With fall just around the corner and a seasonal chill in the air, we’re suitably excited for all the brilliant new horror releases coming up this Halloween. On the horizon we have Guillermo del Toro’s chilling new Netflix anthology series cabinet of curiositiesand the creepy adaptation of the book series by Christopher Pike the midnight club, which follows eight terminally ill teenagers as they make a terrifying pact to communicate beyond the grave.
But blood splatters and heart-wrenching jump scares aside, there’s plenty to be said for the kind of scares that call for quiet, unnerving stories to unsettle the viewer. Very soon we can plunge into Anya Taylor Joy’s dark-comic thriller The menu this follows twelve wealthy guests on a sinister dining experience; but shortly we will also have another deeply disturbing series in the form of Netflix The Observer.
Based on a 2018 article The cut, the new series from Ryan Murphy, follows a married couple, Dean and Nora Brannock (Bobby Cannavale and Naomi Watts) whose dream home turns into an entire nightmare. After moving in, they become victims of a harassment campaign by a stalker who calls himself “The Watcher”.
In the first preview of the series entitled 657 Boulevard Open House Video Tour with Karen Calhoun, we are introduced to real estate agent Karen Calhoun from Darren Dunn Realty, played by beloved Jennifer Coolidge. At first, Coolidge’s behavior and dialogue read like a tongue-in-cheek parody Sell sunset. “This house has four bedrooms and five bathrooms, they added an extra bathroom just for fun,” she remarks mischievously. But as the trailer moves on, detailing hilarious but spooky details of the mansion, we have a feeling there are a lot of eyes watching the homeowners.
What makes this series special, however, is that it’s based on the real life story of a New Jersey family who moved to 657 Boulevard in Westfield in 2014. While the family thought they were living in their dream home, their neighbors started harassing them and to make matters worse, they were being harassed by an unknown sender. Calling himself The Watcher, this person would write them letters claiming to “watch the couple’s every move.”
Some letters endorsed the couple’s decisions, while others declared “the House will not be happy with this decision,” and none of them arrived with a return address. The couple had to leave the house due to the mishaps and tried to get it back on the market. Although the villa wasn’t sold, they eventually rented it out in 2017 and the tenant again received letters from The Watcher, which is where the upcoming show gets its name from. To this day, the identity of the sender remains a mystery.
Coolidge, who has built a cult following over the years for her edgy humor and recently received her first Emmy award for her performance The White Lotus, leads the viewer through all the rooms and special features of the house, which was originally built in 1921. But every once in a while, a sinister comment grabs the viewer’s attention and distracts from what appears to be a serious home tour. Coolidge, for example, refers to the dumbwaiter in the kitchen that staff used to send food through the floors, and eerily says that even a whole person would easily fit in there.
The show also features a brilliant ensemble cast. In addition to Cannavale and Watts, the entire neighborhood is dotted with acclaimed actors like Richard King, Margo Martindale, Terry Kinney and Mia Farrow. Corresponding Weekly entertainmentThe show sees the neighbors break into the seemingly haunted house to spy on the couple, naturally hiding in the dumbwaiter.
It’s no exaggeration to say that Netflix pulled out all the stops to promote the upcoming series — they even created a Zillow listing page for the $3.2 million home so viewers can get the family pad up close to be able to see. Although the streamer hasn’t announced a release date yet, it’s likely that he’ll be part of Netflix’s Halloween lineup in October. One thing is certain: we will definitely be watching.