‘Archive 81’ Review – The Hollywood Reporter

Over the past few years, “The Tale of Two Wolves,” of Native American origin, has replaced “The Scorpion and the Frog” as a compelling allegory for Hollywood screenwriters. Short version: Inside every human being there is a battle between two wolves, one is righteous and good, the other is generally good. Which wins? Twisted! It’s the one you feed.

It’s fitting, because inside it seems like every TV writer has two wolves, one raised in Stephen King books and movie adaptations and the other raised on Double top and David Lynch movies.

Storage 81

Key point

Spooky, if not pretty scary or weird enough.

Most of the time, Stephen King wolf wins, but if we just stick with Netflix, OA, Sense8 and Dark prove that sometimes the wolf David Lynch can win. If the wolf Lynch dies and you replace it with a Steven Spielberg wolf, you will Strange things. If the two wolves basically break even, you can get Brand new cherry flavor, though it seems the show’s creators think they’re backing the Lynch wolf. For a lupine binary, it’s very complicated.

Bringing Netflix’s new eight-episode series Storage 81, loosely adapted from the podcast of the same name, in that genre of shows where the creators think they’re striking a Lynch/Wolf King balance without ever going Lynchian enough on an emotional or meta-level real. It’s tedious and creepy, never taking the next step to the point of scary and unsettling, but as recent podcast-to-TV adaptations come out, it has a more visual and narrative purpose than most .

Developed for TV by Rebecca Sonnenshine and directed primarily by Rebecca Thomas, Storage 81 focuses on Dan Turner (Mamoudou Athie), a restoration specialist for the Museum of the Moving Image in New York. Dan is obsessed with the literal and metaphorical way of restoring seemingly irreparable things in large part because he’s haunted by the death of his family in a mysterious fire when he was a child. .

With the exception of his best friend Mark (Matt McGworthy), the host of the popular paranormal podcast, Dan has a penchant for self-isolation and depression, which makes him exactly the wrong person (or, according to him) narrative term, is the right person) for an oddity. The job is offered by the wealthy Virgil Davenport (Martin Donovan). Virgil needs someone to restore a collection of videotapes from the 90s that were damaged by a graduate student (Dina Shihabi) by word of mouth about a strange apartment complex that has fallen victim to a scam. a mysterious fire. And no, that fire wasn’t random.

The hot spot: The video seems so fragile that it can only be made in the remote countryside of Virgil, a Brutalist concrete structure filled with endless corridors, secret rooms and a lack of lack of cellular signal/Internet access especially. Immediately, Dan becomes obsessed with Melody’s tapes, which tell an ongoing story involving an evil cult, pseudo-modern opera, and some raw history of the City. New York – and he’s rightly questioning his own sanity. Before you can say, “This sounds like The Shining by Rosemary’s Baby, ” Storage 81 is making specific references to The Shining, because of Storage 81 nothing without being aware of its obvious effects.

As she did in her less successful podcast-to-TV syndication Limetown, Thomas quickly establishes a gloomy and ominous mood fueled by a washed-out color palette and startling sound design. This series can entertain you with the basic trappings of found film, augmenting Melody’s recordings with material from a series of lost 1950s horror anthologies, and using an excerpt Other style archives – local news, flashy ads, etc. – to start each episode.

I wish Storage 81 a little smarter or more committed to historical or nostalgic elements of a world of shoddy VCRs and camcorders. Strange, Kyle Mooney’s Netflix comedy Saturday Morning All Star Hits! does a lot of the same things, but has more of the details right, and frankly speaking on the whole, things get much stranger.

Dan’s growing immersion in Melody’s world gives the show a reason to avoid seeing the full footage for its flashback, but even with that justification, I don’t think Storage 81 use found footage format consistently. It’s not always clear to us whether we’re looking at what Melody filmed or simply her story from a general, omniscient third-person perspective. In other words, there’s a lot of cheating going on. And perhaps the best illustration of how Storage 81 The wolf Lynch is starving because Dan is tasked with recovering a collection of unlabelled, warped tapes, and he magically selects them in a completely linear order and the tapes do harm. manifests only in static spikes – notice the familiar shapes in the snow – rather than discarding any major plot points.

Dan is working very hard to solve the puzzle of the tape, but Storage 81 it’s too unsafe to ask the viewer to do any work. The holding opens up every revelation in the series, which stops short of predictability in the last few episodes – and only then because it slowly fades into silence in lieu of surrealism.

As the two unraveling protagonists of the story, Shihabi and Athie are brilliant, layering the nuance into lengthy passages where both are asked to just stare at strange things with eyes of horror or confusion. tangled. Shihabi is my favorite part of Amazon’s first season Jack Ryan, while Athie has been a valued member of groups such as Sorry about your loss and Downwardand it’s nice to see them confidently put on a show where style and premise can easily supersede performance.

Other highlights include Ariana Neal as Jess, a possibly dangerous young resident of the building Melody is documenting, and Evan Jonigkeit as an immediately suspicious college professor. Affecting an inconsistent accent that could be said to be Southern, Donovan conveys a lack of credibility perfectly, almost as if you have to constantly remember that he is a beloved character actor when adding names. he’s on a weird TV show instead of a character in a scripted TV series.

Even when I call the last couple of Storage 81 the plot is silly, the story is built quite well. By the second or third episode, you may have figured out the key takeaways of what’s going on and may have identified a movie, TV show, or book that does the same thing better. Come an episode or two after that, you’ll probably see what the rest of the season is like, and then with the spin of the last season in the end, you’ll be curious to see where a sequel goes. Whether the difference between “interested” and “curious” could be bridged by feeding that wolf Lynch a little more, I cannot say for sure.

A concluding warning: We’re about 5 years away from most writers getting rid of the wolf Lynch in favor of a Harry Potter wolf. You know it’s coming. Adjust expectations accordingly.

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