“I just finished (insert show name here). Anyone have any streaming recommendations?”
I see a post similar to this at least twice a week on Facebook. And because everyone is streaming something these days, there are no lack of suggestions provided. Self included. I’ve answered these questions so many times that I started a cheat sheet on my desktop that I use as a basis depending on what their interests are. I typically see Ted Lasso suggested countless times and a lot of encouragement to go back and watch series that have already wrapped-up like How I Met Your Mother and Friends. My latest must-watch recommendation has been For All Mankind because it’s fantastic. Somehow Scott and I both stumbled across Archive 81 on Netflix and decided to check it out.
I’m glad we did because it’s different than anything else we have been watching.
It’s a stew of genres: part thriller and suspense, a bit of mystery and drama plus a whole heaping lot of horror. Not the jump-out-of-your-seat kind of horror; more like the what-the-heck-is-happening supernatural creepiness kind of horror. Oh, and there’s a dash of romance also… because, why not? It helps hold all the rest of it together.
Archive 81 revolves around two central characters: Dan Turner (Mamoudou Athie) and Melody Pendras (Dina Shihabi). Dan is a modern-day archivist who is hired to restore old video tapes destroyed in a fire decades before. Melody, on the other hand, is the one who recorded those videos.
Both of their stories unfold before our eyes as Dan works to restore and digitize the collection of tapes held at a remote location outside the city. From the very beginning, it is made clear that Melody is filming everything and everyone at The Vissar Apartments in hopes of learning about the mother who gave her up as a baby. She moves into the building and interviews residents but finds more questions than answers.
As for Dan, he unveils more than just old video footage. He discovers that the recordings contain something more paranormal. They also show a connection between Melody and the father Dan lost to a fire when he was just a kid. With the help of his best friend, they attempt to uncover what really happened to Melody and why his dad is in those tapes.
Of course, the assortment of characters that Melody meets during her research are as diverse as the rest of the story. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out whether some people were good or bad. In the interest of not spoiling it, I’ll just say that there are a lot of oddities and eccentricities that constantly emerge including a séance and some kind of paranormal worship ceremony.
It sure seems pretty cut and dry that the tapes were caused by a building fire, but there’s nothing simple about Archive 81. When Scott and I first starting streaming it, I likened it to Lost because there are crisscrossed timelines and a lot of really odd things happening in every episode. If you’re looking for something that’s a little edgier to add to your streaming list, Archive 81 is the one to add. But if you’re one of those people who likes to skip the intro credits, stop. They are part of the story and give hints as to what will be happening during that episode.
What new series have you been recommending for friends check out?