Inspired by a chilling true story, Netflix’s new horror series The Watcher starring Jennifer Coolidge and Naomi Watts follows a family whose dream home turned into a nightmare.
Now that autumn is just around the corner and a seasonal chill is in the air, we’re feeling suitably excited for all the brilliant new horror releases coming our way for Halloween. On the horizon, we’ve got Guillermo del Toro’s chilling new Netflix anthology series Cabinet Of Curiosities, and the spooky adaptation of Christopher Pike’s book series The Midnight Club, which follows eight terminally ill teenagers who make a chilling pact to communicate from beyond the grave.
But aside from splatters of blood and heart-stopping jump scares, there’s a lot to be said for the kind of horrors that call upon quietly unnerving stories to unsettle the viewer. Very soon, we’ll be able to tuck into Anya Taylor Joy’s darkly comic thriller The Menu that follows twelve wealthy guests on a sinister culinary experience; but before long, we’ll also have another deeply unsettling series in the form of Netflix’s The Watcher.
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Based on a 2018 article from The Cut, the new series from Ryan Murphy follows a married couple, Dean and Nora Brannock, (Bobby Cannavale and Naomi Watts), whose dream home turns into a complete nightmare. After they move in, they become subject to a campaign of harassment from a stalker who calls themselves “The Watcher.”
In the first preview for the series, titled 657 Boulevard Open House Video Tour With Karen Calhoun, we’re introduced to real estate agent Karen Calhoun from Darren Dunn Realty, played by the beloved Jennifer Coolidge. At first, Coolidge’s demeanour and dialogue reads like a tongue-in-cheek parody of Selling Sunset. “This house is four bedrooms and five baths, they threw in an extra bathroom just for fun,” she remarks mischievously. But as the trailer draws on, detailing hilarious yet creepy details of the mansion, we get the sense that there are plenty of eyes watching the home owners.
What gives this series the edge, though, is that it’s based on the real life story of a New Jersey family who moved into 657 Boulevard in Westfield in 2014. While the family thought they were going to live in their dream home, their neighbours began pestering them and to make things worse, they got harassed by an unknown sender. This person called themselves The Watcher and wrote them letters claiming to be “watching the couple’s every move”.
Some letters approved of the couple’s choices while others stated “the house won’t be happy with this decision”, and none of them arrived with a return address. The couple was forced to abandon the house because of the mishaps and attempted to put it back on the market. While the mansion didn’t sell, they finally rented it out in 2017 and the renter once again began receiving letters from The Watcher, which is where the upcoming show gets its name from. Till today, the identity of the sender remains a mystery.
Coolidge, who has built a cult following over the years for her barbed humour and recently picked up her first Emmy award for her turn in The White Lotus, takes the viewer through every room and feature in the house that was originally built in 1921. Yet every once in a while, a sinister remark catches the viewers’ attention drawing away from what seems like an earnest house tour. For instance, while referring to the kitchen’s dumbwaiter that the staff used to send food through the floors, Coolidge eerily says that a whole person could easily fit in there as well.
The show features a brilliant ensemble cast, too. Alongside Cannavale and Watts, the entire neighbourhood is sprinkled with acclaimed actors such as Richard King, Margo Martindale, Terry Kinney and Mia Farrow. According to Entertainment Weekly, the show sees the neighbours break into the seemingly haunted home to spy on the couple and, of course, hide in the dumbwaiter while doing so.
It’s no exaggeration to say that Netflix pulled out all the stops to promote the upcoming series – they even created a Zillow listing page for the $3.2 million house so viewers can see the family pad up close. While the streamer hasn’t revealed a release date yet, it’s likely that it’ll be part of Netflix’s Halloween lineup in October. One thing’s for sure: we’ll definitely be watching.
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