Archive 81 is an Addictive Slow Burn

Archive 81, Netflix’s new creepy thriller, perfectly blends mystery and horror in a tangled web.



Dina Shihabi as Melody Pendras in episode 6 of Archive 81.

Mason Faulkner, Photo and Image Editor

An original story loosely inspired by the popular podcast of the same name, Archive 81 is a supernatural thriller series executive produced by Rebecca Sonnenshine, James Wan, Michael Clear, Rebecca Thomas, Antoine Douaihy, and Paul Harris Boardman. Released on January 14 on Netflix, Archive 81 is an eight-episode mind-bending, psychological thriller, that draws its viewers in by just being straight-up creepy.

Archive 81 follows archivist Dan Turner (Mamoudou Athie), who is a videotape and film restorationist living in New York City. He takes a job restoring a collection of damaged videotapes from 1994.  Reconstructing the work of a documentary filmmaker named Melody Pendras (Dina Shihabi), he is drawn into her investigation of a dangerous cult at the Visser apartment building. As the season unfolds across these two timelines, Dan slowly finds himself obsessed with uncovering what happened to Melody. When the two characters form a mysterious and unexplainable connection, Dan becomes convinced he can save her from the terrifying end she met 25 years ago.

The main premise of the show, is there are two time zones throughout the plot. There is the present day, following Dan and his work while the other timezone is following Melody and her story. The show jumps between these time zones to give the viewer as much detail as possible. A lot of the screen time falls under the past timezone, of Melody. Archive 81 follows what she records, but also adds information so the viewer can u understand what is going on. I thought this was a very interesting concept, and really made you think about the show. You definitely needed to pay attention while you watched or you would miss some important information pertaining to the end.

The pacing of the show starts off very slow, as the show kind of sets itself up. Think if it’s kind of like a web. We start out with almost nothing to go off of, but by the end, there is so much going on, it tangles and intertwines with itself. You realized that everything to have watched up until the end had a purpose, so you go back a rewatch things in the hopes you didn’t miss anything. However, the slow parts and very engaging, and mysterious, and allows many unexpected and disturbing things to occur, including a couple of jump scares.

Archive 81 is more about the journey than the destination, but the destination was worth the journey. The ending was good, but it wasn’t as high quality as the rest of the show. It moved a lot faster than the episode prior which made it easy to miss some important details. It did however end in a cliffhanger, and the writers did set up the show for a season two.

Overall, I really enjoyed the show despite what some people have to say. I thought it started out slow, and I almost gave up on it, but by the fourth episode I was hooked. I watched about an episode a day, and I feel this is the best way to watch it. If you binge Archive 81, you may get tired and start to ignore some important details. As I said before, its a very psychological. There are a lot of plot twists, and plot items you need to figure out yourself. All of the episodes were entertaining and engaging. Each episode had a bit of creepiness that made the show a horror thriller. I would recommend this show to anyone who enjoys horror and wants a bit of a challenge while watching a show.