Why are we so obsessed with true crime documentaries? Is it because we’re somewhat strange or that we love to fear what monsters hide in the shadows or beneath our beds? Or is it simply because these documentaries are just so captivatingly good. But, what we’ve learnt from watching so many of these true crime documentaries is that nothing is ever simple; oh, and that you should never open your mouth without a lawyer present.
So, with this in mind, we thought we’d count down eleven true crime documentaries that you need to watch now.
Making a Murderer (2015)
Laura Ricciardi and Moria Demos’ Making a Murderer is the granddaddy, the forerunner of today’s true crime obsession. The docuseries narrates the story of Steven Avery, a man from Wisconsin who served 18 years in prison for a crime he (supposedly) did not commit.
The jewel in televisions true crime crown, Making a Murderer is enchantingly good to say the least.
The Staircase (2018)
The Staircase, a docuseries by filmmaker Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, is often held up as one of the best true crime documentaries ever made. Lestrade never tries to solve the case, but rather examines how the criminal justice system treats the protagonist – Michael Peterson.
This noir masterpiece epitomises everything we love about true crime documentaries.
We know that Mindhunter isn’t a true crime documentary. What it is, however, is one of the most intense, accurately portrayed crime dramas ever created.
Based on the book: Mindhunter: Inside the Federal Bureau’s Special Crime Unit, Mindhunter (2017) revolves around the creation of the behavioural science unit.
The interviews’ with infamous “serial murderers” yield what can only be described as one of the most intense scenes ever between Holden Ford and Edmund Kemper.
The Confession Tapes (2017)
Sarah Loudenberg’s The Confession Tapes is an indictment of America’s criminal justice system, the trust we put in law enforcement, and the reasons why people confess to crimes they didn’t commit.
This isn’t similar to any of the other true crime documentaries on our countdown as most of the criminals aren’t even criminals, some of them weren’t even in the country when their crimes were committed.
What makes The Confession Tapes so hard to watch is exactly why you should watch it; we did warn you that nothing is ever simple in the world of true crime documentaries.
The Seven Five (2014)
Former NYPD policeman Michael Dowd recounts how he and his partner ran their own cocaine cartel while working in New York during the 1980s and early 90s. Dowd’s conviction in 1992 led to one of the largest police corruption scandals in NYPD history.
The Seven Five is 104 minutes of jaw-dropping action and deserving of high praise indeed.
Louis Theroux: Miami Mega Jail (2011)
Louis Theroux is the godfather of documentary making. And, as always, he shows everyone how it’s done in this true crime documentary.
Louis tackles this sensitive subject, and the interviewees and inmates he meets, with his usual concoction of empathy, genuine interest and awkwardness that makes him the best at what he does.
Theroux’s readiness to report on the dark underside of American culture makes Miami Mega Jail stick out above not only the spew of Louis Theroux documentaries, but also the numerous true crime documentaries that run aground when endeavouring to imitate his unique style.
Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes (2019)
The Ted Bundy Tapes take a look inside the mind of murderer Ted Bundy, featuring interviews with him on death row.
One of the newest and best true crime documentaries on our countdown, Jon Doran’s docuseries coincides with the announcement of Extremely Wicked, shockingly Evil, and Vile – a Zac Efron biopic that didn’t feature on our countdown of the most anticipated movies of 2019, but we’re starting to think it should have done.
You almost certainly won’t be sleeping much once you’ve watched this formidable docuseries.
Manhunt: Unabomber (2017)
As with Mindhunter, Manhunt: Unabomber shouldn’t be on our countdown of the best true crime documentaries, however, as with Mindhunter, it’s too good not to include.
Andrew Sodroski’s drama miniseries depicts a fictionalised account of the FBI’s hunt for the Unabomber and is true crime at its captivating peak.
Team Foxcatcher (2016)
Recounting the downward spiral of John Du Pont, Team Foxcatcher is absolutely astonishing and extremely fearsome in equal measure.
With the grace and panache of a murder mystery novel, Team Foxcatcher is a must watch for those who love true crime documentaries.
The Witness (2015)
James D. Solomon’s directorial debut is outstanding and superb, shocking and alarming, and therefore making it a must watch.
The Witness pioneered a new wave of true crime documentaries – recounting a murder from the perspective of 38 witnesses.
The Witness, therefore, is the epitome of bingeworthy.
The Keepers (2017)
In mood, theme, tone, and content, The Keepers is everything you’d expect from a true crime documentary. That’s it: watch, tremble and bask in the true crime seesaw of emotion that is The Keepers.
Get everyone together and binge watch one of the amazing true crime documentaries above in some our awesome movie-themed rooms. Come and join us, we’d love to hear from you today to organise a superb stay at Arthouse in 2019.