The 17 Most Intriguing True Crime Documentaries on Netflix to Binge This Week
True crime is a hugely popular genre with a growing fan base (us included) who tune in to the fascinating stories of murder and mystery that transport us out of our real lives and into an investigative state of mind. There's just something so addictive about a real-life crime that makes these spine-tingling documentaries impossible to switch off before finding out all the shocking details and resolving the case. So, set aside the evening and choose from one of the following binge-worthy docos to sink your teeth into.
1. Survivors Guide to Prison
This thought-provoking 2017 film predominantly revolves around two wrongly convicted men, Reggie Cole and Bruce Lisker and the story of their time in prison. Advertised as a "how-to guide" of sorts, Survivors Guide To Prison is narrated by screen legend Susan Sarandon and features interviews with police officers, former inmates, journalists and lawyers that shed light on the unfair injustices of the legal system.
2. Out of Thin Air
Mysterious and chilling in equal parts, this documentary tells the tale of the 1974 disappearance of two men in Iceland. Six individuals were convicted on murder charges, but why does the entire country believe they were wrongfully accused? With the victims' bodies never surfacing and after intense interrogations, are they even guilty? Watch to piece the puzzle together for yourself.
3. Amanda Knox
A case of the wrong place at the wrong time or calculated murder? While studying abroad in Italy, Amanda Knox became an overnight news sensation when her roommate wound up dead in their shared apartment. You'll be on the edge of your seat for the full ninety minutes as her ex-boyfriend and others close to the case reveal their truths.
4. Abducted in Plain Sight
You'll swear this documentary was scripted by Hollywood execs—there's a twist every other minute and you'll wonder how a family let their sociopathic neighbour kidnap their daughter not once, but twice. This gripping story will make you think twice about your own neighbours.
Ted Bundy, a notorious serial murderer, has gained a huge amount of attention in the past year. While the dramatised version of his life starring Zac Efron brought his sorded life into the spotlight, this documentary delves a little deeper, with archival video and audio footage from death row as well as present-day interviews from those involved in the more than thirty murders committed by Bundy.
What began as a pleasant family holiday for the McCanns soon turned into their worst nightmare. The most publicised abduction case in history, three-year-old Madeleine disappeared from her bedroom at a resort in a seaside tourist town in Portugal. There has been numerous television programs and podcasts covering the event, which remains unsolved to this day. Discover all the possible theories in this baffling case.
Another true crime story with a cult following as of late—thanks to a dedicated podcast and series starring our own Eric Bana—the multiple crimes committed by serial predator John Meehan need to be seen to be believed. With never-before-seen interviews from women that Meehan scammed and traumatised, this documentary reveals the real (dirty) truth.
8. The Staircase
When author Michael Peterson calls the police after his wife falls to her death down a flight of stairs, little did he know that his life would be under intense media scrutiny as he himself becomes the prime suspect in the incident. Follow along as the filmmakers gain access to the courtroom, Peterson's family and his defense attorneys.
9. I Am Jane Doe
In 2018, US authorities shut down an online marketplace that had become a corrupt cesspool for buying and selling sex. I Am Jane doe chronicles the real-life stories of young girls who were victims of human trafficking via the site. Narrated by Jessica Chastain, you'll be shocked at just how easy these transactions were in our seemingly safe communities.
10. Audrie & Daisy
Audrie Pott and Daisy Coleman were two teenage girls living in different cities who were both sexually assaulted by boys who they considered to be friends. After enduring such a horrible experience, they're both then subject to relentless backlash online and in their hometowns. This one will tug at your heartstrings, but highlights the importance of education around cyberbullying and social media in this day and age.
Each episode of this docuseries is centred around a convicted murderer on death row as they recount first hand the crimes they're responsible for. It's a new take on the genre, where the question of guilt often lingers unsolved. Here, you'll hear more of the story as these inmates explain the who, why and how of their heinous crimes.
Adapted from John Grisham's only non-fiction book of the same name, this gripping series tells the story of a wrongfully convicted baseball player of rape and murder in 1988. Over ten years later, thanks to advances in DNA technology, he was exonerated of the charges and released as a free man. Archival footage and interviews help to piece together how Ronal Keith was so wrongfully accused.
With just six episodes making up the series, Wild Wild Country is one you won't be able to stop once you start. A truly fascinating subject, tensions flare when a cult leader plans to build his idea of utopia in the desert in Oregon. Met with objections from other nearby locals, violence begins to break out as a result. Add this to your Netflix queue for something different.
If you're familiar with the Hollywood film version of this story, then the extra news footage, interviews and home video recordings will provide you with more straightforward answers. If you're new completely, you'll learn about how a professional wrestler Dave Schultz was murdered by his obsessive coach John du Pont in a weird and hard to believe tale.
From Breaking Bad to Narcos, drug-heavy dramas have become cult hits in the past decade, in part for their mystery and in part for their intense and sometimes brutal dark secrets. Drug Lords is a true telling of notorious leaders from around the world, including Pablo Escobar and El Chapo for example. You'll find out how they ran their drug-toting businesses and the eventual downfall of their illegal empires.
JonBenet Ramsey was a child beauty queen who wound up dead in the basement of her own home on Christmas Day. There have been multiple attempts to tell this story, each more creepy than the last. If we've piqued your interest, then Casting JonBenet should be a priority for your next Netflix session. This certifiably wacky doco shows various people from her hometown auditioning to play her and her family members in a dramatisation of the events. Meanwhile, the actors offer their own speculations and information on the case, which may or may not be hindering the mysterious case entirely.
A certifiable sensation in the true crime genre, Making a Murderer is a must-see. With two parts, this series follows as Steven Avery is charged for sexual assault and murder, exonerated, then subsequently sent to prison for a different murder two years later. What's strange is that Avery's nephew, Brendan Dassey becomes involved and also faces charges relating to the crime, even though we see that he is interrogated in a way that doesn't seem entirely fair. The whole story is chilling and you'll need to make up your mind whether you believe these two men are responsible (and able) to pull off these crimes.
Lead image courtesy of Netflix.