〉The terrifying true story is hot on the market, with multiple studios vying for the rights
In a nightmarish story straight out of a horror film, a New Jersey family was forced to leave their idyllic dream home after becoming tormented by a terrifying stalker who calls themselves “The Watcher.” In two days, the macabre report made national headlines and has already captivated Hollywood interest. I’m hearing that in a mad scramble to be the first out of the gate, several packages are being shopped all over town, with names like James Wan and Bryan Bertino in the mix. Sources confirm that interest is swelling and the project is taking shape at the likes of Blumhouse Productions, Dimension Films, New Line Cinema, and Universal. Several different takes on the true terror tale are being pitched across the board, some unofficially, with rights still up in the air.
The disturbing story came to light when Westfield, N.J. homeowners, Derek and Maria Broaddus, filed a civil complaint in Union County Superior Court against the previous owners of their new house, for failing to inform them about a mysterious tormentor watching the grounds. Shortly after the Broaddus family bought the new residence, they began to receive terrifying notes written by a person who claims ownership of the house, asserting that they watch over it as a part of their family legacy.
“My grandfather watched the house in the 1920s and my father watched in the 1960s. It is now my time,” one note read. “I have been put in charge of watching and waiting for its second coming.”
The Broaddus’ are suing the previous owners, as well as Chicago Title Insurance Company and A Absolute Escrow Settlement Company for common law fraud, equitable fraud, emotional distress, and for not disclosing the existence of the stalker before they sold the house. The Broaddus’ fled the property after they feared for their children’s safety following a particularly menacing note: “I asked the Woods (the previous owners) to bring me young blood,” it threatened. “Have they found what is in the walls yet? In time they will.”
The chilling language continues with quotes like “Do you need to fill the house with the young blood I requested? Once I know their names I will call to them and draw them out to me.”
“I am pleased to know your names now and the name of the young blood you have brought to me,” another read. “Will the young bloods play in the basement?
In one letter, the figure claimed that the windows and doors “allow me to watch you and track you as you move through the house.” “Who has the bedrooms facing the street? I’ll know as soon as you move in. … It will help me to know who is in which bedroom then I can plan better.”
No charges have currently been filled regarding the case, but it’s easy to see how the ominous occurrence of “The Watcher” sparked immediate attention from the Hollywood community. Blumhouse seems like a natural fit, as the shingle as risen to establish themselves as one of the primer names in horror. Yet, I’m hearing that Dimension is hungry for the property, and moving swiftly after a take was pitched to them by an unnamed writer.
Wan is an obvious choice given his track record with supernatural hits like the Conjuring and Insidious series, but Bertino appears as a standout after helming sleeper hit The Strangers, which featured a similar story, a tone more consistent with the tale of “The Watcher,” and was inspired by real home invasions.
No matter where it ends up, the eerie story is ripe for a film adaptation, following in the footsteps of classics like The Amityville Horror and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
“Who I am? I am the Watcher.”
Clark Allen | Associate Editor