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“The Watcher” Review: Netflix’s new true-crime hit series overtakes Monster – Dahmer

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Review and True Story Behind “The Watcher”, Starring Naomi Watts and Bobby Cannavale, the threatening letters in the new Netflix hit series give the audience goosebumps. (Spoilers)

The Watcher Netflix
Credits: Netflix

Another series by the creators of Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story; Ryan Murphy, and Ian Brennan are back with another truth-based suspenseful story of a creepy stalker — The Watcher — sending threatening and disturbing letters to families living in the house in Westfield on 657 Boulevard.

The Watcher Netflix
House In Westfield On 657 Boulevard

The History of 657 Boulevard

The 657 Boulevard House in Westfield, New Jersey Town suburb, was constructed in 1905. The 3,869 square foot shingle-style home features four bathrooms, six bedrooms, and Dutch Colonial details. Bought in June by Derek and Maria Broaddus for about $1.3 million, assuming they bought their dream house turned into a nightmare in just three days.

The Trailer

The Review and Summary (Spoilers)

The highly fictionalized 7-episode series starts with The Brannock family looking forward to finding their dream house in the suburbs of Westfield. When they visited the house on 657 Boulevard, the family fell in love and did everything they could to get it ignoring the fact that they cannot afford it.

Dean Brannock played by Bobby Cannavale is shown as someone who went to extreme lengths to get the house, putting all their money and savings at stake. Which later turned out to be a horrible decision shortly after

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Soon after they move in, Carter’s (Dean’s son) pet was killed. The next morning the family received a letter from someone calling themselves “The Watcher”.

The Watcher
Credits: Netflix

The movie constantly hints at the neighbors for being up to something made me think that they are the ones who want to preserve the house as they are obsessed with it. The neighbors are shown to be a part of the “Preservation Club”. The creators have done a great job of putting this perspective in my head by showing several break-ins, threats, and close to the end of the series “the tunnel”. A tunnel? For what? What did they do with it? One neighbor’s obsession with the Dumbwaiter and the other fake their death. What is going on?! I still have so many questions.

Another obsessive character was the real estate agent Karen who constantly asks Nora to sell the house. Made me wonder if she wants it for herself or if she is behind it all (which she eventually gets in the end but did not turn out to be a single-girl fantasy)

The couple is all over the place. However, the police DNA report in the show suggested The Watcher could be a woman (strange)

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While the renovation is in process, a very strange John “an imposter, site inspector” appeared to make a sandwich in the kitchen where he shared details about Dean’s daughter having an affair with the security installation guy (far from the truth)

The Watcher Netflix
Credits: Netflix

Later Dean hired a private investigator to find out about the history and strange occurrences. Battling cancer, Theodora shows her keen interest in solving the mystery and disclosed that there was a man indeed a man named John Graff who lived in the house.

John Graff was also receiving the disturbing letter that drove him crazy into killing his entire family and disappearing. This planted the idea in Dean’s head that he met the real John Graff who has been haunting them. This character has no relevance to the true incident, just an attempt by Ryan Murphy to add another ghostly touch.

The family, especially Dean is under a lot of stress so he moves his family to a motel but The Watcher is still watching. While the family is terrified, they are also shown falling apart. An underage girl was in Dean’s room while his family is away and was caught on camera. Dean’s daughter accused her dad of being a racist which resulted in him losing his opportunity of making a partner. At this point, the true crime story turned into an American Horror Story Season 1 Murder House.

Dean’s failed attempt to convince his family to move out by writing a letter pretending to be the stalker to recover from the financial damage.

The Watcher Netflix
Credits: Netflix

One of the interesting parts of the story was the local teacher, Roger who used to give an assignment to his students to write an anonymous letter about a house they like the most. That part certainly made me go HAH! we got him but later he turned out to be just a man who is obsessed with architecture. Leaving me even more confused.

A lot was happening way too fast for us to keep up but the show did not lose my attention because I was just simply confused. I was on my toes throughout. The constant guessing, and the back and forth were mostly frustrating and exciting at some points.

The part taken from the true event was because the story went viral the couple’s struggle to sell the house made me feel bad for them. Nobody wants to buy the house but eventually, they did get rid of it. Dean lost his mind and became obsessed with the house and solving the mystery, going to therapy so he can recover from the trauma, which makes a lot of sense as he is the one who went through the horror the most.

Seeing Dean’s condition, investigator Theodora came to rescue and before dying offered Dean some peace by claiming she was The Watcher which was later turned out to a lie. (That was a kind gesture, I am rooting for you Theodora RIP) but again! it is faaaarrrr from the truth.

The show concluded by showing the neighbors are still obsessed, but the twist was that Dean and Nora Brannock are now also obsessed and stalking the house. Giving the impression that the house draws people’s attention and they seem to cannot recover from it. But the parting message from the creators was “The case remains unsolved”. Then why did we need a made-up and failed-to-make-sense series?

Not only the creators messed and twisted my head but also left me with no answers, just guesses. The case was never solved. No leads, No evidence against anyone, and No clue if it was a man or a woman. Only the name “The Watcher” haunts memories of those who have lived in the house, who have heard the story, and NOW the ones who have watched it.

But did we need an exaggerated claim to be a real story series? It was unnecessary. If it did not claim to be a series based on a true crime, the review would not be this harsh. But if I am really curious about the true story then I would rather read the accurate story online. However, if you would like your mind being twisted for 7 hours then it is right up your alley.

Unforgettable true story, forgettable miniseries. Angie Han Hollywood Reporter

Where to Watch and Release Date

“The Watcher” is exclusive to the streaming platform Netflix and premiered on Thursday, October 13, 2022.

The Watcher Netflix Episodes

  1. Welcome, Friends
    Soon after the Barannock family moves into their dream home, they receive a threatening letter from a mysterious sender and suffer an unexpected loss.
  1. Blood Sacrifice
    After hiring a private detective, Dean speaks with a former homeowner who is still shaken by what he endured; Nora and the kids move into a motel.
  1. Götterdämmerung
    The pool of suspects shrinks in the wake of a neighborhood tragedy; Karen offers Nora a way out; a strange visitor tells Dean about the Fourth Turning.
  1. Someone to Watch Over Me
    As Dean digs deeper into the house’s history, Theodora discovers Dakota’s disturbing screen name; Ellie’s secret relationship comes to light.
  1. Occam’s Razor
    Nora thinks Dean wrote the letters to scare her into selling, but a DNA test yields surprising results; contractors uncover something in the basement.
  1. The Gloaming
    Dean and Nora find a hidden room where someone’s been living; Theodora shares intriguing information about Roger Kaplan; the family makes a fateful decision.
  1. The Haunting
    Nora urges Dean to move on, but the past continues to haunt him; a shocking confession doesn’t add up; eyes continue to watch the house.

Is The Watcher a true story?

Yes, it is. The real-life couple Derek and Maria Broaddus served as the inspiration for the Brannocks in The Watcher.

Who lives on 657 Boulevard now?

Even though every buyer was terrified of the letters, The Broaddus family listed the house for $999k in March 2019, five years after paying $1.4 million for it. The new owner wishes to remain anonymous.

The Watcher Netflix
Credits: Netflix

Were the neighbors as creepy as depicted in the series?

Mia Farrow’s Pearl and Terry Kinney’s Jasper are most likely vague translations of the Langford family, who lived along 657 Boulevard and had been there since the 1960s. “They were a bit odd” according to the Broaddus.

Who were Mitch and Mo?

Mitch and Mo (Richard Kind and Margo Martindale) were a creepy couple who sat on their chairs staring at the house as confirmed by Bill Woodward, the Broadduses’ house painters but they did not fake their death and certainly did not drink babies’ blood.

Was there a Dumbwaiter?

There was no mention of the dumbwaiter in the original house (a nice spooky touch I must say).

The Watcher Netflix
Credits: Netflix

Was Pearl’s Westfield Preservation Society real?

No, there was or is a Preservation Society. The creator added the fictional part to play with our minds a little more.

The Watcher Netflix

Was John Graff a real person?

Yes, John Graff’s character is taken from the gruesome murders of 1971.

However the real John Graff, Robert Clark was also a catholic accountant who drained money out of his mother’s bank account and then killed his family in the same manner. Clark eventually succeeded in creating a new life for himself in the suburbs of Virginia. He was caught in 1989, found guilty, and given five life sentences for his crimes. He passed away in 2008 as a result of pneumonia-related complications.

Was The Watcher ever caught in real life?

Sadly, no. The Watcher was never caught and might still be somewhere watching. It’s still not found who was behind the letters.

The Watcher Netflix
Credits: Netflix

Letters from The Watcher

Letter 1

“Dearest new neighbor at 657 Boulevard,

Allow me to welcome you to the neighborhood.”

“Do you know what lies within the walls of 657 Boulevard?” and asking “Why are you here?”

“657 Boulevard has been the subject of my family for decades now and as it approaches its 110th birthday, I have been put in charge of watching and waiting for its second coming.

“My grandfather watched the house in the 1920s and my father watched in the 1960s. It is now my time. Do you know the history of the house? Do you know what lies within the walls of 657 Boulevard? Why are you here? I will find out.”

“Do you need to fill the house with the young blood I requested? Better for me. Was your old house too small for the growing family? Or was it greed to bring me your children? Once I know their names I will call to them and draw them too [sic] me”,

“There are hundreds and hundreds of cars that drive by 657 Boulevard each day. Maybe I am in one. Look at all the windows you can see from 657 Boulevard. Maybe I am in one. Look out at any of the many windows in 657 Boulevard at all the people who stroll by each day. Maybe I am one.

“Welcome my friends, welcome. Let the party begin.”

Letter 2

Welcome again to your new home at 657 Boulevard.

“The workers have been busy and I have been watching you unload carfuls of your personal belongings. The dumpster is a nice touch. Have they found what is in the walls yet? In time they will.” If you were upstairs, you would never hear them scream.”

“657 Boulevard is anxious for you to move in. It has been years and years since the young blood ruled the hallways of the house. Have you found all of the secrets it holds yet? Will the young blood play in the basement? Or are they too afraid to go down there alone?

“I would [be] very afraid if I were them. It is far away from the rest of the house. If you were upstairs you would never hear them scream”.

“Will they sleep in the attic? Or will you all sleep on the second floor? Who has the bedrooms facing the street? I’ll know as soon as you move in. It will help me to know who is in which bedroom. Then I can plan better.

“All of the windows and doors in 657 Boulevard allow me to watch you and track you as you move through the house. Who am I? I am The Watcher and have been in control of 657 Boulevard for the better part of two decades now. The Woods family turned it over to you. It was their time to move on and kindly sold it when I asked them to.

“I pass by many times a day. 657 Boulevard is my job, my life, my obsession. And now you are too Broaddus family. Welcome to the product of your greed! Greed is what brought the past three families to 657 Boulevard and now it has brought you to me.

“Have a happy moving-in day. You know I will be watching.”

Letter 3

“Where have you gone to?

“657 Boulevard is missing you.”

Letter 4

“657 Boulevard withstood your assault and held firm with an army of supporters barricading its gates… My Boulevard soldiers carried out my orders exactly. Thanks to my orders, they completed their mission as well as saved the soul of 657 Boulevard. The Watcher will live forever!!!

Perhaps a car accident. Perhaps a fire. Perhaps it’s as simple as a minor illness that never seems to go away but keeps you sick day after day after day after day. Perhaps the unsolved death of a pet. Loved ones pass away unexpectedly. Planes, automobiles, and bicycles collide. Bones are crumbling. The house despises you… and The Watcher has triumphed.

Reviews and Ratings

Rotten Tomatoes
IMDb
Metacritic

Our Score

The watcher is a 'pure camp' that will entertain you for an hour or so, it's trying hard to be a bit intense and dramatic, but it can be enjoyable if you don't take it too seriously.

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