First there was Sadako and the VHS tape that killed you if you watched it in The Ring. Then there was the 2013 found-footage horror anthology V/H/S, which was followed by three sequels. Now, Netflix is premiering Archive 81, in which a series of video cassettes are going to drive a man insane… and he may be the lucky one.
Based on Daniel Powell and Marc Sollinger’s hit podcast of the same name, Archive 81 is unique in that the found-footage horror hasn’t been found by the audience, but given to the protagonist. Here’s the official synopsis:
“Archive 81 follows archivist Dan Turner (Mamoudou Athie), who 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 connection, Dan becomes convinced he can save her from the terrifying end she met 25 years ago.”
I posted the synopsis first because this trailer focuses a lot more on the vibes of the show, which are frankly quite unnerving:
Cults, insanity, demons in the ventilation, and I guess a woman who may have been imprisoned by very bad people for 25 years — there’s a lot going on, and presumably a lot to like if you’re a horror fan. Or a VHS tape enthusiast, I guess.
In addition to Athie and Shihabi, Archive 81 stars Martin Donovan as Virgil Davenport, Matt McGorry as Mark Higgins, Julia Chan as Annabelle Cho, Evan Jonigkeit as Samuel, and Ariana Neal as Jess. The eight-episode series premieres January 14 on Netflix.
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