Archive 81 is a streaming television series set in the American horror genre. Netflix released Archive 81 on 14th January 2022.
In order to restore a collection of damaged videotapes from 1994, archivist Dan Turner is forced to reconstruct Melody Pendras’ investigation into a dangerous cult. In the course of Dan’s fascination with Melody’s story, he becomes convinced that he can prevent the terrifying end she met 25 years earlier.
Archive 81 spans multiple genres as a 10-episode series. A variety of genres, including science fiction, Lovecraftian and religious horror, and a touch of fantasy, are woven into this noir series. The episodes sometimes seem to be overburdened with information, but the overload helps to balance the story, working out each strand as they go. With all of these elements interwoven across two timelines, Dan chases the rabbit for answers throughout two timelines that offers a sense of dread, tension, and confusion as he attempts to solve the mystery.
Dan, who knows the medium enough to be able to restore things that are lost to time, the elements, and something more sinister, is the kind of person who will enjoy this series if they like the nitty-gritty of shooting on film and capturing the essence of events.
The plot of the first episode develops slowly. However, the plot thickens in the second episode, and you become just as invested in the videotapes as Dan is. Throughout the story, Dan is watching someone while also being watched. This sets up a sense of suspense. The horror aspect comes into focus in episode 3.
In the story, there are a number of unanswered questions. Many subjects are covered, including the company’s interest in these tapes, Dan’s past and why they recruited him for the task, the reason for the building’s fire, the cult and which residents lived there, Jess’ behavior, and more.
The series explores themes such as religion, identity, and the unexplainable, providing much to think about. Podcast fans will find this series quite entertaining, especially when compared to listening to it as an audio drama rather than seeing it on screen.
In spite of its flaws, the series succeeds more often than not. This series offers so much potential for viewers that a potential second season would allow further exploration of this captivating world.
Runtime: 1 hour
Audio: English Dolby Digital
Where to watch? Netflix