Love them or loathe them, you can’t help but get hooked when you step into a crime documentary binge. From high-profile cases like the OJ Simpson trial to the Amanda Knox court case, there’s something truly gripping about solving (or not) a mysterious crime. And streaming services are getting in on the act, with Netflix leading the way with an abundance of true crime documentaries that’ll have you binge watching on the sofa for days.
Mind Over Murder
A truly weird and yet fascinating documentary, Mind Over Murder tells the story of six people who were convicted and imprisoned after the murder of an old woman in Nebraska. However, they were later cleared and released of the crime- despite all six confessing. The doc explores how the authorities who arrested them convinced each of them that they had in fact committed the crime, and also covers an amateur theatre production of the events.
Girl In The Picture
Girl In The Picture is a mind bending and creepy new documentary that focuses on the story of a girl found on the side of a road in Oklahoma, named Tonyah Huges, leaving behind a child and husband. However, all is not as it seems when it is revealed by Tonyah’s mother that she in fact died years ago- and that her husband isn’t her husband at all. The son, Charlie, is then abducted by the impostor claiming to be his father. It has to be watched to be believed.
Once Upon A Time In Londongrad
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this year shocked the world- but the government of Vladimir Putin has been committing sinister acts across the globe since coming into office over 20 years ago. This riveting Sky Documentary looks into multiple cases of suspected Russian influence and assassinations (failed and successful) in London- from the high profile radiation poisoning of Alexander Litvenko in 2006 to suspicious deaths of Russian oligarchs. A must see in this global political climate.
Easily one of the most disturbing documentaries out there, the creepy Our Father was released back in April, and caused a pretty big stir online, and it’s not hard to see why. Jacoba Ballad, an American woman leading a seemingly normal life has things turned upside down when she discovers that she had a bunch of half-siblings that she didn’t know existed- and what she discovers is profoundly sickening. A fertility doctor had been secretly inseminating his patients without their consent or knowledge, and managed to slip under the radar for decades. Creepy, but enthralling.
Telling the story of a vegan enterprneur who lost it all, Bad Vegan was a big hit for Netflix when it released a few months ago. Sarma Melngaili’s cooking business empire fell apart when she was defrauded by Anthony Strangis, her boyfriend, and was eventually arrested. It’s partly worth watching for some of it’s weirder elements, like Strangis convicing her he could make her pet dog immortal, and Melngaili’s good friendship with Alec Baldwin.
This 40 minute documentary from 2017 tells a more bemusing story than most of the other entries on this list: in 2003, Juan Catalan was arrested for a murder that he did not commit. He was released however when it was found that he had a very lucky piece of evidence to prove his alibi: he was captured in the background of footage from an episode of American sitcom Curb Your Enthusiasm at a Dodgers basketball game. The doc features talking heads interviews with those involved with the case, including actors from the show like Curb star Larry David himself.
This crime documentary follows the chilling story of Cathy Cesnik – a beloved teacher and nun at a Catholic high school – who mysteriously disappears after two students confide in her about a sexually abusive Priest at their high school. Cathy’s body is found but her case remains unsolved.
Who killed Sister Cathy?
Netflix loves a weird and wild docuseries but this really takes the cake. Based on the true story of controversial cult leader Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, this documentary explores cults, utopian cities, terror-scares and escalating conflicts that lead to a national scandal.
The Fear of 13
No, this isn’t a film about America’s weird fear of the number 13 but a film-documentary about death row inmate Nick Yarris. After spending 21 years in a Pennsylvania prison for murder, crucial DNA evidence is found that might be the key to proving Nick’s innocence.
Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez
This epic fall from grace story had Americans glued to their news channels for weeks, so it’s only right that Netflix has gone and made a documentary delving into the details of former NFL/convicted murderer Aaron Hernandez.
Dirty John: The Dirty Truth
For real-crime seekers, Dirty John: The Dirty Truth will be right up your street and the fictionalised Netflix version starring Connie Britton is also a must-see. Whatever one you choose, both provide fascinating insight into con-men, mental coercion and the crime of lying.
Read our article on the hit Netflix series here
I’ll Be Gone In The Dark
This HBO documentary focuses on Michelle McNamara, an true crime author and amateur detective who became intent on finding the identity of the infamous Golden State Killer, a murderer and rapist who terrorised California for years. McNarama died a couple of years before the killer’s real name, Joseph James DeAngelo, was revealed via a DNA test, and this documentary made two years after that features interviews with experts on the case and those that new her. Her husband, comedian Patton Oswalt, is an executive producer and one of the interviewees.
The Confession Killer
Ok, sometimes we all tell a little white lie to get us by but then actually end up believing it. But confessing to over 6oo murders in graphic detail is a little different. When detectives poke further into Henry Lee Lucas’ confessions of hundreds of murders, all is not what it seems.
Don’t F**k With Cats
Yep, this is an actual documentary and while the name sounds more like a strange comedy sketch, there’s nothing laughable about this docu. Combining all of the things that keep us up at night – murderers, social media fiends and cat killers – is a lethal combination…but we can’t stop watching.
Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes
If you’ve heard about Ted Bundy its likely because you have seen a handsome shot of Zac Efron posing as the killer himself for Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile. As much as we enjoy drooling over Mr Efron, the chilling and damn right creepy element of a true murder doc is lost. Cue the original Ted Bundy tapes to give us our crime drama fix. With witness testimonies and interviews from some of his victims, plus a few interview snippets from the killer himself, this is a crime junkies dream, or nightmare.
Everyone loves a good guy, especially a novel-writing nerdy guy. Well, in a twist of events the good guy turns bad, or so we think. Like trying to solve the problem of what came first, the chicken or the egg, piecing together this investigation is tricky. Did novelist Michael Peterson really push his wife to her death down their staircase…you’ll have to find out.
I Am A Killer
If you have ever wondered what characteristics make a murderer, then I Am A Killer is here to provide a little more insight. Profiling prisoners convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death, inmates recount the events that led up to their crime, with killers revealing their motivations and how they now view their actions, after spending time on death row.
The scariest thing about this documentary is the incessant and creepy stare that Amanda Knox shoots at the camera – our spines are tingling with fear at the thought. One of Netflix’s latest documentaries focuses on the story of Amanda Knox, the American accused of killing British backpacker Meredith Kurcher in Italy. This whirlwind case changes its mind more than the tide and if you thought it was hard to keep up with the Kardashians then honey, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
The documentary that leaves you with more questions than answers: What happened? Who’s story is true? And can I trust my favourite pizza delivery man? Yep, this documentary revolves around a real-life incident in Pennsylvania of a pizza guy who tries to rob a bank with a ticking bomb strapped around his neck. I swear we haven’t made this up.
Abducted In Plain Sight
Screaming in terror at true-crime documentaries might be a normal occurrence for you but letting out a scream of frustration, maybe not so much. Welcome abducted in plain sight to make everything 10 times more frustrating than we can deal with. When 12-year-old Jan Broberg gets kidnapped by her disturbing neighbour, our crime drama radar has already kicked in. In a bizarre turn of events, she returns home, only to be re-kidnapped by the same man.
The biggest true crime documentary of all time? The impact of Tiger King- released early on in the pandemic- ingrained it into pop culture and made true crime docs even more popular than before. Examining the world and rilvaries of big cat conservation and in particular the convicted felon Joe Exotic, the series is still very much worth a watch if you’ve not seen it, and you can make your own mind up on all the Exotic v Baskin debates. Seasons 2 and 3 are nowhere near as interesting (and neither is the dramatised version Joe vs. Carole), but the original season is still great television.
Making a Murderer
When this Netflix documentary dropped, it had the whole world talking. And for all the right reasons. Serving 18 years for a murder he didn’t commit, then becoming a prime suspect in another murder, Stephen Avery’s story brings to light the issues of police corruption and injustice.
The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst
This 2015 HBO documentary became a sensation when it first aired- not least because its main subject was arrested just before the final episode aired. The Jinx is a riveting docuseries focusing on the real estate agent Robert Durst, a convicted murderer. It examines the murders that were attributed to him and also delves into the mind of the killer himself. A brilliant six episode watch.
OJ: Made In America
“The Trial of the Century” as it’s been dubbed divided America and changed how we consume celebrity and news media forever- and OJ: Made In America provides perhaps the best and most unflinching depiction of events out there. Close to eight hours long, the film won Best Documentary at the 2017 Academy Awards and is truly worthy of it. It tells the story of OJ’s early years and the role of race and fame in his trial, and extends to his conviction for a robbery in Las Vegas several years later. Some of the evidence at the trial is shown pretty graphically- but Made In America is excellent viewing in parts or even a full eight hour marathon.
Following his son’s death in a drug-related shooting, Louisiana pharmacist Dan Schneider embarks on a mission to bring his son’s killer to justice. His pursuit leads to some shocking revelations of the town’s opioid crisis and the extreme corruption behind drug addiction.
Cold Case Files
Knowing the outcome of long-unsolved murders definitely helps us sleep a little better at night. Here to provide us with our investigation fix, Cold Case Files re-examines mystifying murders using modern forensic science, DNA evidence, criminal psychology and new witness evidence.
Women Behind Bars
If you’re a fan of Channel 4’s Women Who Kill then this will be right up your street. Women behind bars is an in-depth examination of some female inmates’ true and shocking crimes.
The Disappearance Of Madeleine McCann
When 3-year-old Madeleine McCann vanishes from her holiday apartment in Praia Da Luz, the world cast a watchful eye over her case. Netflix explores the crazy media attention this case got plus looks at a few famous conspiracies surrounding her disappearance.