'The Watcher' Is Inspired By A Creepy True Story

by Molly Freeman
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Phusana Polsongkram / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images

Lifetime is notorious for its ripped from the headlines made-for-TV movies. Of course, the network has also premiered plenty of drama-filled movies that have absolutely no basis on any true story, so you can't say Lifetime doesn't have the range. Still, I know when I see a preview for a new Lifetime movie, I'm wondering whether it's inspired by real events. So, along those lines, I did some digging into whether Lifetime's new movie, The Watcher , is based on a true story or not. With a creepy title like The Watcher you'd hope it isn't, but I've got some bad news.

According to the official synopsis for The Watcher from A+E Networks, the movie is "inspired by a true story." Interesting, but the full synopsis gives us a little more to go on: "A young couple overextends to buy their dream home only to get tormented by unknown forces determined to drive them out." OK, yikes, definitely sounds like a horror story but that's not a whole lot to go on. The official Lifetime page for The Watcher has a more detailed synopsis:

Unaware of its terrible history, a young couple purchases their dream home. But it soon becomes clear that they may not be alone in the house... and that someone--or some thing--is determined to drive them out.

Sure, The Watcher sounds creepy, but it also sounds like a pretty standard ghost story-turned-horror movie. Unfortunately, the real story is creepier — probably because there's nothing supernatural about it.

Back in June 2015, NJ.com reported on a Westfield, NJ couple who had filed a lawsuit against the prior owners of their home for withholding knowledge that the house was also the focus of a stalker who sent threatening letters to the residents and signed them as simply "The Watcher." According to the suit, the couple and their children never moved into the house because the letters — the first of which arrived three days after they'd purchased the residence for $1.3 million — were too distressing. But, because of The Watcher's letters, they were unable to resell the house.

Among other statements, the letters are reported to have said, "I am The Watcher and have been in control of (the house) for the better part of two decades now." While other excerpts read, "Have they found what is in the walls yet? In time they will;" "Will the young bloods play in the basement;" "All the windows and doors in (the house) allow me to watch you and track you as you move through the house."

According to a recent report from USA Today, the Westfield Watcher house is on the market. As for the anonymous writer of the letters, the Westfield Police Department have not yet found any evidence pointing to a suspect and they remain under investigation. Additionally, the New York Times reports the original owners of the house filed a lawsuit of their own against the couple for "frivolous litigation and defamation."

So, we may not know much about The Watcher from its synopses — like whether or not it will take a supernatural route while adapting this true story — but if the Lifetime movie is anything like the real events of what happened to the New Jersey couple, then this is going to be a film to watch with all the lights on and all the doors locked. Maybe even lock your mailbox, too, just to be safe.

Images: Phusana Polsongkram / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images; Giphy (2)