REVIEW: Netflix’s latest mystery ‘The Watcher’ is undeniably captivating

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Photo courtesy of Neflix

By Vianney Morales

Netflix’s latest hit series, “The Watcher,” generated considerable anticipation before its recent release Oct. 13. However, many viewers are split about the mystery’s ending.

“The Watcher” is a limited drama series, co-created by producer Ryan Murphy, very loosely based on the true story of a family who was harassed by threatening, anonymous letters after purchasing their dream home.

Murphy has a track record of deeply dramatizing and completely losing sight of the actual events when adapting a true story into a series. “The Watcher” is by no means an exception to this.

Like numerous other adaptations that are proclaimed as “based on true events,” the writers take many creative liberties with the story. I was slightly familiar with the true story and was surprised by the direction the series takes, yet I couldn’t help but go along with it.

It has an undeniably captivating story. It was completely compelling in terms of the plot, writing, and performances.

It’s almost like a whodunnit, except there isn’t an unsolved murder. Rather, there’s a seemingly endless stream of strange, nerve-wracking events that demand answers that no one could quite answer. The mystery strangely reminded me of “The Haunting of Hill House.”

It checks off nearly every box for a binge-worthy watch. It has seven episodes, with each episode ranging from about 40 minutes to an hour.

Just when you think you can get a grasp of what’s happening and who’s terrorizing the family, the story takes an entirely new direction.

It has an exceptional cast with familiar faces like Naomi Watts and Jennifer Coolidge. Bobby Cannavale plays the protective husband and father, Dean, who gets lost in the mystery as he unrelentingly seeks to find the person responsible for tormenting his family. Cannavale and Watts both deliver notable performances as the leads of the series but the supporting performances are just as impactful.

It has some of the best writing I’ve seen in a series all year. It’s pretty bizarre but also wildly entertaining.

Going in, I knew that the real mystery it was based on was never solved. However, with the many added details of the adaptation, I didn’t necessarily expect the writers to stay faithful to this. Needless to say, I was slightly disheartened by the ending. Though other viewers are extremely disappointed and even angry with the ending, I can appreciate a mystery that lingers with the viewers. After all, it’s a powerful thing– leaving an audience to ponder and make their own conclusions. It’s kind of like a big joke played on the audience; even if there was a definitive answer of who or why, people would still complain.

I should admit that, in hindsight, the series is fairly ridiculous. Somehow, the writing just made me lose sight of my instinctive guesses and I believed every detail that was shown. I never once questioned that someone might be lying about a story or memory because their retelling was supported by a reenactment of their version of events. It felt like you were going on this journey with this family who are desperate to uncover a mystery that can’t stop growing.

It made me reflect on the art of storytelling, which is often overlooked and not truly appreciated. The utter detail that went into the series makes all of the other shows I’ve watched recently dull in comparison.

The series certainly isn’t for everyone, especially those who just want to skip to the end and figure out the who and why. However, it makes for an extremely entertaining watch.

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