There is one story being told yet we’re viewing it from at least two perspectives, Melody, as she’s recording the tapes and interviewing the residents and kind of piecing things together and Dan who is restoring and then watching the tapes to ensure that they’re restored correctly of course. And he’s kind of learning the story as Melody is discovering it.
Of course, there’s more to the story than that. There appears to be something going on in the building. And as we find out more, more is revealed and we then have the question if there was really something going on or if it was insanity or cabin fever, or if that was even a factor.
I don’t think that there was enough there to say that it was just cabin fever or insanity. So there wasn’t any points during the series that. Under that impression, but really there was more development and effort put into telling us the main story about the building, which is called the Visser. This was a relatively less known cast.
There are a few, if any veterans in the film, the newcomers in the film that don’t stand out enough to make this a big break for. Mamaudou Aithe I’m not a fan of his yet. I first saw him in another Netflix project Uncorked, which also had Matt McGorry in it. He was typecasted well for this because he doesn’t look like a hero.
He’s not overly ripped or good looking he’s. I mean, he’s not bad looking. He’s just not that stud. And he is kind of a, kind of good at being. Quiet and average, he was all right. In this film, I felt his acting was maybe a beam. He was just convincing enough to be believed in this role yet not interesting enough to steal the show.
Dina Shihabi channeling the likes of Rachel Leigh Cook. Dina was perfect as the curious and gorgeous documentary film. Challenging authority and acting on her passions throughout the film. She does well at achieving that inquisitive reporter type. There was one thing that kind of stuck out to me, but I will elaborate more on that in the post viewing discussion, because I think it has to do with the ending of this year.
Ariana Neal and Matt McGorry both were the supporting characters, Ariana as Jess for Melody and Matt as Mark for Dan, they were the character supports, but also had vital roles. I will dive deeper into those roles in the post viewing discussion.
REEL-View is seven out of 10 stars. The series was fairly short, however, it felt much longer than it was with just eight episodes. It tells us many stories as it unfolds the main one and delivers some captivating plot twists that we can actually see coming, but don’t because we’re distracted by what’s going on in the present. I enjoyed the twist of the series because there were things that we could have caught onto, which is different in series where the creators are hiding details from the audience.
In this story, all the pieces were there and presenting themselves subtly. The ending, I believe will give everyone a bit of controversy the way they chose to end. It honestly made a bigger impact for the story, but it landed kind of weird. And I think it may have angered some people I’m still on the fence about it because there was something that happened, which confused the end for me, a little.
Archive 81 was released in 2022. It was created by Rebecca Sonnenshine, starring Mamoudou Aithe Dina Shihabi,, Evan Jonigkeit, Julia Chan, Arianna, Neal, Matt McGorry, and Martin Donovan. It is rated TV-MA and has eight episodes that run about one hour long each episode. It can be viewed on Netflix.
Spoiler Alert Warning
Alright here is these spoiler alert, warning, those new to REEL Film Reviewed, after this point, I will discuss this review further potentially and likely revealing spoilers. Thank you for listening to the spoiler free review. I’ll be back after a word about my sponsors.
Welcome back, everyone. Let’s dive into the REEL-View- hollywood comparison. The REEL-View was seven out of 10 stars. Metascore is not provided for series, but we do have theRotten Tomatoes score. Popular opinion was 7.6 out of 10 stars. Rotten Tomatoes gave it an 88%. All right, let’s break this film down. I’ve been steadily changing up this section because I used to regurgitate the film, but I would rather do highlights of the main pieces rather than doing a whole regurgitation of.
Okay, let’s run it back. Dan is a young archivist odd for this time period, but we’ll go with it. He’s single now broken up with his girlfriend and had a mental breakdown. After that his family all died in a fire when he was eight, and now he lives this existence where very fewer close to him. Save his good friend, Mark.
Melody, much the same. She has little to no family. Her mother gave her up when she was a baby. And she is vocal in the film about being raised by the clergy of the Catholic church that she was left in. We don’t see her after 1994, except for obviously the very end of the film. So you’ve got two main characters, one that’s in 94, one that’s in today’s timeframe. What I’m guessing.
The Visser, a common site where two buildings burned to the ground, which Melody moves into in 1994. So when Melody moves in, in 1994, there had already been a building there once that had burned down, then they built the Visser. And then now she was living in it in 1994. When Dan is reviewing the tapes, both buildings have burned down.
She begins documenting the residents and activities that she witnesses there and eventually gets trapped in the other world that they’re trying to kind of tap into. And she’s kind of this big whole thing. We’ll get into that a little bit in just a second. The ending Dan and mark team up to try and rescue Melody by returning to the compound where he was restoring the tapes and tries to get Davenport on board.
When he learns that Davenport was already aware of the cult and what they were actually trying to do. It was unclear what he was actually trying to do, but we assume that he was trying to raise the demon rather than trying to get sucked into the other world. He mentioned the other world, but it’s not really elaborated on.
I think there was just a lot left to assumption. I think as far as it goes to the explanations of that, I think we’re kind of just meant to know what Dan is trying to do and that Melody is actually trying to reach out to him and it’s not just something that he’s making up and there’s something that he has to actually do in order to get her back.
The series kind of takes us along that path and then puts it into perspective that that’s the mission that he’s got to try to. We get to another twist in the story. The groundskeeper is actually Melody’s long lost mother who wants to free her just as much as Dan does. That was actually my favorite part because there was a lot of give and take in this.
There was uncertainty and then they gave us the answer and an uncertainty and, and they gave us the answer. And so we kind of. We’re together. It wasn’t really anything we were confused about as we were going on. We were kind of just waiting for the story to unfold. I liked that, that we weren’t so confused and back and forth kind of like how I felt during the Eternals, but we won’t go there. I’ll review that after this.
Dan goes into the other world succeeds in finding melody to bring her back and then Samuel appears and pulls melody through a door. And the door is actually the correct pathway to getting out yet. Sam. Does not make it out. And neither does Dan. I understand why Dan doesn’t make it out because Dan is trying to grab Melody to save her from that door because that door was open and he’s kind of thinking like, Hmm. I don’t know which one’s the right one. So they’re kind of pausing for a second. When Melody starts to walk towards that open door and then Samuel appears and runs through it and grabs her. And then when we go back to the real world, I guess what we’re assuming is the real world. Samuel’s not there. It’s just Mark and her mother and Melody, which is odd because I didn’t understand why Samuel wasn’t there. Then you’ve got Dan who didn’t go through the door and he wasn’t even trying to, he was trying to save Melody because he thought that that was the wrong pathway. Well, he gets stuck in what I’m calling limbo because it kind of gave me some Inception vibes.
And I knew he was stuck. There wasn’t anything, obviously he wasn’t there. I thought it was kind of funny that Mark was like, “Dan!”, it didn’t really make it cheesy for the series because you kind of felt like that’s really what would happen in real life. Somebody would be kind of irrational and thinking that just by simply yelling his name, he would come back.
That was something that it was actually realistic that I enjoyed. All right. Breaking down the REEL-View. We’re going to start with the ending, because what I was confused about was I didn’t understand why Samuel appeared out of nowhere and why he pulled her through that door and why he pulled her through the correct door when he was trying to, I don’t know, what he was trying to do.
We weren’t really sure what he was trying to do. I know it’s made clear in the series that they weren’t aware that they were going to be sucked into another world. They thought that they were going to release the demon onto the world. We learn when Melody’s mother comes up and identifies herself at the end that she’s a Baldung, which is part of the, I think the witch’s coven that is kind of like the protectors.
I know she explains that you need to have the key and a Baldung, but the others. Have that. So that’s why it was going that way. And I guess what she was trying to say was they weren’t successful in raising the demon, but they were successful at getting sucked into the other world, but, or releasing the demon, I guess I should say that. Not raising but releasing, but then.
She does the same thing and she doesn’t have any risk of unleashing the demon. So that’s what I didn’t understand or was Samuel now the demon, and now he’s released into the world and we don’t know that I have no idea. This is listed as a limited series yet it does have a dash after the 2022. So we might have a season two of this, I don’t know, but it is set up to be a limited series and it appears. Not necessarily open-ended but pretty open ended. So I wasn’t sure about that. I wasn’t sure about the motivations for some of the characters and some of the groups.
I wasn’t sure about Samuel’s character. There was very little to no resolution with his character, and then he pops up at the end and there’s no resolution given there either. Those were some pieces that I was a little bit confused about. I definitely feel like I know what had happened. He was successful in getting Melody out and he ended up getting stuck in the other world.
As far as facts goes, that’s about the gist of what I got. We don’t know if Davenport is dead or alive or anything like that, but that’s pretty much it. We know that Dan wakes up and he’s in the hospital and he sees the news report where Kurt Cobain is announced that he was found dead. And this was in April of 1994.
It’s suggesting that he stuck in that time period, which means that he’s in this other world in 1994. One of the things that I know. And I brought this up in the spoiler free review, but one of the things I noticed was how. Much melody was able to film. They were pretty much allowing her to film whatever it was that she wanted.
And no one got hurt. Nobody. I mean, you saw the guy that got thrown off at the building, but nobody else got hurt. And you were kind of curious about that. Like, well, Melody seems to be like a huge pain in the ass for these people, but then at the end we kind of learned that. She’s who they’re looking for.
It was never really made clear as to why he was looking for her. He was looking for her because she was, I mean, I get, he says to her that she that’s how I knew you were the one I was looking for. I mean, he says that, but it’s never confirmed that she’s a Baldung until her mom appears at the end. So what was he looking for her for?
Was that the reason, what did he need her for to thin the veil and open the door? Right. There wasn’t anybody else that was seen in the first time. She wasn’t the one that was getting her throat cut. So I really don’t understand what exactly they were using her for. I know they were going to use Jess to cut her throat, but I didn’t understand, you know, just what exactly Melody’s role was in that, the other piece to that.
And I mean, if he knew that she was a belt on, then how come it didn’t work, how come they didn’t release the demon? How come they all got sucked in? You know? So it was just unclear as to where that story was. And we actually might have some answers to our questions because when we get down to the trivia, we will take a peak at that in just a sec.
And that was a smaller part, but I was a little bit curious about Jess. She’s not mentioned at all in the rest of the film, outside of saying that she gets out and she ends up becoming a net. And goes to Haiti or whatever, but nobody’s speaks to her or reaches out or communicates with her, like sh there’s no involvement or nobody attempts to reach out or find her, you know, after they learn who she really is.
So I kind of, would’ve liked to have seen that explored a little bit more, or have her come back and say something because she sort of is she’s born in that building. She’s groomed her whole life to take on this role. So she’s got a pretty strong beliefs. In this cold stuff. And then all of a sudden Melody comes to her.
It was already really, really hard for just to even believe her. And all of a sudden she gets out and then she takes off and she runs and she’s free. And then we never see her again at the Visser. She’s just gone. She’s done. I, she does go back in and she films everything and I maybe that’s what freaks her out.
And then she gets out, but I just would’ve liked to. I have seen her kind of come back and represent her part of the story and maybe give some sort of explanation or how she was able to get the tapes that she got, because she had her own collection of tapes that were in damaged that were given to her by Annabelle.
So I was just curious about that and I would have liked to have seen that story kind of come out a little bit more. All right. So let’s break down the little known facts. There are many references in terms of character names in this series that are found in Dante’s divine comedy or Dante’s Inferno, we’ll hear mentions of those characters like Dan T being Dante, things like that. Virgil. The Ferryman.
The series was based on a podcast of the same name. So now everybody has to go and open up your favorite podcasting listening ad buy in that one. First thing I did was go into Goodpods and find this. So I haven’t actually listened to any audio dramas. I have listened to a couple of true crimes. I’m curious as to how this one plays.
The podcast that the show was based on Melody is actually married to a woman named Alexa.
The film, The Circle is referenced in the series by a couple of characters and mama do athe did have a small role in the 2017 film.
That is all I have for you, everybody on Archive 81. Very, very interesting story. I really enjoyed the character building. It was a decent story and the way that it was shot and told, gave us enough of a mystery and enough weirdness that it keeps you interested throughout the whole show. I have got some feedback from others that said that it was a little bit slow.
I didn’t necessarily get that, but I’m an Ozark fan. (laughs) so when it comes to shows that have slow builds, I think I’m pretty patient when it comes to that. So if you don’t mind a little bit of a slowness, I certainly don’t feel that it was anywhere near as slow as some of the other television series. I think you just have to give it time to really get into the main story of what you’re finding.
Because again, it’s a series about a mystery and both Melody and Dan are who we are. As they are figuring out the mystery. As Melody discovers it on the tapes, Dan is discovering it as he’s restoring the tapes. It’s kind of like backtracking the story and kind of telling us the story in two pieces or at the same time.
Very interesting. I enjoyed it. And to know that it was based off of a podcast. Obviously super cool because I’m a, I wouldn’t call myself a screenwriter, but I, I am a filmmaker. And so it would be nice to turn some stuff from the podcast into a show or into a film that is the goal for script reads.
The segment that REEL Film Reviewed does from time to time. I’m releasing the second episode of that. I know everybody’s like, yeah, when’s that coming? But anyways, thank you everybody. It’s been a lot of fun. Releasing these episodes just wanted to give you a little shout out and thank everybody for supporting the pod and for supporting me in my journey in podcasting.
Thank you very much for listening everyone. I’ll catch you next time.
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Happy watching everyone.