The Watcher: true story of New Jersey house 657 Boulevard, Ryan Murphy Netflix show release date - and trailer

The new stalker series from Dahmer creator Ryan Murphy is based on the story of New Jersey house, 657 Boulevard

Over on Netflix, exploitative serial-killer series Dahmer is still making a killing in terms of streaming figures, with viewers turning in in their masses to catch the almost pornographic dramatisation of Jeffrey Dahmer’s horrific murder spree.

Despite middling reviews, it’s racking up millions of views, and so Netflix execs will be rubbing their hands with glee at the thought that they have another show up their sleeve from Dahmer’s co-creator.

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Ryan Murphy - who also created Pose and American Horror Story - will be bringing subscribers The Watcher in the next few weeks, another series that’s bound to get the pulses of those anxious to walk home alone at night racing.

Here is everything you need to know about it.

What is The Watcher?

Long gone are the days when long-awaited films or series were based on best-selling novels. Now, streaming services find ample inspiration in sensationalist magazine articles, and The Watcher is no different.

Based on the New York Magazine article of the same name, the limited series tells the real-life story of a married couple who, after moving into their dream New Jersey home, are harassed through letters signed by a stalker calling himself, ‘The Watcher’.

The rights to the magazine article were reportedly snapped up by Netflix for a hefty seven-figure sum, and came in a package that included “the rights of the beleaguered homeowners who’ve lived this nightmare for four years”, according to Deadline.

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Is it a true story?

Mia Farrow and Terry Kinney in The Watcher (Photo: Netflix)Mia Farrow and Terry Kinney in The Watcher (Photo: Netflix)
Mia Farrow and Terry Kinney in The Watcher (Photo: Netflix) | ERIC LIEBOWITZ/NETFLIX

The article begins in June 2014, when Derek and Maria Broaddus were preparing to relocate their three children into 657 Boulevard, the million-dollar dream home they had purchased in the affluent Westfield area.

But Derek discovered an unusual welcome note addressed to the new occupants in the mailbox - the anonymous writer described his long relationship with the residence, and revealed disturbingly intimate details about the family as the letter progressed.

“How did you end up here?” the writer asked. “Did 657 Boulevard call to you with its force within?”

The anonymous author of the letter said 657 Boulevard had been the subject of their family for decades, “and as it approaches its 110th birthday, I have been put in charge of watching and waiting for its second coming.”

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Asking the family if there were more children “on the way” than the three they had already counted, the stalker asked, “Do you need to fill the house with the young blood I requested?

“Was it greed to bring me your children? Once I know their names I will call to them and draw them too [sic] me.”

The new homeowners contacted the police, but numerous further letters followed, with the letter writer began using the word "blood” more and more frequently.

Neighbours soon became potential suspects, but those neighbours returned with suspicions of their own, wondering if the homeowners themselves were orchestrating an elaborate stalker plot for nefarious means.

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The Broadduses’ children never moved into the home over safety fears; the family attempted to sell the property on, and even submitted plans to demolish the structure entirely and build two new residences.

But the land fell a few feet short of zoning restrictions, and local authorities, fuelled by the collective rage of the Broadduses’ neighbours, refused to give approval to the project.

Who stars in it?

Naomi Watts (Mulholland Drive, King Kong) and Bobby Cannavale (Ant-Man, Mr. Robot) are the leads in The Watcher, playing couple Nora and Dean Brannock.

Also on the cast are Mia Farrow (Rosemary’s Baby) as Pearl, Terry Kinney (Billions) as Jasper, and Jennifer Coolidge (The White Lotus) as Karen Calhoun.

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Joining them are Michael Nouri (Yellowstone), Isabel Gravitt (Little Fires Everywhere), Henry Hunter Hall (Hunters), and Luke David Blumm (The King of Staten Island).

When can I watch it?

All seven episodes of The Watcher will premiere on Netflix on Thursday 13 October.

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