The Watcher terrifies, but his greatest fear is emptiness

The Watcher terrifies, but his greatest fear is emptiness

The Watcher terrifies

It is quite clear from its trailer that The Watcher, the new Ryan Murphy series that arrived on October 13 on Netflix, is a perfectly constructed mechanism to disturb the viewer in the environment that should make him feel protected most: his own home. This reversal of the more conventional peaceful life is already enough in the abstract to put the viewer on the line, the awareness that the plot is based on a story all too real makes these seven episodes, which even do everything to expand and move away from the story. from which they are taken, even more difficult to sustain, especially if you are at home alone.

The series focuses on a rather close-knit couple but not without solidity problems, Dean and Nora Brannock (Bobby Cannavale and Naomi Watts), who seek refuge with their two children from city life by moving to the placid and very tidy suburbs of the American province: they fall in love with a house that they buy beyond their means and move immediately, throwing themselves into the dream of a muffled life and quiet. However, the problems with the neighbors begin, especially with Mo (Margo Martindale), a sick woman who together with her husband is intrusive and over the top, and Pearl (Mia Farrow), obsessed with the historical conversation of the house and whose son is wanders creepy even if uninvited.

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But above all the couple begins to receive disturbing anonymous letters from a mysterious neighbor who signs himself as the Observer, who makes threatening references to the fact that he observes them, alludes to mysteries hidden in the walls of the house and above all them thanks for bringing "fresh blood". At the same time, more and more distressing events begin to happen and, although husband and wife build a kind of self-inflicted prison of cameras and security systems, their attempt to feel safe is of little value, also due to the ineffectiveness of police and detective: music of unknown origins, gunshots, phone calls and other disturbances will make their life there practically impossible, throwing them into a whirlwind of paranoia that risks ruining any aspect of their life.

The starting point of the series is, in fact, rather terrifying, also because each of us can see the paradoxical amplification of small domestic or neighborhood problems that are never too rare. Many scenes, moreover, are built with wisdom to terrify the viewer, yet one cannot help but be cooled by the hand of Murphy, who treats any theme a little in the same way, making this The Watcher another sweetened season too. of American Horror Story (whose new episodes also start in the United States next week, increasing the feeling of a continuous cycle of serial production always identical to itself). After having guessed Dahmer too, Murphy confirms himself as brilliant in finding the most morbid and attractive stories for the public, but then crystallizes them in his style always obsessed with the grotesque, the exaggerated, certain clichés that are basically trite.

Mia Farrow and Terry Kinney as Pearl and Jasper Winslow ERIC LIEBOWITZ / NETFLIX Even the perhaps not entirely essential length of The Watcher tells us that we are facing a kind of vacuous horror (fewer episodes and above all less deviations would have been enough. somewhat manneristic). On the other hand, the cast is very interesting and repays some narrative woodiness: Farrow and Martindale are two sacred monsters who fill their short scenes with such an actor's stature that it comes down to forgiving Murphy everything for this tasty recovery of the great divas of the past; Cannavale is very intense in portraying a man who can no longer protect his family, while Watts does his best to fill a character who, despite his efforts, always remains marginal and underdeveloped; but then there is her, Jennifer Coolidge, in the midst of her rebirth that began with The White Lotus and who, even here, conquers in very few lines with the character of a real estate agent outside the box.

If there is then one aspect that saves The Watcher and ultimately makes it a remarkable entertainment vision is that it plays on different levels of reality: we never really know (at least in the initial episodes) if the threat that the Brannocks suffer is so concrete or rather fruit of their insecurities and paranoia. So much so that one thinks that the scariest thing in the whole affair is that the two dug their own grave by getting into meaningless debt and not being able to resell it without losing tens of thousands of dollars, which would send them even more in crisis. . In this sense, the house becomes a powerful metaphor for a certain type of American dream that turns against people by forcing them into asphyxiating cages and without escape. With this gravitas removed, it remains a rather ordinary series but in a world of ever more numerous series at least it knows exactly what it wants to be.

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