The Watcher: the true story behind Ryan Murphy’s new Netflix horror, starring Naomi Watts, is the stuff of nightmares

The Watcher: the true story behind Ryan Murphy’s new Netflix horror, starring Naomi Watts, is the stuff of nightmares

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Netflix’s The Watcher may just be the creepiest true crime yet. Here’s everything we know about Ryan Murphy’s new horror so far.

Good true crime is supposed to chill us to our bones, we know, but Netflix’s latest offering may just be the most unsettling tale yet. And of course, horror king Ryan Murphy is behind it.

As Deadline reports, the limited series, which evokes the first season of Murphy’s hit American Horror Story, is inspired by the infamous “Watcher” house in New Jersey.

Oscar-nominee Naomi Watts and Bobby Cannavale (Nine Perfect Strangers) are set as the leads in The Watcher, which will see Murphy team up with his frequent collaborator Ian Brennan to tell the stalker story. Executive producing with Murphy and Brennan are Eric Newman (Narcos) and Bryan Unkeless, as well as Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (Catfish). 

The house, in Westfield, New Jersey
The house, in Westfield, New Jersey

What is the true story behind The Watcher?

IIn 2014, married couple Maria and Derek Broaddus bought the 1905 Dutch colonial revival-style house for nearly $1.4 million. However they were forced to abandon their new home over chilling letters from “The Watcher,” who claimed to have been “watching” the house for decades. “I am the Watcher. Bring me your young blood,” one of the notes read.

In 2018, they told the story to journalist Reeves Wiedeman, who published the skin-crawling encounter for The Cut, in a piece titled The Haunting of 657 Boulevard, Westfield, New Jersey

The article explains that within the first few weeks in their new property, the Broadduses received multiple handwritten and delivered letters. One of the first read “Welcome my friends, welcome. Let the party begin” – followed by a signature typed in a cursive font: “The Watcher.”

A later note revealed: “I pass by many times a day. 657 Boulevard is my job, my life, my obsession. And now you are too Braddus 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.”

American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy is behind the new series
American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy is behind the new series

After taking the letters to the police and being told there could be nothing done about the anonymous threats, the family put the house back on the market. It didn’t sell, and they rented it out. In 2017, the renters also received a sinister letter from The Watcher, threatening their life.

The house ultimately sold in 2019 for $959,000, but the identity of The Watcher remains a mystery to this day.

What are people saying about The Watcher?

In an interview with EW, Watts herself suggested that it was The Cut’s viral piece that piqued her interest in the project. “That article is so freaky. That’s what got me in,” she told them.

Providing an update on the production, she added: “I’m only just now getting into prep, we’re going to start shooting soon. It’s exciting, I can’t say much more.”

Naomi Watts will star in The Watcher.
Naomi Watts will star in The Watcher.

Where can I watch The Watcher?

With filming due to begin this autumn, we will keep you updated with any first-looks and release dates.

In the meantime, we’ll be getting in as many early nights as we can. We doubt we’ll be able to sleep much after watching it.

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Images: Getty/Gerald Slota

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