After “The Watcher” hit Netflix on Thursday stating that it was based on a true story, countless viewers have descended on Westfield, New Jersey, to marvel at the home whose real-life owners were terrorized in 2014. Locals, meanwhile, aren’t happy.
“Neighborhood-wise, I mean, it’s been nuts,” town resident Amy Delpuerto told News 12 New Jersey on Monday. “There’s people doing U-turns ... going all over the place. So it’s a definite change for what’s mostly a pretty quiet street.”
She added that the family currently living at the property “has nothing to do with” the story behind the new series.
“The Watcher,” created by Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan, stars Bobby Cannavale and Naomi Watts as a happily married couple who move into their dream home at 657 Boulevard in Westfield — only to receive a series of terrifying letters that threaten their kids and spur obsessive paranoia.
“All of the windows and doors in 657 Boulevard allow me to watch you and track you as you move through the house,” read one real-life letter, per Today. “Who am I? I am the Watcher and have been in control of 657 Boulevard for the better part of two decades now.”
The mysterious case was never solved. While “The Watcher” took creative liberties and changed the names of homeowners Derek and Maria Broaddus to Dean and Nora Brannock, it did use their former address on screen — spurring the current expeditions to the property.
“All we’ve been seeing all day and night, even through the rain, is people passing by with their phones sticking out of their passenger windows just trying to get a quick picture or video of the home,” said News 12 reporter Kristie Keleshian during a broadcast near the property.
The house is now surrounded with “no trespassing” signs and caution tape, according to CBS New York. Squad cars are intermittently deployed in hopes that a police presence can curb some tourism plaguing the area, as authorities are beleaguered by complaints.
“Some people think you can just shut the street down,” Mark LoGrippo, a town councilman, told local news platform TapInto Westfield. “You can’t do that. It’s public access. You can’t prevent people from visiting, as long as everyone’s orderly. But please be respectful of the homeowner and the community.”