Archive 81 📼
Be Kind, Rewind...
Welcome to Pop ‘n’ Pizza, a newsletter highlighting what’s new in pop culture and pulp fiction. This week, I’m talking about ARCHIVE 81, Netflix’s new horror series developed by Rebecca Sonnenshine (THE BOYS) and executive produced by James Wan (MALIGNANT, THE CONJURING). 🍕🥤
Genre: Horror / Science-Fiction
Release Date: January 14, 2022
Running Time: 8 Episodes (45–58 minutes each)
Studio: Atomic Monster Productions / Netflix
In Front of the Camera
Mamoudou Athie (UNDERWATER, BLACK BOX)
Dina Shihabi (DAREDEVIL, ALTERED CARBON)
Evan Jonigkeit (THE EMPTY MAN, THE NIGHT HOUSE)
Martin Donovan (TENET, COME TO DADDY)
What’s It About?
“An archivist (Mamoudou Athie) takes a job restoring damaged videotapes and gets pulled into the vortex of a mystery involving the missing director and a demonic cult.” — Netflix
Why You Should Check It Out
I love the “Evil Media” subgenre. I’m talking, of course, about horror movies and series in which there is a cursed or haunted piece of technology – the VHS tape in THE RING, the television broadcast from VIDEODROME, the Super-8 films from SINISTER, you get the idea.
I also have a deep and abiding affection for evil apartment buildings – the Bramford from ROSEMARY’S BABY, the historic Brooklyn brownstone in THE SENTINEL, the Cabrini-Green housing projects of CANDYMAN, and the dilapidated complex from Hideo Nakata’s DARK WATER, to name a few.
Netflix’s ARCHIVE 81 combines these two passions into a disquieting peanut butter & jelly sandwich of analog anguish and digital dread. Based on the found-footage horror podcast created by Daniel Powell and Marc Sollinger, the series follows Dan (Mamoudou Athie), an archivist charged with restoring and digitizing “a recently acquired collection of damaged videotapes.”
Dan is hired by the mysterious Virgil Davenport (Martin Donovan), CEO of the equally mysterious LMG (Legacy Management Group), who owns a remote research campus in the Catskills where Dan will complete this project with no internet or cell reception. As he begins to work on the tapes, Dan learns that they were recovered from a 1994 fire that burned New York City’s Visser apartment building to the ground – a tragedy that left 13 bodies never recovered, including the author of the tapes, graduate student Melody Pendras (Dina Shihabi).
What follows is a strange, unsettling descent into the unknown - a story about haunted videotapes, sinister apartment buildings, and a demonic cult that wants to unleash an ancient evil upon the world. ARCHIVE 81 is a handsomely crafted slow-burn that is as compelling as it is creepy, with an excellent cast and some dread-inducing direction by Rebecca Thomas (STRANGER THINGS), Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead (THE ENDLESS, SYNCHRONIC), and Haifaa al-Mansour (MARY SHELLEY).
Watch ARCHIVE 81 at night, in the dark, and think about all the times you’ve stared at a screen, and consider what might be on the other side, staring back at you.
Slices (Out of 5)
Where to Watch
ARCHIVE 81 is available on Netflix.
You May Also Like…
If you dig this, you may also enjoy:
ARCHIVE 81 (Podcast)
CHANNEL ZERO: CANDLE COVE (Shudder)
BROADCAST SIGNAL INTRUSION (Amazon Prime Video)
THE ENDLESS (Amazon Prime Video)
CENSOR (Amazon Prime Video)
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