The Watcher is the new internet sensation and Netflix once again has a blockbuster on its hands. Surely when you spend millions on so many shows, one or the other is bound to catch on. The incredulous story of a family being hassled by an unknown entity calling themselves “the watcher” is in fact based on a true story. Almost all the details around the family are changed for reasons of privacy but the gory details of what happened to them have remained the same. It gives you chills watching the drama unfold. The surreal reimagination features telling performances from Bobby Cannavale, Naomi Watts, Jenniffer Coolidge, and Mia Farrow, among others. Themes such as claustrophobia, home invasion, and the psychological dread of the uncertain dominate the story. We have brought you a list of movies and shows like The Watcher on Netflix below.




The Gift (2015)

Movies Like The Watcher 01 The Gift

When Simon and Robyn move into a new house, they find a familiar face. The expectation, generally speaking, is that of comfort and a homely sense of belonging you seek in them. The Gift’s reality is far from it. The couple is in fact terrorized by Gordo’s presence, which grows increasingly sinister as the story unfolds. Some wounds from the past have yet to heal. But time is a spitting, indifferent thing. Clockwork never stops and those wounds, over time, become toxic pools of poison. Gordo unleashes that on the couple, not allowing them to make a fresh start. A vulnerable Rebecca Hall is the star of the show, as she usually is. Her presence makes a deep impact on the viewer, as Naomi Watts’ does in The Watcher. The two projects are strikingly similar in both the plot and thematic structure. Joel Edgerton, who plays Gordo, similarly lingers around Simon and Robyn’s house, much like the watcher. Although the former can be seen and the latter remains in the shadows, they both reign in destruction and arouse fear in the minds of their targets.

That is exactly the unique way in which both The Gift and The Watcher exploit the fear of the known and the unknown. It is not unusual for psychological thrillers to derive their energy from either form. It can swivel and flourish in both of them equally if the hand wielding them is crafty enough. Luckily, both Ryan Murphy and Joel Edgerton are up to the task and do justice with their interpretations. The crippling anxiety is what binds The Watcher and The Gift and it is too delicious to pass up.




Related Content: 50 Best English Language Films of 2015

Inside (2007)

Movies Like The Watcher 02 The Inside

This French slasher thriller was an easy entrant on the list. As much as The Watcher is topsy-turvy story heavy, the element of home invasion is ubiquitous. It is in the very DNA of the work. The tangible sense of angst and anxiety over someone having access to your house is dreadful. Our pregnant protagonist Sarah goes through something very similar in Inside. The French have a brazen and more visceral eye for violence. Their threshold for the gore on screen is among the most tolerant in the world – and at times, shockingly so. Inside gives you plenty of moments like that. Just like The Watcher, Sarah feels isolated in her own house and the fear of an eternal threat shakes her up. She suffers the same fate as the Brannocks, although sans most of the violence.




While in Inside the violence is both mental and physical, in The Watcher, it is mostly mental. The tone of the narration and the truth – whatever that may be – is whimsical, as opposed to the grim, more somber reality of Inside. Having said that, Inside is a great companion piece to The Watcher. It was one of the first films I thought of when I saw The Watcher.




The Strangers (2008)

Movies Like The Watcher 03 The Strangers

Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman are trapped in their house as three masked sociopaths taunt and terrorize them. No frills. No special effects. Just the fear of your ultimate safe space being violated and used against you. Remind you of something else? Well, that could easily have been a succinct description of The Watcher and you wouldn’t even have recognized it. The Strangers is like The Watcher in some quite apparent ways. Minimalism in stimulating fear is the chosen path both stories tread on. There is also a pointed discussion on the safety of living a life in a well-sorted-out neighborhood or the environs of the countryside. There are many true crime documentaries revolving around sub-urban horrors that have surfaced from the unlikeliest of places.

The Strangers delves into a similar issue with its classy one-stage setting. It takes inspiration from real-life events too, although avoids sole concentration on any one particular event. The generality in those occasions is summed up in a shocking narration that leaves you stupefied with its straightforwardness and lack of theatrics. If one looks at the franchise as a whole, the symptoms are the same. The Strangers is quite a unique experience, despite the cold reviews from people who couldn’t take a liking to its “too real” execution and version of violent events.




When a Stranger Calls (1979)

Movies Like The Watcher 04 When a Stranger Calls

A fun fact about When a Stranger Calls is that Wes Craven referenced this classic cult of a movie in his own Scream, which also makes the list. “Checking the children” is probably one of the scariest lines you can hear from a stranger. Irrespective of age, the first paternal instincts are to rush to their aid and apprehend a calamity. That fear grips Jill when something similar happens to her. Like Nora and Dean, she finds herself incapable of deciding what to do. The story then takes on the shape of a more nuanced social commentary of pop culture and contemporary ideas about psychiatry and sanity but the core remains similar to The Watcher.




There is a similar depiction of obsession in both The Watcher and When a Stranger Calls. In both cases, this feeling is aroused in the protagonists through an external force but is allowed to become consuming only because of their own actions. Lack of judgment is probably a better word too. Dean reminded me of Loki from Prisoners. These are the kind of characters who wear their hearts on their sleeves and suffer from the savior syndrome to a fault. It is a challenge to distinguish their heroism from their paranoia. But I guess that is where all the fun lies.




Scream (1996)

Wes Craven made living alone at your house a nightmare back in the 1990s. If the Nightmare at Elm Street wasn’t enough, viewers also had to endure the dread of living through the Scream franchise. The most brilliant was the original thinkpiece that shattered genre conventions to give us a reinvented form of slasher bloodfest. The Watcher and Scream both ingrain in you through their characters the fear of being alone at home and the endless possibilities you could think of coming to life. Their nightmarish tones are difficult to resist for too long. Another commonality is the sense of satire that both filmmakers imbibe in their works. Although Scream is quite outlandish about getting it through, The Watcher has subtle connotations that point toward a similar conclusion. The subversion of archetypes for actors is also another point of similarity between the two. It is perfectly normal for you to “scream” more in The Watcher but “watching” Scream won’t be a disappointing experience for sure.




Zodiac (2007)

Zodiac is the king of unresolved endings. There is hardly any film as classic as Zodiac when it comes to combining serial murderers and unresolved crimes. Memories of Murder perhaps came close but since the killer is caught, Zodiac makes this list. You probably would have thought of this film first when you finished The Watcher. The very last line that says that the “crime remains unresolved and we never know who the watcher is” ushers both calmness and restlessness. It is an ironic and oxymoronic mix but one that reflects how you feel while watching both Zodiac and The Watcher: divided. That is how both Fincher and Murphy lead you to feel. That territory is well shepherded by the two but the journey you make beyond that is truly your own.

There are several ways in which you can dissect the cases as many did in their time. The details are so intriguing that you can hardly help yourself. The strength to be neutral to certain facts speaks to your inherent prejudice and biases against certain things. You are perhaps even exploited in a certain stage way by choosing a side, albeit subconsciously. Zodiac and The Watcher are masterful works that successfully evoke feelings in you. It stays with you long after you have watched them.




The Wicker Man (1973)

Movies Like The Watcher 07 The Wicker man

Do not tell yourself that you didn’t at one point think the entire town of Westfield was involved in the conspiracy. You definitely went down that route and contemplated hard enough to theorize each and every character’s role. Well, that is how Ryan Murphy inadvertently made the cinematic universe of The Wactehr feel. Except, Robin Hardy did it many decades before with The Wicker Man. And in this case, it was actually true! It truly is one of the most remarkably underrated cult films that no one has seemed to have watched. Christopher Lee’s central villain is evil incarnate himself and will stop at no lengths to entice you with the outward appearance of a gentleman. The sheer delivery of the island comes alive in a fantastic hour and a half of debauchery, burning effigies, hoodlum, some naked dances, and a bloodthirsty march in honor of a wicked entity.




Servant (2019-)

The Watcher had plenty of Shyamalan-like turns in the narration that you’d almost feel obliged to associate something by the man himself with the Netflix series. Cometh this Apple TV original that many viewers still haven’t been able to get their heads around. All the themes I talked about at the beginning that we found in The Watcher are replicated with perhaps even more nuance in Servant. The plot is certainly even more emotional and decrypt. However, there is also a vanilla-like plainness in how the characters react to grief and find ways to handle it in their own ways. Such is the accessibility to the core of the story that you almost feel the inherent pain on the screen. Shyamalan and Tony Basgallop subrogate the viewer into the couples’ shoes and probe at the weak spots with utmost confidence and sincerity. Full marks for Apple to keep going with this oddball drama. But if you liked The Watcher and haven’t watched Servant, get to your screens right away as soon as the clock strikes five.




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The Watcher Links: IMDb, Wikipedia

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