House of horrors

Perfectly normal family moves into a new home that brings frustration and terror into their lives


Photo courtesy of IMDb

Actress Naomi Watts takes the cover of the new Netflix series, The Watcher

Leah Pickhinke, Staff Reporter

Moving into a new house is an exciting part of life; getting to organize all of your belongings so that your new home suits your style and comfort is surely a big part of the experience. But many don’t think meeting the neighbors can be a determining factor to moving into the house. The Brannock family struggles to feel safe in their new seemed to be perfect home after receiving written threats from one of their neighbors, but who?

Based on the true, unsolved story of a family being stalked by an anonymous person and driven out of their dream home, the new Netflix series “The Watcher” is a compulsive and intense show that has its viewers holding onto their seats. Released on Oct. 13, 2022, Ryan Murphy’s series has hit #1 on the top 10 Netflix shows today and is continuing to rise.

(Warning; spoilers ahead)

At the start of the first episode, the Brannock family is seen driving in their car to a house they 

had seen advertised online. Once arrived, the family is in awe with the beauty of the house, but soon encounters their neighbors Pearl (Mia Farrow) and Jasper Winslow (Terry Kinney) in the house. Jasper says something about the house’s dumbwaiter that creeps Dean (Bobby Cannavale) and his daughter Ellie (Isabel Gravitt) out, but they don’t think much of it. Pearl then tells them that Jasper is just naturally drawn to the dumbwaiter and that the old owners let him play in it.

After Nora (Naomi Watts) runs into the realtor downstairs, she realizes that it is an old friend, Karen Calhoun (Jennifer Coolidge). Dean follows Nora downstairs and tells the two that he has decided on buying the house. 

A problem occurs when Dean realizes that there is no way he could ever afford the house that they want, so he begins pulling money from all of his accounts including his retirement and IRA. Nora does not know about this as Dean has handed her the papers and told her where to sign without even looking at them. Dean promises Nora that everything will be okay once he makes partner with his company and there is nothing to worry about.

I was worried at this point because there is no way a family could do that and be able to live comfortably in their house that they had signed their life savings off to. I was also scared that Nora would get upset at Dean because if she found out about that it could ruin their relationship and they could lose the house.

What really began to worry me was the ominous notes they began to receive in the mail just three days after purchasing the house. I thought it was really strange and unexpected once they started coming more and more. 

The first note the family received started with “Dearest new neighbor at 657 Boulevard,

Allow me to welcome you to the neighborhood. 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.” 

As Dean and Nora sat together and read this at the dinner table they were confused and angry, both thinking it could be a prank that one of the strange neighbors had pulled on them. Dean goes outside to confront the neighbors when he sees the neighbors Mo (Margo Martindale) and Mitch (Richard Kind) on the Brannocks lawn harvesting arugula on their side of the fence. Dean gets very upset about this and tells Mo to harvest it on their own side, but Mo responds with a very looming remark back telling him that they aren’t going to be friendly anymore. 

Dean believes it to be conspicuous that the note written to them had to be from Mitch and Mo due to the unfriendly remark they made towards them. 

One night after dinner, Carter Brannock (Luke David) decides to go play around with the dumbwaiter. As he heads upstairs and opens the dumbwaiter. Jasper Winslow had popped out of it and said “boo” which frightened Carter. Dean and Nora run upstairs and see Jasper in their house and Carter on the floor. This infuriates Dean and he picks Jasper up by the collar and carries him out of the house before yelling at him. 

The family is confused how Jasper had gotten into the house as all the doors were locked, and they decide to purchase a heavy security system. But due to Jasper doing this to the family, Dean doesn’t know who to think the letters he was receiving were from.

But of course, once ordering a security system, it came with problems as well. Nineteen year old Dakota, (H. Hunter Hall) the security guy, begins talking to the Brannock family’s daughter Ellie. The family does not like this, as Ellie is barely 16 years old. They begin doing research about the guy and find out his video game name is “The Watcher”. This leads the family to accuse Dakota of being the watcher, but soon they find out that it is not him.

As the days passed, more notes started coming. And they began getting more and more threatening, trying to scare them out of their house. At this point the family is extremely confused about why the watcher would want them out of their house which provokes a lot of anger and frustration. Dean begins doing everything in his power to find out who The Watcher is, but it just isn’t that simple.

One of the letters read “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.’

Dean and the family go through a series of events throughout the show that create conflict and confusion in finding out who the watcher is, but they unfortunately never find out in the end.

I would say that this show is very nerve-racking and will have you binge watching it throughout the week. It is based on a true story so I thought it was interesting watching them take a real story and create a show out of it. Watching the show play out definitely got me questioning all of my initial thoughts and opinions about the characters because there were so many plot twists. I would give this show a 4/5.