Is Archive 81 Scary? (& Does It Have Jumpscares)

Is Archive 81 Scary? (& Does It Have Jumpscares)

One of the newest shows on Netflix is Archive 81, which doesn’t give you much in its title but is actually a psychological horror series that is going to be fun to watch on a slow Saturday night. We aren’t strangers to horror shows on Netflix, but Archive 81 seems to be something we have never seen before because of the psychological side of the story. But, while Archive 81 is tagged as a horror series, is it actually scary, and does it have jumpscares?

Archive 81 is a tense psychological horror movie that isn’t the scariest film of all time but knows how to scare you in a manner that goes beyond simple scary ghosts and apparitions. However, Archive 81 does have a few jumpscares that happen from time to time, but those are not what make it scary.

The thing you need to know about horror is that there are many different ways to scare people. While jumpscares have become quite common, especially when it comes to horror movies and shows with ghosts and supernatural apparitions, something as simple as storytelling can be a good way to scare people as well. That is one of the things you will notice with Archive 81.

Is Archive 81 Scary?

Archive 81

Netflix isn’t a stranger when it comes to horror shows. We have seen this in the likes of The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor. And there are also a lot of other horror shows like American Horror Story that you can stream on Netflix.

But the thing about the different horror shows that you can watch on Netflix is that they often share the common denominator of relying on ghosts and other similar apparitions that bring all of the scary elements that people tend to love in horror. And this kind of experience might be something you are expecting from Archive 81.

Archive 81 is one of the newest horror shows to make its way to Netflix. It is a series that is loosely based on a podcast of the same time, as it may seem like a monster horror show at first when you look at its trailer. However, one of the things you will quickly notice about Archive 81 is that it has its own way of scaring you.

So, in a sense, Archive 81 is not the same kind of monster or ghost horror movie that you might be expecting, especially if you are used to the likes of The Haunting of Hill House. Instead, it is actually a psychological horror-thriller that still promises to scare you in its own way. But is Archive 81 actually scary?

In a way, yes, Archive 81 is scary and was made to be scary. However, the thing about this series is that it takes its horror to an entirely different level while delivering you a scary show that is unlike any other you have seen before.

In a way, Archive 81 is smarter than the usual ghoul-fest that you see in your common horror shows because it takes horror to a psychological level that is certainly made to keep your head guessing while keeping your eyes glued to this addictive show.


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The series follows the story of Dan Turner, a film restoration expert who works for a New York museum. Turner is given a freelance opportunity by billionaire Virgil Davenport, who gives him $100,000 so that he can restore a collection of damaged videos that were found in a deadly apartment building fire in New York during the 90s.

Because the tapes are found in an upstate facility that Davenport owns and cannot be moved, Dan was forced to move there and live and work on the premises in what looks like a creepy 80s compound that is disconnected from the rest of the world because it doesn’t have an internet connection and is filled with a lot of locked doors that are as mysterious as the grey-scale color scheme of the compound. On top of that, Dan has a history of mental issues due to being a reclusive and depressed young man.

Dan was restoring footage that was shot by grad student Melody Pendras during the 90s. The footage was part of an oral history project she was making about a historical apartment complex in New York called the Visser. She carries her camcorder wherever she goes as she learns more about the apartment building, which includes a dangerous cult that Dan gets intrigued about. And Melody is also trying to find out more about her deadbeat mother, who used to live in the apartment building.

The mystery part of the story lies in the fact that the bodies of those living in the apartment building were never found during the fire. Coincidentally, Dan’s family was also killed in a series of house fires right around the same time as the fire that burned down the Visser. And as Dan was editing the tapes, he began to experience weird things in the footage. This is where the psychological aspect of the series begins.

As Dan is looking at the tapes, we are given two different timelines. The first revolves around the present time wherein Dan is restoring the tapes while looking at the footage shot by Melody during the 90s. Meanwhile, the second timeline follows Melody’s story as she was shooting with her camcorder in the Visser.

In Melody’s timeline, hell seems to break loose because of the creepy and mysterious residents living in the Visser. Meanwhile, Dan is trying to make sense of the things that he sees in the tapes, as he and his best friend Mark are looking to investigate further into the history of the apartment. Uncovering the different aspects of the stories behind the footage unlocks the pathway for ghosts, demons, and other similar supernatural entities to make their way to the story.

Due to the pressure of the job, which has become personal to Dan because he found out that his father and Melody were acquainted in the 90s, he begins to hallucinate about the different things he was seeing in the footage. This includes having conversations with Melody in real life and even seeing different things, such as a woman that outright tells him through his screen to leave things as they should be.

So, in a way, the horror aspect of Archive 81 can be seen in how you are placed in Dan’s shoes and perspective as the person who is getting too close and deep into the mysteries surrounding the tapes he was tasked to restore. You begin to question Dan’s sanity as he sees different things about the tape and uncovers different events that were related to the fire that destroyed the Visser in the 90s.

It promises to be an entirely different horror experience that goes beyond the normal ghoul-ridden horror movies that you often see on Netflix or in the movie theater. This is why Archive 81 has its own level in terms of how scary it is. It scares you in a psychological way and not in a way that will keep shocking you with scary scenes in between dull moments.

Is Archive 81 Gory?

Is Archive 81 Scary? (& Does It Have Jumpscares)

Another aspect that makes Archive 81 so unique as a horror show is that it lacks the usual gore that you see in a lot of different horror movies. Gore has always been a common element among different horror movies and shows because of how death and blood are almost always related to supernatural entities or the occult.

However, there is almost no gore in Archive 81 because it doesn’t rely on the messier aspect of horror to deliver its own brand of horror. Instead, a lot of the things that you will notice about Archive 81 relies on the amazing way it was able to deliver a slow-burn psychological thriller that will keep you glued on your seat due to its amazing storytelling.


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So, instead of using scary scenes with ghosts, ghouls, blood, and death, the devil is all in the details when it comes to Archive 81. You have to look at the details and understand them to see the element of horror that makes this series scary but not the same kind of scary that you often see when people talk about horror movies and shows that are on the same page as films Insidious or Annabelle. 

Does Archive 81 Have Jumpscares?

One of the most unique aspects of Archive 81 is that it still makes use of jumpscares to deliver a heart-pounding experience. Jumpscares have become a common way of scaring people in movies like Insidious. Meanwhile, The Haunting of Hill House also has its own brand of jumpscares.

In a way, Archive 81 also has jumpscares. But the way that the series delivers jumpscares is not like the one that is common in most horror films that almost entirely rely on jumpscares to get people screaming during the times when they least expect something scary to happen or pop out of the screen.

Instead, Archive 81’s jumpscares happen in the flow of the story, such as when you are treated to something supernatural or weird happening on the screen of the tapes that Dan is trying to restore. These are not jumpscares that were only placed there so that the show will seem scarier than it actually is.

But while Archive 81 does have its own fair share of jumpscares, the best part is that these jumpscares are not what makes the movie scary. Even if you remove the jumpscares, the slow-burn psychological horror aspect of the series remains the same, as Archive 81 promises to be a show that is unlike any other horror story you have encountered in your life.

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