Is ‘Archive 81’ on Netflix based on a true story?

by Netflix Archives 81 straddles a plethora of genres, evoking horror, sci-fi, thriller, and fantasy, with a dash of low-budget indie influences. And while the series, which incorporates found footage, raises a number of questions, many viewers will likely wonder if the plot is based on a true story.

Archives 81 follows archivist Dan Turner (Mamoudou Athie), a VHS enthusiast hired for a mysterious project involving recently salvaged tapes from the 90s. Melody Pendras (Dina Shihabi). Many tapes are melted and messed up, due to the building’s fire in 1994. As Dan restores and catalogs the footage, he is drawn deeper into the mystery of the building and its inhabitants. Also, when his own father appears on screen, he realizes that he is more involved in what happened than he ever thought possible.

But does Netflix Archives 81 Based on a true story? Was the Visser building a real place? And did Melody really document her life on a collection of VHS tapes? Here’s what you need to know.


East Archives 81 based on a true story?

With the use of VHS tapes, old-school camcorders, and stock footage, it’s easy to see why some viewers might wonder if Archives 81 is based on truth. After all, with the resurgence of VHS tapes and other analog recording formats, the idea of ​​finding someone’s long-lost video diary isn’t completely out of reach. But unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), Archives 81 is not based on a true story. The creepy creative series is actually fictional.

archive 81 mamoudou athie as dan turner in episode 10 of archive 81 cr quantrell d colbertnetflix © 2021

Mamoudou Athie as Dan Turner in “Archive 81”.


As you browse through all eight episodes of Netflix’s latest scary show, you’ll probably be pleased that Archives 81 isn’t real either. Thanks to its found footage format, the series strikes an important balance between almost plausible bonkers and downright bonkers. Think about Archives 81 like heavy nostalgia paranormal activity, or the original The Blair Witch Project meets Insidious.


So how did Archives 81 come to life?

Archives 81 started as a podcast, which was created by Marc Sollinger and Daniel Powell. The podcast is currently in its third season and already had a ton of fans when Netflix decided to adapt the story. As stated by the podcast’s official website, “Archives 81 is a horror podcast of found footage about rituals, stories and sound. These themes are all echoed in the TV show, which is led by the showrunner Rebecca Sonnenshine (The Vampire Diaries, The boys).

Discussing the inspiration behind the podcast, co-creator Powell said TV above the mind, “I’ve been working at a sound effects library for 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.” He continued, “I do this work from home, so I spent more time than anyone alone in my flat listening to strange noises. This experience, along with a general appreciation for the found footage style of horror storytelling, was a major inspiration.

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By adding visuals to an already haunting soundscape, Netflix helped bring the Archives 81 universe to life, and it’s quite a scary experience. Yes the ring still gives you nightmares, prepare for a whole host of bad dreams inspired by the videotape.

Does the Visser building exist?

Anyone wishing to visit the site of Archives 81The famous Visser building will be disappointed. Unfortunately, the Visser isn’t an actual location, and although it’s set in New York City, the series was actually filmed in Pittsburgh. Matt McGorry, who plays Dan’s best friend Mark on the show, said Pittsburgh Post Gazette, “The spirit of where something is filmed is usually part of the show’s DNA…Even though we’re supposed to be in New York, I know for me it was always Pittsburgh and it always will be. Pittsburgh on my mind.”

archive 81 poster


McGorry also revealed that the reason the town often feels so deserted in season 1 of Archives 81 that’s because the show was filmed during lockdown. “One of the reasons I’m hoping we get a season 2 is the opportunity to explore the city when it’s full and bustling and things aren’t as closed off,” he told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

Why Archives 81 feel so real?

With its mix of VHS-style found footage and a compelling cast of characters, Archives 81 often feels painfully real. And while 1994 wasn’t that far away, the use of analog camcorders and VHS tapes quickly date the series, placing viewers in a time capsule that feels both real and otherworldly. But by the time the first season hits its cliffhanger, it’s pretty clear that Archives 81 isn’t based on our reality, despite some of its all-too-real horror feeling.


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