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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Criticism: ‘The Watcher’ is overripe with suspense and mystery

Photo by Via IMDb
The Watcher

Rating: 7/10
“The Watcher” is a show overripe with suspense and mystery. It is based on a true story and explores the mayhem as the Brannock family moves into a new home. Despite taking considerable creative liberties tonally adrift in the clouds, audiences will be kept on their toes by the pulsing pace and metronomic reveal of twists.
“The Watcher” presents the Brannock family as the picture-perfect model of an affluent family. The Brannocks were used to the “finer things,” having enough wealth to “invest in art” and risk drinking elegant red wines on fluffy white carpets. As the family moved into their dream home on 657 Blvd., the family’s breezy, rhythmic story was expected to continue. Instead, Brannock’s family story is turned upside down by a nightmarish tornado of events. The plot twists are numerous, from out-of-touch neighbors that are anything but neighborly, to an invasive stalker named “The Watcher” writing disturbingly personal letters to police who don’t do their jobs.
Despite currently ranking as Netflix’s No. 1 show, “The Watcher” has premiered with mixed reviews scoring 50% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes with an average audience score of 36%.
Most critics believe that one of the high points of this show is the performance of Naomi Watts, who plays Nora, the household’s mother.
According to The Word Street Journal, “Naomi Watts plays Nora in ‘The Watcher’, and her acting skills, established over decades of professionalism, rule the entire series.” The character of Nora could have easily turned sour as an unlikeable, privileged character that would be easy to hate. However, Watts manages to balance this juxtaposition as Norma’s relationship with her husband, mother, friend or as a person never strikes as pretentious. The actress portrays the underlying horror perfectly while not hampering an iota of the plot’s markup.
Camera work is often overlooked, but “The Watcher” used a tranquil, still setting and purposeful cinematography to effortlessly capture suspense when it rose. The Word Street Journal also took notice of the show’s cinematography, “‘The Watcher’ forces you to adore the art of calm videography. The people behind the lens ace the gentle movements, comfort[ing] you with slow zoom-ins and throw many admirable shots.”
The real saving grace of the show is credited to the engaging plot, as the show had a pulsing, thrilling momentum that pushed the movie to the finish line. KSTP-TV TCL echoes this statement, with one review saying, “the series will suck you in even if it deviates from the truth and goes in your typical Ryan Murphy direction.”
As the theme of stalkers create swathes of tension throughout the story, we are further heightened with bizarre, cult-like neighbors who reek the “Get Out” vibes and unpredictable and untrustworthy narratives. As the Irish Independent put it, “Yep, ‘The Watcher’ is bananas, but I cannot take my eyes off it.”
This show’s biggest problem is its grossly fictionalized accounts of “The Watcher.” The real story is so captivating since it taps into primal fears of whether one is truly safe in their homes. A safe home is something we all want in our lives, but fear of others is ripe for taking in a new digital era of paranoia.
However, for the sake of sensualization, the show has a lot of plot holes in its creative liberties. The title itself, “The Watcher,” is misleading as the series has ensnared mystery fans who were first trapped by the true story of 657 Blvd., only to get a sensationalized story that strays off course.
Former Variety film critic Brian Tallerico claimed the show is a “highly fictionalized version” that is also “tonally adrift and clouds the impossible-to-believe events instead of illuminating them.”
“There are so many themes that could be unpacked through the details of the true story of ‘The Watcher,’” Talleric wrote.“But Murphy and his team don’t trust the facts, adding more and more ridiculous twists with every episode until the whole thing collapses under any suspension of disbelief.”
There is no doubt that the show’s ratings would have been much higher had it not been marketed based on the true story and presented as an original piece loosely inspired by it.
“The Watcher” creates a sense of fear, apprehension and looming threats that could convince any homeowner to install a thousand security cameras. The Netflix show unravels the torments of the family with just enough felicitous events. The adrenaline rush might be the only thing keeping people … watching.

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