Archive 81

This show will leave you questioning if there is another world out there.


Erica Mae Valdellon, Staff Writer

Archive 81 is a horror fiction series that was once in the Top 10 of the most popular shows on Netflix in the United States. It was adapted from a podcast of the same name on Spotify. The first season has eight hour-long episodes, which were first released on January 17, 2022. Each episode contains interesting happenings, and I was constantly surprised and left on cliffhangers.

Mamaudou Athie portrays Dan Turner, a conservator who is logging a series of VHS recordings made by Melody Pendras, played by Dina Shihabi. An incident took place in the Visser apartment building in 1994, and it is very interesting to watch the many twists and turns in the smooth plot line.

The VHS tapes create a whole story of the strange happenings at the Visser apartments, and the people who are on the tapes are related to the people in the present time.

This series reminds me of Stranger Things and the Upside-Down, because it also features another dimension that opens up. The characters in Archive 81 choose to be trapped in a certain place and time, and the only way to come back is if a person from the other world is able to bring them back to the world where they belong.

The show’s title also sounds like a secret government file or something that leaves people with so many theories with no exact answer.

All the episodes of the series are amazing, especially Episodes 4, 5, 6, and 8. Those four episodes stand out to me the most and have a lot of events that left me speechless with unanswered questions. 

Unfortunately, the most disappointing part of the series is Episode 7, leading into the beginning part of the last episode. I don’t like what happens at the beginning of that episode, because it jumps to another event at a different point in time. At that point, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed, jumping from this event to another. But later on in the episode, it starts to make sense, and see how it is all connected  to what is happening on those VHS tapes and the weird phenomenons at the apartment building.

There are also these weird commercials or clips at the start of each episode, all of which connect to what will happen later in the episode. 

If you are a fan of scary, mysterious stories, then this show is for you. It gives you everything that you might expect a horror series to have. It leaves you speechless, and each episode leaves you in shock and looking for answers to figure out what is happening.

However, some parts of the season are confusing and unnecessary. Some scenes do not add to the story and lead the audience down pointless pathways. The series also features a lot of backstories, and we find out what happens on those tapes when Melody isn’t recording. 

But I wanted to know more from Dan’s point of view on each tape, instead of little shots of him feeling shocked or needing to rewind before the tape ends. It gets rather repetitive when we see him restoring the VHS tapes to a good condition, which takes up a lot of the first few episodes.

All in all, what happens in that apartment still leaves me questioning why the residents do what they have done, and the consequences of those actions greatly affect the present day. The commercials still give me the chills, especially how the story feels like a true story. Even the VHS tapes give a scarier vibe, since they are all glitchy and from a first-person point-of-view.

This horror series is amazing and I highly recommend it, since it has a more interesting plotline than the horror movies I have watched. Most of them only have a few components that leave their audiences more bored than interested. This defeats the purpose of “looking forward to it”. 

Hopefully, there will be a Season 2 of Archive 81, because I want to know if Dan will find a way back from where he was before his risky decision. And if you enjoy Archive 81, you might also want to view Servant, The Society, Them, and the iconic Stranger Things.