While found-footage projects are fairly few and far between these days, it definitely hasn’t faded away completely. Coming a few months after Shudder’s well-received revival sequel V/H/S/94 is the new Netflix series Archive 81, from James Wan’s Atomic Monster. It already looks like it could shape up to be one of the best horrors of the year, and we’re not even through the first week of 2022 yet. But don’t take my word for it, and watch the trailer above to see what I mean.
If The Blair Witch Project was the film that sparked the found-footage revolution (despite not being the first of its kind), then Archive 81 appears as if it could spearhead a new era, thanks to its rarely utilized technique of mixing the recorded footage with standard stylized filmmaking. It helps that everything shown in the trailer looks freaky as all hell, too, with burned-up video tapes, bloody statues and oddball cult-looking people.
As the latest in Netflix’s slate of spooky genre fare, Archive 81 is based on the acclaimed podcast of the same name, though with more than enough changes to keep the original’s biggest fans on their toes. The story follows archivist Dan Turner (Black Box‘s Mamoudou Athie) after he’s hired to restore an assortment of damaged videos that were recorded in 1994 by a burgeoning filmmaker named Melodey Pendras (Jack Ryan‘s Dina Shihabi), and viewers can apparently expect a creepy turn from Tenet‘s Martin Donovan in the process. Melody was investigating a mysterious apartment building connected to the aforementioned oddballs, and considering the trailer ends on Melody asking to be found, it’s not a stretch to assume the character goes missing somehow.
It’d be one thing if this just invovled Dan watching the tapes, but Archive 81 isn’t so straightfoward. That character is clearly going through some bonkers and emotionally frantic moments himself, as he’s able to spark some kind of connection with Melody, perhaps through the tapes. Which, as it would go for anyone in that situation, makes Dan think that he can possibly save Melody from whatever fate she experienced 25 years earlier. Oh wait, no, that’s definitely should not be anybody’s go-to assumption.
Beyond having horror maestro James Wan on board as an executive producer, Archive 81 also boasts showrunner Rebecca Sonnenshine, a writer and producer for such genre-mashing series as the horror-tinged romance The Vampire Diaries and TV’s most diabolical superhero saga The Boys. Here’s the statement she put out to go along with the trailer, which definitely speaks to the eeriness of the preview itself:
As well, the series’ director set includes Spring and Moon Knight helmers Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (also of V/H/S Viral fame), Limetown and Stranger Things‘ Rebecca Thomas, and The Wilds and The Sinner episode helmer Haifaa Al-Mansour. It’s definitely a wicked talented line-up, and we didn’t even mention co-stars like Julia Chan (Saving Hope, Katy Keene), Matt McGorry (How to Get Away with Murder), Evan Jonigkeit (Sweetbitter) and Ariana Neal (Hidden Figures).
Check out Archive 81’s eight-episode first(?) season when it debuts on Netflix on Friday, January 14, and stay updated on everything else hitting the small screen soon with our 2022 TV premiere schedule.