Netflix viewers have been left fuming at the ‘disappointing’ ending of the streaming giant’s new horror series The Watcher, despite being gripped by the real-life plot.
The gripping seven-episode series from Ryan Murphy is based on the real-life story of a couple who were harassed out of their dream home by a creepy stalker – whose identity remains a mystery to this day.
It stars Naomi Watts, 52, and Bobby Cannavale, 51, as married couple Dean and Nora Brannock who move into their dream home in the New Jersey suburbs only to find themselves targeted by a stalker. Also starring is Jennifer Coolidge, 61, as the realtor who sells them the property and Mia Farrow as one of their creepy neighbors.
After they move from New York City to 657 Boulevard in Westfield, New Jersey, the couple are sent a series of cryptic and increasingly threatening letters from an anonymous person, signed off with The Watcher, who wants to force them out of their house.
The letters become increasingly chilling and the family spirals as they try to discover who’s behind the threats. Everyone becomes a suspect – their unusual neighbors, their realtor, the town police chief, and the husband and wife homeowners even start to turn on and suspect each other.
Unresolved mystery: Dean and Nora Brannock (played by Naomi Watts and Bobby Cannavale, pictured in a scene from The Watcher) buy their dream home in a quiet New Jersey suburb only to find their hopes of a new life become a living nightmare
Real life: Derek and Maria Broaddus (pictured here with their children) bought 657 Boulevard in Westfield, New Jersey for $1.4million in 2014. Between June that year and February 2017, they received four sinister letters signed by The Watcher that left them fearing for their safety and eventually forced them out of what had been their dream home
The Watcher, a fictionalized retelling of the Broaddus family’s real-life nightmare, has garnered praise for the gripping storyline but viewers were mostly disappointed with its true-to-life ending. Pictured above Bobby Cannavale as homeowner Dean Brannock who marches from his house with a letter from The Watcher in-hand to confront neighbors he thinks could be behind the chilling notes making his family’s life a misery
The Brannock family receive a letter from The Watcher in the photograph above from the new Netflix show featuring Naomi Watts and Bobby Cannavale
The Netflix version of 657 Boulevard in Westfield, New Jersey where the Brannocks are left on edge by the letters, leaving them suspicious of their neighbors, their realtor, the police chief and each other
The real-life Watcher home: The real 657 Boulevard in Westfield, New Jersey (pictured) where the Broaddus family were harassed by an anonymous stalker who sent them chilling letters signed ‘The Watcher’
Uneven: According to Metacritic, The Watcher has received mainly mixed reviews and currently holds a score of 52 out of 10
It seems they have finally brought the horrifying chapter to a close when their terminally ill private detective Theodora (played by Noma Dumezweni) confesses to being The Watcher.
Theodora claims she’s a previous occupant of the house who wanted to get them to move out so she could move back in. But in a further twist, it’s revealed that she lied and just wanted to give the terrorized family closure before she died.
The couple are left with no other option but to move out, leaving the mystery of The Watcher’s identity unresolved – as it remains in real life.
Fans rushed to social media to complain about the lack of resolution at the end of the series, with many branding it ‘pointless’ – but others praised the show for remaining faithful to how it really ended when Derek and Maria Broaddus and their children were forced out of their $1.4million home after four letters from The Watcher left them ‘depressed wrecks’ and on edge.
It was such a haunting tale that their story was at the center of a bidding war between six studios in late 2018 – and while viewers were gripped by the series, they are furious at its unresolved ending. Tweets range from ‘awesome plot, horrendous ending’ to ‘worst ending… utterly horrible’ but others said the true-to-life ending is ‘haunting’ and ‘special’.
Mixed reviews: Viewers were gripped by The Watcher plot – but many found the ending ‘an absolute waste of time’, while others thought it made the story ‘haunting’ and ‘special’
‘Just binged The Watcher on Netflix.. awesome plot, horrendous ending,’ wrote one infuriated fan.
Another said: ‘The ending of the watcher might be hands down the worst ending to any piece of cinema I’ve ever had to see. All the directions they could’ve went and THAT is how they end it? Utterly horrible.’
‘If you’re going to start The Watcher on Netflix, don’t. Officially the worst ending I’ve ever seen,’ a third added.
One penned: ‘I’ve never watched something I’ve been so invested in and get severely annoyed with. Ryan Murphy’s The Watcher. WHO WAS IT? We learnt absolutely nothing. I want to know more! What was that ending??’
‘Just finished The Watcher. I know it’s based on a true story but that ending made the whole series an absolute waste of time,’ one user said.
While other fans felt the ending was satisfying enough as it mimicked the true story: ‘Just finished The Watcher… lots of thoughts atm. Really liked the show and its structure, the ending will have people divided but I for one liked where it went…
‘I am not p***ed at #TheWatcher’s ending as everybody else are. In fact, I think there is something haunting about that ending and that makes it special.’
Same fans were livid by the series’ ending – other fans felt it was satisfying enough because it mimicked the true story: ‘Just finished The Watcher… lots of thoughts atm.’
‘Officially the worst ending I’ve ever seen’: Netflix viewers were left fuming at the ‘disappointing’ ending of new horror series The Watcher which stars Mia Farrow and Terry Kinney (pictured) as creepy neighbors Pearl and Jasper Winslow
Storyline: The Watcher follows a family that moves into a new house and is subsequently terrorized by a stalker; Naomi and Bobby seen with Jennifer Coolidge
The series features Jennifer Coolidge as the realtor who sold the couple their home (pictured here in a promo video for the show, in which she showcases the house)
10 CREEPY QUOTES FROM THE WESTFIELD WATCHER
1. ‘Who I am? I am the Watcher.’
2. ‘My grandfather watched the house in the 1920s and my father watched in the 1960s. It is now my time. I have been put in charge of watching and waiting for its second coming.’
3. ‘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.’
4. ‘Do you need to fill the house with the young blood I requested? Once I know their names I will call to them and draw them to me. I asked the (prior owners) to bring me young blood.’
5. ‘Have they found what is in the walls yet? In time they will. I am pleased to know your names and the names now of the young blood you have brought to me.’
6. ‘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.’
7. ‘Allow me to watch you and track you as you move through the house.’
8. ‘And now I watch and wait for the day when they (sp) young blood will be mine again.’
9. ‘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?’
10. ‘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.’
When the Broaddus family bought 657 Boulevard for $1.4million in 2014, they thought they were embarking on an exciting new chapter in their lives. But between June that year and February 2017, they received four letters signed The Watcher.
The letters kept the family on edge.
In an interview with New York Magazine’s The Cut, Derek said he was a ‘depressed wreck’. His wife Maria said the letters left her fearing for her children’s safety and plagued by terrifying nightmares including one where a man was ‘wearing boots and carrying a pitchfork and calling to the kids.’
Police were unable to identify the stalker despite an extensive investigation but suspected the letters came from someone who was within a 300-yard radius of the house.
The author of the letters claimed to have been ‘watching the house for decades’. One of the notes stated: ‘I am The Watcher. Bring me your young blood.’
According to the letters, observance over the house had been passed down through the family.
One stated: ‘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.’
Maria Broaddus’s fears around how The Watcher may hurt her children were justified. They were mentioned in one of the letters, which said: ‘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.’
Despite an investigation, police were never able to find the family’s stalker but they suspect that the letters came from someone who was within a 300-yard radius of the house (pictured)
However, some people believe it may have been the couple themselves sending the letters. The Broadduses have always denied this.
Derek said: ‘There’s a natural tendency to say, “I’ve lived here for 35 years; nothing’s happened to me”.
‘What happened to my family is an affront to their contention that they’re safe, that there’s no such thing as mental illness in their community. People don’t want to believe this could happen in Westfield.’
In June 2015, the Broadduses sued the prior owners of the house, claiming that they also received a letter from The Watcher but never disclosed it.
The Woods said they had only received one note, that was unthreatening. The suit was dismissed.
The Broadduses (Derek Broaddus is pictured right) sued the prior owners, John Woods (left) and his wife Andrea, in 2015 claiming they also received a letter from ‘The Watcher’ but never disclosed it. The Woods said they had only received one note, that was unthreatening. The suit was dismissed.
Because of the letters, the Broaddus family put the mansion back on the market, and it eventually sold again in 2019 for $959,000.
Their story was at the center of a bidding war between six studios in late 2018, before Netflix acquired the rights and decided to make a miniseries instead of a film.