What do you get when a popular horror podcast series makes its debut as a Netflix series? You get a well-written, scary as hell series that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Archive 81 fits that bill. Find out why in my review.
What began as a podcast series about a horrifying discovery of found footage revolving around a mysterious fire and ritual sacrifice has become one of the most popular series on Netflix. Archive 81 is an American horror series featured on Netflix. The series was developed by Rebecca Sonnenshine, Paul Harris Boardman, and James Wan. It stars Mamoudou Athie, Dina Shihabi, Evan Jonigkeit, Matt McGorry, Martin Donovan, Ariana Neal, and Julia Chan. The eight-episode first season begins when a video restorer, Dan Turner (Mamoudou Athie), is hired by Virgil Davenport (Martin Donovan) the CEO of mysterious company to restore the tapes found after a tragic fire that destroyed an apartment, killing all its tenants in 1994.
What sounds like a great opportunity soon turns into a dark and scary mystery when Dan realizes that he will have to restore the tapes at Davenport’s isolated compound that has no internet or cell reception. Dan’s friend Mark (Matt McGorry) is worried about Dan living in isolation due to Dan’s history of mental illness following his family’s tragic death in a house fire.
As Dan begins to splice together the documentary tapes that originally belonged to Melody Pendras (Dina Shihabi) after she had moved into the Visser Apartment building, he begins to realize that Melody may have stumbled upon a dangerous cult that was living in the apartment building before it burned to the ground. It isn’t long before Dan begins to suspect that Davenport’s reason for restoring the tapes might have something to do with Melody’s search for her birth mother. Through flashbacks and the restored tapes, we follow Melody as she tries to connect the dots between her mother and the strange residents living at the Visser.
Archive 81 is a psychological thriller that grabs hold of you from the start and doesn’t let go of the pace or the frights throughout its eight episodes. Mamoudon Athie’s Dan Turner is the type of hero that you would hope to have watching your back when fighting a cult or a CEO with dark intentions. The acting is superb, and I found myself invested in learning, along with the characters, what had happened to Melody and the residents in that cursed apartment that was built over a mansion that was also burnt down many years before.
When Dan is somehow pulled into Melody’s world via the tapes and waking dreams, he has his friend Mark do the research that Dan isn’t able to do himself because of no internet. Everything that Mark finds out only adds more to the mystery of the tapes. I would recommend that you savour Archive 81 like a fine wine. Don’t binge watch but get to really know the characters in order to deal with the shock of the finale…which I was not expecting or prepared for. You can watch Archive 81 on Netflix and you can catch the podcast on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher or Radio Public.