Netflix has a new No 1. Show based on a true story. The Brannock family Nora & Dean along with kids Ellie & Carter move into their dream home in a suburban neighborhood. Only to be terrorized remotely by increasing threatening letters signed off as “The Watcher”.
Their investigation leads them to suspect neighbors, police and nearly everyone in the neighborhood. Netflix certainly made this a thrilling story, compelling viewing. The story is based on real life, but how much of the Netflix adaption is fact versus the real house in Westfield New Jersey, in 2014. Here are some interesting facts.
- The Biggest fact is that the Broaddus family (Real names). Never actually moved into their dream home. While they owned the home for around five years, they never actually moved in due to the threatening letters. However in the Netflix adaption the Brannock family move into the house during the first episode.
- While the fictional Netflix family suffer harassment, threats, the murder of a family pet, mysterious phone calls, break-ins and more. The Broaddus family in real life only ever encountered threats via the letters they received. Scary enough that they never moved in, but wouldn’t have made great TV.
- Previous owners of the real house were never harassed. Allegedly one previous owner did receive 1 letter, however it wasn’t taken seriously and merely thrown out. No owners since have admitted to receiving letters either.
- The Brannock family has security cameras installed, which Netflix uses to flesh out the story with a love-arc between the install man and the underage but eldest daughter. In real life the house was rented out, and the new tenant received a letter referencing them. The inspiration for the security cameras in real life is likely the tenant who only agreed to continue staying in the house if cameras were installed.
- The Broaddus family insisted that names, and likeness were changed for the show. Ages of the kids were also changed, with all of them under 10 at the time they purchased the house. The Broaddus family received money for selling their story, however combined with the house sale ended up with a significant financial loss.
- The neighbors Mitch and Mo in the Netflix show do appear to be based on the real life neighbors. They really did have lawn chairs set out facing away from their house, and sat watching 657 Boulevard. At least this was based on a quotes from tradesmen working on the house.
- One of the main suspects in the Netflix show John Graff who allegedly lived in the house, and went crazy killing his whole family appears to be based on a real life person. John List killed his family, and then went on the run for 18 years. He lived in Westfield, and was never a resident of 657 Boulevard.
- There is no evidence of any blood drinking cult from residents of 657 Boulevard or neighbors. This appears to be some exaggeration from “The Watcher” regularly referencing the children as “Young blood”.
- The real house, is actually at 657 Boulevard in Westfield New Jersey. However the house used for filming is an entirely different home in Rye NY.
- Jasper and Pearl appear to be based on real neighbors. Jasper in the show becomes one of the first suspects with creepy references to babies having 100 more bones than adults, and has a weird fascination with the house and the dumbwaiter. The real house didn’t even have a dumbwaiter. The real life reference appears to be slightly odd, and diagnosed schizophrenic neighbors.
- The preservation society versus the real life Westfield Planning Board. While far less creepy, they were involved in preventing the Broaddus family from making some renovations including splitting the home into two residences. The planning board had 100 locals opposing many of the proposed changes. Abby Langford (or Pearl) was one such objector, who had spent 60 years looking at the magnificent 657 Boulevard and wanted it preserved.
- Karen the real-estate agent appears to be complete fiction made up by Netflix to flesh out the story. Such a shame as she offered great comic relief, along with a very plausible suspect.
Netflix has certainly enhanced the real facts, added new and non-existent twists to turn a real life story into fascinating and compelling viewing. It’s hard to believe that the real story played out via envelope only would have come close to being as scary. Either way this is yet another popular must watch show from Netflix.