Hey horror fanatics it’s me Slick Dungeon, back to review another episode of the Netflix series Archive 81. Just a quick warning there may be spoilers for the first three episodes below so be warned before we get going.
The first episode set our story up with Dan being hired to restore videotapes found after a fire at a building called the Visser. Through these tapes we see the perspective of Melody who is doing a study of the residents of the building. The second episode ratcheted up the connection between the two characters by revealing *spoiler* Melody was being treated for mental health issues by Dan’s father. There is also the potential implication that the two of them possibly had an affair.
While watching these tapes Dan keeps seeing things that don’t make sense. He sees strange images at times, there is a song on the tapes he knows his sister played right before she died in a fire, and there seem to be times where Dan is almost talking directly to Melody.
In this episode, it gets weird. There are times as a viewer where we can’t tell if Dan is dreaming, hallucinating, or somehow actually seeing what it seems like he is seeing. We get more of the backstory of Melody in this episode and start to see that almost everyone at the Visser has something more going on than what it appears on the surface.
There is a subplot with a girl named Jess who seems to have some kind of seizures on a regular basis. While in real life when we would see this happen, we’d all probably have Melody’s reaction which is to want her taken to a doctor to be treated, this is a horror show, so there has to be more to it than that. There is a priest and Jess’ mother who seem to think exorcism is the right approach. There’s clearly some connection between the Visser, Jess, Melody, Dan and Dan’s father all happening at once but it’s still too early to say what it is.
I think one of the most interesting things about this series is that it’s kind of subverting the trope of someone being stuck in an isolated space where horror is happening. While Dan is largely on his own, and he knows this can be bad, the company he works for seems to have people watching him. They have cameras everywhere but they also have a groundskeeper woman who seems to know way more about what he is doing than she should.
This flips the script a bit because usually we want to scream at people to leave the location they are stuck in. Dan can actually leave, and does. But still, there’s something about these tapes and Melody that keep calling back to him. In addition, there were a couple of big reveals in this episode. I won’t get into them here just in case people haven’t watched this far but there was one story with Dan’s friend on the outside that really surprised me and again subverted expectations.
So far, this show is really clever and ratchets up the horror to a high degree without showing much gore or anything overly gruesome. I’m really curious where it will go next.