True Crime has always been around and, unfortunately, it’s never going away. It’s a topic of common conversation and, even more recently, a trending category boasting popular documentaries that take the world by storm. We can all remember the winter Making A Murderer debuted on Netflix where one man’s captivating story initiated a global debate that continues to feed our hunger for more True Crime. Fast forward to Netflix’s latest crime-riddled series, Tiger King, masses of viewers still prove to be drawn to quality compilations of facts, opinions, and the evils committed in our everyday society.
If you are a True Crime fan looking for substance that will keep your attention and are wondering what other documentaries or docuseries are out there that hold up in not only interest, but quality filmmaking in the likes of Making A Murderer and Tiger King, the following are 10 Terrifying True Crime Documentaries And Series You Can Binge Right Now. Each tells a very different story. All are truly terrifying in their own way.
10. Cropsey (2009)
Urban myths and legends are typically the source material for works of fiction. Joshua Zeman and Barbara Brancaccio set out to find a real life boogeyman located in New York City and reveal the lore behind his disturbing legend in Cropsey. Unfortunately, the monster in the woods is very real. With five missing children, a mysterious figure brought to the headlines, and a whole lot of cover-ups, Cropsey is an entertaining documentary that is full of surprises and candid real-life storytelling. While it asks more questions than it answers, this film appeals to the nature of debate and forces viewers to give attention to the wrongdoings of not just one man, but an entire town. The makings of Cropsey sound like details stolen straight from a horror movie, but the still undiscovered truth proves to be real, raw, True Crime and is scarier than anything we could see on the screen. Cropsey is currently streaming on Tubi.
9. Wild Wild Country (2018)
The separation of church and state should draw a pretty clear line, but that is not always the case. As a controversial cult builds itself up in rural Oregon, the local residents begin to suspect the group’s unusual ongoings in Maclain and Chaplan Way’s Wild Wild Country. It’s a battle from start to finish as the community of followers and locals hash it out over their territory beginning a mass conflict that includes bioterror, wiretapping, and all the titillation that surrounds any type of cult activity. Wild Wild Country is a True Crime docuseries has villains lurking around every corner, twists and turns itself around multiple perspectives, and has a fluid, progressive movement through the whole film. If you think your neighbors are bad, this one might have your singing their good graces by the time the sixth and final episode wraps up. Wild Wild Country is currently streaming on Netflix.
8. Evil Genius: The True Story Of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist (2018)
Do you remember that weird bank-robbery-gone-wrong committed by the “pizza bomber” case back in 2003? You may as well forget everything you know about it, except for the odd details about the heist itself, and watch Barbara Schroeder and Trey Borzillieri’s Evil Genius: The True Story Of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist. As the showdown between officers and the robber played out on national television, the truth behind this victim’s demise are intensely stunning and delve deeper into a wicked love triangle crafted out of uninhabited intelligence and treacherous menace. The justice system’s failures are almost the least compelling pieces of the Evil Genius puzzle. This four-part True Crime docuseries is filled with colorful characters, unsettling motivations, and ridiculous circumstances that will have you doubting the events up until its disastrous end. Evil Genius is currently streaming on Netflix.
7. The Keepers (2017)
A religious convent and catholic school for children should be one of the safest places for anyone to occupy. The Keepers may have you thinking otherwise. Ryan Smith’s True Crime docuseries revolving around the disappearance and murder of young nun, Cathy Cesnik, proves it to be a setting full of troublesome authority, nefarious behaviors, and evil politics. Two students, now grown adults, launch an investigation into the loss of their beloved teacher and friend. Seven hour-long episodes make up The Keepers and chronicle a more recent relaunch into sexual abuse claims that were once buried. The truth behind what Cathy knew and the dangers she faced in the name of what is right makes this a hard pill to swallow, but a more commendable endeavor in exposing the truth. Not everything is as it seems. The Keepers is currently streaming on Netflix.
6. The Staircase (2004)
Many True Crime documentaries beg the question, did they or didn’t they? Jean-Xavier de Lestrade’s The Staircase is a thorough exploration into the death of Kathleen Peterson, one of the most puzzling homicide cases with some of the craziest possibilities. Secrets are revealed and moving parts are dedicated to analyzing likely causes from the famous owl theory to a husband’s motives in hiding some incriminating secrets. Novelist Michael Peterson is quite a character, but the evidence really steals the show as forensics, science, and even good old circumstantial pieces are pushed and pulled apart, leaving much room for debate. The Staircase had everyone talking for a reason and much of that is owed to its gripping pieces, appealing subject matter, and the spark of conversation that only a case filled with many levels of steps between its beginning and end can stir up. One of the best parts about this docuseries? It is a whopping 13 episodes long. I did say it was thorough. The Staircase is currently streaming on Netflix.
5. Casting JonBenét (2017)
“Chilling” is by far the best way to describe Kitty Green’s surreal look at casting the roles for a True Crime documentary centered around the unfortunate death of JonBenét Ramsey. Offering a peek inside the auditioning process of casting these actors and actresses for the roles of the members of the Ramsey family, Casting JonBenét deviates from the traditional standards of True Crime format and instead portrays a more artistic view of bringing the sensational story to life. Not only is the case itself a sad, bottomless tragedy of dead ends, but the way this documentary showcases the fascination and commitment associated with JonBenét’s death portrays a moody darkness with no light in sight. There is no twist or shock factor as this documentary focuses on slowly laying out a heavy, brooding atmosphere staged by odd performers and understandings. If you are one of those interested in the ever evolving investigation into the young girl’s death, this is an alternative and intriguing adaptation worth experiencing. Casting JonBenét is currently streaming on Netflix.
4. Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes (2019)
There’s probably no figure in True Crime fashion that has caused more controversy lately, and in the past, than that of notorious serial killer, Ted Bundy. Between Joe Berlinger’s Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile and his docuseries of newly released recordings of Bundy’s time with journalists Stephen Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth, Confessions With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, the terrifying shadow of Bundy has been cast in a wide range of lights from charming to depraved. Criticized for glamorizing his brutally violent and heinous crimes as a deviant rock star of sorts, Conversations With A Killer walks through the slayings of Bundy’s victims guided by his own words and thoughts, his “confessions”, so to speak. However, this is not all about what the killer has to say. Four 60-minute episodes provide a variety of testimonies from family members, experts, and even survivors. Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes is currently streaming on Netflix.
3. Don’t F**k With Cats: Hunting An Internet Killer (2019)
The internet can be a very dangerous and toxic place, but it can also be an environment full of resources and support. Mark Lewis’ boldly titled three-episode mini-series Don’t F**k With Cats: Hunting An Internet Killer is a brave statement made in a True Crime docuseries about one Facebook group organization’s effort to reveal the identity of a vile blogger who posts videos of gruesome acts towards animals. When the stranger begins trolling the group members and gradually testing the limits of violence before things get really graphic and deadly. This is not a series for anyone who is sensitive to animal abuse (although I found it tolerable and I am extremely sensitive when it comes to animals in pain), but it is pretty incredible to see clips of the videos this hunted person posted and to see how hundreds of people were able to piece together fragments of his identity based on details in those videos. Don’t F**k With Cats: Hunting An Internet Killer is currently streaming on Netflix.
2. Abducted in Plain Sight (2017)
There are some True Crime stories captured in documentary format that outrage and appall, especially when it comes to the abuse of children. Abducted In Plain Sight is one of those documentaries. The Broberg family seem to live an average life alongside their friendly neighbors, but the twisted fate and odd “love” story that unfolds is an unspeakable nightmare that effects all involved. Jan Broberg, her family, and bystanders of all accounts uncover the consequential events that changed the life they knew forever. Abducted In Plain Sight is bizarre, frustrating, and, at times, completely outrageous. While there is one to truly blame, there are so many layers to the people that contributed to the ongoing crime being committed that viewers are sure to find themselves uncomfortable and uneasy. True Crime will often show viewers that sometimes the scariest monsters are living right next door, they’re friends with your parents, and can manipulate anyone who crosses their path. Abducted In Plain Sight is currently streaming on Netflix.
1. Dear Zachary: A Letter To A Son About His Father (2008)
Documentaries are meant to take viewers on a unique experience and captivate using both fact and emotion. Dear Zachary: A Letter To A Son About His Father begins as a tribute video to a child about his father by his best friend and filmmaker, Kurt Kuenne. In an effort to immortalize a portrait of his best friend, Dear Zachary: A Letter To A Son About His Father combines the circumstances of love, murder, memory, and preserverance in a raw investigation full of heart. What becomes of this initially lovely love letter is complete and utter horror that not only shocks and devastates, but will make viewers question some of the contributing decisions made by the legal systems at play. If you can handle major heartbreak that ultimately trumps the aspects of True Crime, Dear Zachary: A Letter To A Son About His Father is a magnificent piece that deserves the attention of all documentary seekers. It’s best to go in as blind as possible, if you can handle it. Reality is terrifying and it’s even worse when it finds its way to the innocent. Dear Zachary: A Letter To A Son About His Father is currently streaming on Tubi.
Are you a fan of True Crime documentaries and series? Which one of these catch your interest? Which True Crime documentary or series would you add to this list? Let us know your thoughts over on Twitter, Reddit, or in the Horror Movie Fiend Club on Facebook!