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Archive 81: A Must-Watch for Fans of Psychological Thriller and Horror

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Archive 81 made its debut on January 14, 2022, and has quickly grabbed the #2 spot on Netflix’s platform rankings. It’s marked as “TV Mysteries” and “Sci-Fi TV,” but the series is also a great story for those who love the paranormal, occult, horror, a fast pace, and high stakes. Full of tension and complex plot lines, Archive 81 will draw you in for an 8-episode weekend binge.

The story follows two protagonists: Dan Turner, a young man with an aptitude for restoring old and damaged video tapes, and Melody Pendras, a grad student who moves into a building called the Visser in order to film an oral history and find her lost mother. Dan, played by the wonderful actor Mamoudou Athie, is recruited by big business CEO Virgil Davenport to recover heavily damaged tapes. He remains alone in an old facility, restoring and watching the tapes. As the episodes progress, the lines between reality and dreams, the past and the present, begin to blur.

In these tapes plays the story of Melody, played by Dina Shibabi, who films her encounters in the Visser apartment building in order to investigate the whereabouts of her birth mother, Julia Bennett. Melody has a troubled past, raised in a Catholic School with severe anxiety— or perhaps a supernatural draw towards something dark. Melody’s new neighbors are hardly regular. Some are friendly, such as the medium Beatriz and the experimental opera composer Tamara, but some are rather suspicious, such as the aptly named John Smith.

The story builds as Melody begins to hear a strange, painful tune throughout the building. As desperate as she is to find her mother, her interests begin to turn to panic and a hunger to know what’s truly going on at the Visser. What is that mysterious song? Is there a cult meeting in the community room? What went on in the ruined building the apartment was built on top of?

Dan and Melody discover information together, but are separated by 25 years. Alongside lovable side characters such as Matt, the supernatural podcast bestie, Jess, the little girl who runs errands for the Visser residents, and Ratty the rat, Dan’s only companion in his hideaway base, the viewers accompany the protagonists through an intense journey of fear, mystery, and self-discovery.

Archive 81 is based on a 2016 podcast created by Dan Powell and Marc Sollinger. You can find more information on how to listen to the Archive 81 podcast here. If you love podcasts or spooky stories, be sure to check this out!

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Cal Lesser

UC Riverside '24

Hello! I'm a second year Creative Writing major at UCR. I'm a huge nerd who loves DnD, fantasy books, anime, webcomics, and RPG video games, and I'm a part of the LGBTQ+ and neurodivergent communities.
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