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‘Archive 81’ Makes Me Want To Delete Every Digital Video Media File I Own

image credit: Netflix

Season 1 of Archive 81 dropped on Netflix USA on January 14, 2022 — a great way to start the year with this Netflix Original. I’m not one for horror movies or tv shows, I’m afraid of the dark (getting older year after year doesn’t seem to change that), I don’t like jump scares, I don’t like wondering what’s behind me in my mirrors reflections, and I always fall asleep on my back first so I don’t have to worry about anything being behind me, out of sight and watching me. Watching this show is definitely out of character for me, but it was time well spent.

The show begins with Dan, a video/film conservator, being sent to a mysterious and secure location to restore a large set of tapes. As he watches the recordings, he realizes the story he’s watching from the past is related to his personal life.

The recordings dive into the story of Melody Pendras, a young woman who moves into an apartment complex in New York City called The Vissor, hoping to learn about the whereabouts of her birth mother. Melody tries to interview the residents of the building in pursuit of her Ph.D. dissertation which is a history research project about the building.

Things begin to get a bit weird...

Anything seen through a pixelated, black and white video is automatically x10 scarier. Melody is frantic throughout the show, constantly on edge, trying to figure out why people in The Vissor behave so strangely. She records everything and everyone that she can, including herself. Her thoughts. Her clothes. Her apartment. It does begin to feel a bit odd knowing that so much of her life is on camera.

Things take a supernatural turn when both Melody and Dan begin to observe a face or a presence in the tapes. Melody’s eccentric friend Anabelle soon arrives and quickly becomes acquainted with the weird crowd at The Vissor.

The term otherworld becomes loosely thrown around to describe a world where people are neither dead nor alive. It is sort of an in-between realm where time functions differently. It is this realm that the residents of The Vissor are trying to reach through a mysterious, eerie, cult-style ritual.

In my opinion, the show was made really well. Honest acting with a good script and creative direction. It was the perfect blend of horror and mind-bending thriller, just enough to keep the viewers engaged and wondering what happens next.

As a side-effect of watching this show, I’m now inclined to delete all videos from my iPhone. I wish to leave no trace of my life in videos for people to see. I don’t want my great-grandchildren to stumble upon my family videos and observe an otherworldly presence hanging around beside me while I'm playing with my dog, having fun with friends, or relaxing beach-side on a vacation.

Some have believed that the camera can capture what the human eyes cannot see. As someone who is afraid of the dark, or anything unnatural for that matter, I’m not too keen on finding out what my phone has captured so far.

Watch this show. It’s definitely worth the 8 hours of your time. Hopefully, in a few days, I’d have calmed down and will no longer be boycotting digital media. Until then, I’ll keep overthinking about how I noticed my dog barking at a bare wall at home in 2009.

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Meghana Murthy

Meghana Murthy

Data Science | Octane | New York City | Books | Piano | Music