Jan 282022

Dan is a genius film restoration artist. He can take burnt, moldy, water-logged tapes and restore them to viewable quality. His family died in a tragic house fire when he was eight, which is why he has serious trust issues as an adult. Still, he is great at what he does and he does have one friend who runs a mystery podcast.

Because of Dan’s talents, he gets approached by a mysterious rich guy who wants him to restore some video tapes recovered from an apartment fire in the 90’s. due to vague confidentiality reasons, all the works has to be done at a remote location in the Catskills, and he is going to be all alone with shitty cell reception and no internet. The land line works, but tends to crackle and pop because of the very obvious wiretap.

That is the premise for Archive 81, an eight episode series on Netflix. It is also just the frame story, because the real story is what is in those tapes. A young woman went to go live at a creepy apartment building to interview residents and learn the history of the place. The residents are weird, no one is allowed on the 6th floor and there is rhythmic chanting coming from the radiator pipes. Weird shit is going on.

This series checked a lot of boxes for me. There is found footage, restoration work, a mystery from the past and the mystery of who and why was Dan hired for this job. It is not a spoiler to say there is something occult going on. Better yet, the occult side is well done and not reliant on any Lovecraft Mythos or other familiar works. This is it’s weird thing.

The series is based on a podcast, which I have not heard. I enjoyed the series on its own and the ending was a bit open-ended for a second possible season, but also tied up enough that I was happy if it doesn’t get renewed. It is eight really creepy episodes about family, occult mysteries, and the hard work of non-detective investigators. I enjoyed it a lot.

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