The house at 657 Boulevard has sidewalk charm. And in real estate, it’s about location, location, location. So when Dean and Nora Brannock have their sights set on the place, they quickly agree it’s their dream home in the suburbs. They must have it, but unfortunately they are not the only ones who want it.
Determined to get it, Dean (Bobby Cannavale) and Nora (Naomi Watts) have just bought their dream home in the idyllic suburb of Westfield, New Jersey. On the surface, it is a picturesque neighborhood with perfectly manicured lawns and tree-lined streets. In truth, it holds sinister secrets. Or is it all a hoax?
Dean and Nora invest all their savings to close the deal, but they soon realize their neighbors don’t want them there. They are surrounded by suspects who all seem to have the same intention: to convince them to sell the house. Their excitement quickly turns to regret when a stalker calling himself “The Watcher” starts leaving threatening letters in their mailbox.
This series is based on the shocking true story of the infamous “Watcher” house in New Jersey and Reeves Wiedeman’s article “The Haunting of a Dream House”, originally published in the November 12, 2018 issue of New York magazine.
This gripping seven-episode series comes from co-creators, writers and executive producers Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan, who recently ported Netflix
There are many colorful characters in the neighborhood. There’s an eccentric neighbor, Pearl (Mia Farrow), and as president of the local conservation company, she hates the concept of renovation. She lives with her strange brother, Jasper (Terry Kinney), who sneaks into the Brannocks’ house and hides in their freight elevator. There is also the nosy couple just across the street, Mitch (Richard Kind) and Mo (Margo Martindale), who seem not to understand the concept of boundaries and always have binoculars in hand.
Always bright and hilarious (and recently Emmy Award winner) Jennifer Coolidge plays Karen Calhoun, a real estate agent and Nora’s old acquaintance. Like everyone in the neighborhood, she has the part of her of secrets and motives. One secret she fails to keep is her desire to sell the house.
This thriller is excellent from start to finish, but what’s the real story? In June 2014, Derek Broaddus and his wife Maria closed the $ 1.3 million six-bedroom house at 657 Boulevard. In a few days they received the first letter. They hadn’t moved yet but had already begun to do some renovations, causing the ire of those who wrote the letters. Derek and Maria were thrilled to start this new chapter with their three children, who were 5, 8 and 10 years old.
“I already see you’ve flooded 657 Boulevard with contractors so you can destroy the house as it should have been,” the letter reads in part. “Tsk, tsk, tsk … bad move. You don’t want to make 657 Boulevard miserable.
Other letters will follow and the writer said he wanted “young blood” in the house. The couple went to the police and contacted the previous owners, John and Andrea Woods, who had lived in the house for 23 years.
Andrea told the new owners that a few days before she and her husband moved in, they had also received a letter from The Watcher that she described as odd. She also said that the Watcher’s family had been observing the house for years. It was the first time the Woods had received something like this. She threw the letter away. When the new owners received their first letter, the old owners accompanied them to the police station. Detective Leonard Lugo advised them not to tell anyone about the letters, including neighbors, which were now suspects. They were terrified.
Other letters followed and mentioned their children. “It’s been years and years since young blood dominated the corridors of the house. Have you already discovered all the secrets it hides? 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 from the rest of the house. If you were upstairs, you would never hear them scream, “reads part of another letter. They hadn’t moved yet and weren’t sure if they ever would.
Westfield is an idyllic and affluent town. It is less than an hour from the bustling streets of New York City and is the perfect place to raise a family. But their dream had turned into a nightmare. They had already sold their old house, so they moved in with Maria’s parents. They were stuck paying their mortgage and property taxes on 657 Boulevard. Both were depressed and, six months after the first letter, they decided to put the house up for sale and sell it. But you know what small town gossip is. Rumors spread and while some suspected the couple had buyer’s remorse and claimed it was a hoax to leave the house, others felt sorry for them and saw them as victims.
They thought about selling, even at a loss, and instead decided to rent it out in the hope that a few uneventful years could help them sell in the future. In 2018, the prosecutor’s office was still investigating, but no one had been caught.
Wiedeman’s article was updated on October 11, two days before the show’s premiere on October 13. Four years have passed since the first publication of the article and the case remains unsolved. But a lot has happened.
In March 2019, five years after the Broaddus family paid more than $ 1.35 million for 657 Boulevard, they put it back on the market for $ 999,000. They hoped to sell it to a builder who would demolish it; one family bought it for $ 959,000. They took a sizable loss. According to Wiedeman’s update, the Broaddus paid 60 mortgage payments of $ 5,495.13 for a home the family never lived in. The new owners say they have not received any letters (yet) and, although the investigation has continued, the case has turned cold but remains open. Without a confession or DNA match, it may never be solved.
The article speculates that although the family has turned down countless media and documentary opportunities, the family made money by giving Netflix the rights to their story. You know how gossip the neighbors are. There are rumors that the family made $ 10 million, but the reporter wrote that the money from the Netflix deal did not cover the family’s losses on the house. Perhaps the TV adaptation of Murphy and Brennan will renew interest and help law enforcement finally settle the case.