Primetime Emmy winner Ryan Murphy has set his next spooky foray at Netflix, developing a a limited series for the streamer based on the internet urban legend of "The Watcher." Not to be confused with the Marvel character of the same name, this is a character that seemingly has only bad intentions on their mind. Deadline reports that Naomi Watts (Mulholland Dr., King Kong) and Bobby Cannavale (Boardwalk Empire, Ant-Man) set to star, playing the married couple that move into a new home and are quickly tormented by a stalker known only as The Watcher who sends threatening letters to their new residence. Frequent Murphy collaborator Ian Brennan will co-create the series with him.
The tale of “The Watcher” came to light in November of 2018 when an article by Reeves Wiedeman was published on The Cut, recounting the tale of the owners of the house in Westfield, New Jersey. A bidding war broke out in Hollywood a month later with a reported six different studios attempting to gain the rights, with Netflix ultimately winning out. Originally the streamer was developing the story, which they reportedly paid seven-figures for, as a feature film with Catfish and Paranormal Activity 3 directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman attached.
The Cut's story of "The Watcher" described the Westfield, New Jersey area as "Mayberry-like" town. The family that bought the town in 2014 almost immediately began receiving the threatening letters, all signed from “The Watcher." The very first was among the creepiest, reading:
"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."
The tale carried on for years with various letters arriving and the mystery of who was responsible only becoming more and more bizarre over the years. The Broaddus family didn't even finish moving into the home, instead opting to rent it out, eventually selling it off at a loss, seemingly ending the tale.
Netflix's The Watcher series marks the latest attempt to bring an internet urban legend to life on screen with Slenderman having previously attempted it and the Channel Zero TV series.
(Cover photo by: Getty Images/David Wall)