Mia Farrow as Pearl Winslow and Terry Kinney as Jasper Winslow in The Watcher. (Photo: Eric Liebowitz/Netflix)
WHERE TO WATCH:
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
A family moves into their dream home, only to be plagued by ominous letters, strange neighbours and sinister threats.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
Ryan Murphy has been delivering new Netflix shows faster than viewers can keep up. While his controversial Dahmer series is still hanging around at the top of Netflix’s most-watched list, his latest project has made its debut.
There’s been a lot of buzz around The Watcher, based on a true story published in New York Magazine in 2018. The piece titled The Haunting of a Dream House by Reeves Wiedeman tells the real-life story of Maria and Derek Broaddus, who was forced to sell the new mansion they bought after receiving numerous threats from an individual who called themselves The Watcher.
Murphy is no stranger to stories about haunted old mansions and spooky mysteries, so it makes sense that he’d be heading the seven-part series. Known for his love of gore, the grisly, and the disturbing, The Watcher is easily one of Murphy’s least bloody thrillers to watch.
In the lead are stars Naomi Watts as Nora Brannock and Bobby Cannavale as Dean Brannock. The couple goes from entirely in love with their dream house to living out their worst nightmare as things quickly go from bad to worse. But the duo is reluctant to give in to whoever it is that’s terrorising them and do everything they can to fight back, but how do you fight an anonymous and mysterious stranger?
The show gets off to a great start, like any haunted mansion story, as the happy family settle into the new neighbourhood. An immediate standout is Jennifer Coolidge’s nosey estate agent, Karen Calhoun. Coolidge is a TV darling, and every role she takes on is fantastic to watch. When the show starts to lose some of its energy, it’s Coolidge’s Karen that gives it a much-needed boost.
The show quickly turns into a whodunnit, and every character at one stage seems to fit the profile of The Watcher. But this kind of finger-pointing and accusing everyone of the crimes gets very old quickly and turns into pure frustration half-way through. The introduction of the fantastic Noma Dumezweni as private detective Theodora Birch offers a much-needed fresh perspective to the storyline that sadly goes nowhere slowly.
By the end, I was close to giving up but pushed through with determination, only to be utterly disappointed. This is not Murphy at his best, and indeed not the journey I thought I’d go on when I started watching. The Watcher might have a great cast, and it’s certainly well-made, but the show is barely worth keeping an eye on.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE: