One of the recent successes on Netflix, Archive 81 is the new horror series of the moment. Is this harrowing thriller inspired by a true story?
A hit on Netflix, Archive 81 is a harrowing and suspenseful horror series created by Rebecca Sonnenshine, who was a screenwriter on Vampire Diaries and The Boys. The horror thriller, produced by James Wan among others, follows the investigation of Dan Turner, an archivist who sets out to restore a collection of damaged video cassettes from the early 1990s.
Discovering the work of Melody Pendras, a student and documentary filmmaker who learned about the inhabitants of a New York building, Dan Turner understands that the young woman was in fact trapped in a dangerous sect and that her family was linked to this strange building. Scared but determined, Dan is convinced he can save Melody from the doom she met 25 years ago.
The Archive 81 cast includes Mamoudou Athie (Sorry For Your Loss, Underwater), Dina Shihabi (Ramy, Altered Carbon), Martin Donovan (Big Little Lies, Tenet), Ariana Neal (Hidden Figures) and Matt McGorry (Orange Is the New Black, Murder).
A series inspired by a podcast
Although this series summons Satanism and the supernatural forces which sometimes result from real news items, the plot against the backdrop of found footage is not inspired by a true story, as is sometimes the case with horror works. Archive 81 is actually a free adaptation of the eponymous scripted podcast created by Marc Sollinger and Daniel Powell and in which Dan traced Melody’s story through audio and not video cassettes.
The plot of the horror series is therefore false and is not even based on real places since the Visseur building simply does not exist. Set in New York, Archive 81 was filmed in Pittsburgh during the lockdown, which explains why the city is deserted on screen and which accentuates the spooky atmosphere of the series.
What makes the horror series so realistic and believable is the work done upstream on the podcast, which is already in its third season. The expertise of its creators brings additional weight to the series, as Daniel Powell explained to TV Over Mind :
“I’ve worked at a sound effects library for the past two years, and one of my jobs is to review and listen to all the sound effects we acquire before they go live on the site. I do this work from home, so I’ve spent more time than anyone alone in my apartment listening to strange noises. This experience and a general appreciation for the found footage style of horror storytelling was an inspiration major.”