When it comes to living in New York City, few things are as scary as real estate. But in Netflix’s “Archive 81,” premiering January 14 on the streamer, it’s not the rent or the rodents that terrify. It’s “pioneers of the imagination,” according to the trailer.
At least, that’s the impression given in the series’ first trailer. Based on the three-season podcast of the same name, the upcoming horror thriller finds a video archivist Dan (Mamoudou Athie) attempting to restore VHS tapes damaged in a fire. And as everyone from “The Ring” to “V/H/S/” knows, there’s nothing more frightening than what lies on analog.
Sure enough, Dan is able to restore some tapes just enough to become enmeshed in documentarian Melody’s 1994 exploration of a NYC apartment building, where some very strange things are happening, including mask-wearing, modern dance, and some very scary tenant meetings. Not to mention the demonic faces that start appearing to Dan in the present.
Here’s the official synopsis: “’Archive 81′ follows archivist Dan Turner (Mamoudou Athie), who takes a job restoring a collection of damaged videotapes from 1994. Reconstructing the work of a documentary filmmaker named Melody Pendras (Dina Shihabi), he is drawn into her investigation of a dangerous cult at the Visser apartment building. As the season unfolds across these two timelines, Dan slowly finds himself obsessed with uncovering what happened to Melody. When the two characters form a mysterious connection, Dan becomes convinced he can save her from the terrifying end she met 25 years ago.”
The series — named one of the seven to check out on Netflix this month by IndieWire’s Ben Travers — is based on Daniel Powell and Marc Sollinger’s podcast of the same name, described as “a found-footage horror podcast about ritual, stories, and sound.” According to the trailer, looks like all three of those are aptly represented in the TV adaptation.
Also in the cast are Evan Jonigkeit, Martin Donovan, Matt McGorry, Julia Chan, and Ariana Neal as Jess. Horror master James Wan (“Insidious”) serves as an executive producer, with Rebecca Sonnenshine (“The Boys,” “The Vampire Diaries,” “Outcast”) as showrunner.
All eight episodes will drop on Netflix January 14.