'Archive 81' unspools another creepy, time-bending Netflix drama

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(CNN)Netflix adds to its queue of creepy, macabre bid with "Archive 81," a time-bending thriller that counts fearfulness manager James Wan among its producers. Those anxious for speedy answers won't find them, but the 8 episodes works capable bizarre seeds to efficaciously propulsion audiences done its fun-house mirror.

Archivist Dan Turner (Mamoudou Athie) gets recruited to reconstruct a postulation of videotapes damaged successful an flat occurrence during the 1990s, hired by a mogul, Virgil (Martin Donovan), who mightiness arsenic good person "There's More Going On Here" stamped crossed his forehead.

Screening the footage successful a distant determination wherever the tapes are stored, Dan gets pulled deeper and deeper into the acquisition of a documentary filmmaker who changeable them, Melody Pendras (Dina Shihabi). Her experiences instrumentality halfway signifier overmuch of the time, flashing backmost (mixed with the footage she shot) to her hanging astir the building, trying to debar provoking suspicions portion examining rumors of immoderate benignant of cult operating there.

    The much Dan watches, the much the lines betwixt past and present, betwixt phantasy and reality, statesman to blur, with the grainy video -- and glitches that hint astatine the supernatural -- compounding the trouble successful keeping them separate. That includes questions of what motivated Virgil to specifically question retired Dan, and assistance from Dan's conspiracy-minded person Mark ("How to Get Away With Murder's" Matt McGorry), who is helpfully inclined to judge the worst.

      The situation with thing similar "Archive 81" is to guarantee the fearfulness build-up occurs gradually capable truthful arsenic not to nonstop Melody oregon Dan screaming into the nighttime earlier we tin get to the "What's truly going on?" part. If the exemplary for this is simply a movie similar "Rosemary's Baby," it's worthy remembering those films didn't tease retired the uncover implicit 8 parts.

      Under showrunner Rebecca Sonnenshine, that balancing enactment is achieved, possibly inevitably, done dreams and fake-outs and different twists that make conscionable capable fog to warrant the investigators pressing onward.

      The reward for those with the patience to get determination is that the explanation, erstwhile it does commencement to instrumentality shape, really proves beauteous compelling, introducing a dense backstory and possibilities for extending the play beyond this opening salvo.

        "Archive 81" draws upon precise aged fearfulness themes, including whether seeing is truly believing, and however evil mightiness beryllium hiding successful plain view. Like the videotapes themselves, determination are glitches on the way, but dissimilar immoderate caller entries successful this genre (hello, "Brand New Cherry Flavor"), not capable of them to provoke hitting the "eject" button.

        "Archive 81" premieres Jan. 14 connected Netflix.

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