The Watcher is a Netflix original series because it is the kind of stuff that would have been a network TV movie of the week in the 1970s or 1980s. After the popularity of Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, one of television’s most prolific creators, Ryan Murphy, brings his fans another another spooky season surprise before the premiere of American Horror Story: NYC the following week. Murphy and his group no longer possess the humor and zany enthusiasm they once did. Comparing it to American Horror Story: Murder House, Murphy’s enormous franchise opener Given that it is once again about a typical family moving into a cursed home, this should feel like a sequel to that first season (although no rubber men in this one). But this endeavor falls so far short in contrast because it fails to recognize the risk inherent in its subject. The film is an exercise in overwriting rather than anything that ever seems to aim for the spooky, unnerving instability that used to characterize Murphy’s best ventures, despite occasional flashes of escapist comedy.
Instead of the actual Broaddus family of three, Nora (Naomi Watts) and Dean Brannock (Bobby Cannavale) move into 657 Boulevard with two children. However, this is just the first of dozens of modifications made to the real-life events. (Just a note that very little of this actually occurred.) The Watcher just keeps growing, adding more rooms to this TV drama in a way that’s haphazard and frequently unneeded. Normally, I have no issue with creators exploiting a factual story to create something artistically intriguing.
Theodora Birch, a private eye trapped between a serious mystery and camp, is played unconvincingly by Noma Dumezweni, and she provides almost all of those developments through a clumsy exposition dump. She aids the Brannock family in navigating prospective Watcher Suspects. Are the nosy neighbors Margo Martindale and Richard Kind sending the notes? What about Terry Kinney’s scary neighbor and Mia Farrow’s conservative mother? Jennifer Coolidge’s character Karen, their realtor, might be involved. What do you think of Dakota, the new security guard (Henry Hunter Hall)? What if Dean is sending the letters himself in order to back out of a deal that he can’t afford?