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Rebecca Sonnenshine Explains What Makes Archive 81 So Unique - Exclusive

When something horror-related hits, imitators show up in droves. In the 1970s for instance, for every "The Exorcist," there were multiple knock-offs like "Abby," "Beyond the Door" or even "Cathy's Curse." When "Gremlins" hit it big in the '80s, we got "Ghoulies," "Critters," and, of course, "Hobgoblins".

We're in a new decade now, so we don't know what the next horror trend will be, but we do know what some of the biggest horror stories have been so far. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the big horror movies seem to focus on being trapped somewhere (like your own house, for instance). Movies like "Host," "Relic," "Scare Me," and even "The Invisible Man" all deal with the claustrophobia of being trapped in one's own limited circumstances. We've seen a focus on classic giallo-style horror imagery with more mainstream horror like "Last Night in Soho" and "Malignant."

In the midst of all of that is Netflix's latest series "Archive 81" which does, as it happens, feature a man cooped up in a strange facility as he pours over old tapes from the '90s in the hopes of solving a mysterious apartment fire. While the series certainly taps into where horror seems to be at the moment, it's also very much its own beast.

Looper sat down with writer and Executive Producer Rebecca Sonnenshine to get a since of how she made "Archive 81" something both familiar and yet very different.

The power of the right camera for the job

While Rebecca Sonnenshine is influenced by shows like "X-Files" and "Fringe" and talked with us about nods to '70s horror like "Don't Look Now" and "Rosemary's Baby" she also brings a very specific set of skills that makes "Archive 81" unique.

"I was a very geeky film student at UCLA," Sonnenshine explained. "I made some experimental films. I was very interested in camera effects ... rolling the film backs and then double exposing. Stuff like that, it's super geeky stuff, which is something I did. We're living in a digital world now, but in the series, [we] definitely got a chance to play with a lot of formats that I used to use."

Despite that digital world, one of the coolest parts of "Archive 81" is that there are a lot of different ways the show was shot. "I did all sorts of weird things with that effect that took me to other formats, and we really got to use that stuff in the show," says Sonnenshine. "We really did shoot on high millimeter video ... we had a camera, we shot on it, we put it in the show. Some of it is post production, but a lot of it is not. It's actually that format, so it's super exciting to be honest. I used to shoot stuff on eight millimeter film, 16 millimeter film, high video, which is what Melody [Dina Shihabi] uses in the show. [We got to use] some other formats too, like the PXL 2000. It was all super exciting. It made me feel like a film student again."

The first season of "Archive 81" is now streaming on Netflix now.