Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Watcher will be watching Netflix's adaptation of true-life horror story The Watcher

Illustration for article titled The Watcher will be watching Netflix's adaptation of true-life horror story The Watcher
Photo: ullstein bild (Getty Images)

The best horror story of the year wasn’t found at the cinema, but in the online annals of The Cut, where writer Reeves Wiedeman introduced the world to The Watcher, a mysterious, menacing figure that turned the lives of Derek Broaddus and his family into a terrifying nightmare. The rights to the tale, which includes a dream house, terrifying letters, and far too many references to “young blood,” have now been purchased by Netflix for what Deadline reports is a seven-figure sum.


Netflix emerged victorious in a field of bidders that included studios like Universal and Paramount, who hoped to secure the property for Jason Blum and J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot, respectively. Amazon and Warner Bros. were also vying for the rights, which included not just Wiedeman’s article, but the details provided by the Broadduses themselves.

The real-life story, which has been swirling around the internet since the whole thing began in 2014, centers around the house at 657 Boulevard in Westfield, New Jersey. The Broaddus family bought it, but soon found themselves receiving threatening letters from someone who called themselves The Watcher. “657 Boulevard has been the subject of my family for decades now and as it approaches its 110th birthday, I have been put in charge of watching and waiting for its second coming,” read the first of many letters that appeared in the family’s mailbox. That’s creepy enough, but the letters repeatedly referenced the Broaddus children and provided exacting details that proved they were watching the family closely.

“I am pleased to know your names now and the name of the young blood you have brought to me,” one letter said. “You certainly say their names often.” Another letter promised it would “call to them and draw them too [sic] me.”

Understandably, the Broaddus family chose not to live in the house, but also hasn’t been able to sell it. Instead, they rent it out while living elsewhere. The Watcher has never been identified.

Catfish and Paranormal Activity 3 directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman will direct the feature, with Screen Arcade’s Eric Newman and Bryan Unkeless producing. We will be watching our queues with anticipation for, you seen, this project has been calling to us with its force within.

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.