30 June 2022

Lazy day vibes? The most gripping true crime documentaries to stream in 2022

From unspeakable crimes to unholy cults, embrace your dark side with these terrifyingly real true crime docs.

Why is it that we’re so obsessed with the darker side of the human psyche? No matter how afraid these horrifying stories make us, we just can’t stop forcing them down our throats every time a new one is announced. So, now it’s time to embrace your dark side, hide under your sheets and run through our best true crime documentaries. 

Our Father

Our Father follows the sickening story of Donald Cline, a fertility specialist who used his own sperm to impregnate women who came to him for fertility assistance. Throughout his career, he fathered more than 50 children, all while the Mothers and Children were unaware of who the true biological father was. Our Father focuses on the women and children he deceived who are left to deal with the deep psychological pain he’d caused them.

Making a Murderer

It may seem like a bit of a cheap shot including this considering how truly massive it was, but its influence is undeniable. After spending nearly two decades in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, a Wisconsin man is released and exonerated. But two years later, he’s accused of the murder of a young woman. When a local teen is drawn into the story, Making a Murder becomes a bleak look into the ways America’s criminal justice system works—and the ways it doesn’t work at all.

Abducted In Plain Sight

In ’70s-era Idaho, members of a naïve, church-going family fall for the devious charm of their neighbour, Robert Berchtold, who seems overly interested in 12-year-old daughter Jan. Berchtold convinces Jan’s parents to allow her to spend disturbing amounts of time with him, eventually abducting her not once, but twice. It’s a shocking example of how easily grooming and manipulation can take place. Some of the events that take place in the doc have to be seen to be believed

The Devil Next Door

After the end of the Second World War, a handful of Nazi commanders managed to escape prosecution at the Nuremberg Trials, where they would surely face execution for crimes against humanity. But could there actually be a Nazi living next door? An unassuming grandfather from Cleveland faces extradition to Israel when he’s accused of being the infamous death camp guard Ivan Demjanjuk, also known as Ivan the Terrible.

Keep sweet: Pray & Obey

Netflix’s latest true-crime series, Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey, digs into the untold story of Warren Jeffs. And while he may not have the notoriety of some more recognisable cult leaders his acts are still just as disturbing. Jeffs has become infamous in the states for his Texas-based religious cult, which is fuelled by bigamy, abuse and paedophelia.

Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist

Just after 2:30pm on August 28, 2003, a man quietly walked into a bank in Erie, Pennsylvania. He looked to have something large positioned around his neck and demanded $250,000 or the bomb around his neck would explode. The man — later found to be named Brian Wells — was handcuffed, but just three minutes before the bomb squad arrived, the device detonated, killing him instantly. On his corpse were nine pages of handwritten clues to a treasure hunt that led investigators down a rabbit hole.

American Murder: The Family Next Door

In 2018, Chris Watts murdered his pregnant wife Shannon and their two daughters, Celeste and Bella. The heinous crime dominated headlines and tabloids, but this docuseries gives us a more personal look into the Watts family. American Murder strips away the suburban façade and retraces the victims’ final moments through home security footage and personal text messages. 

Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal

Getting into college in the United States is always a gruelling uphill battle, but what if there was someone you could pay to make that a little easier for you? In 2019, some well-off parents of college applicants were accused of funnelling bribes to college officials and paying to inflate entrance exam test scores. The FBI investigation into this criminal conspiracy was known as Operation Varsity Blues, and this documentary looks into all the details.

Jeffery Epstein Filthy Rich 

The crimes of sex offender Jeffrey Epstein are laid bare in this miniseries — how he used his wealth and influence to manipulate and abuse countless young women and girls. The infuriating part is how many survivors had to speak out before any action was taken against him, and why earlier allegations of molestation went largely ignored. Many survivors speak publicly for the first time about their experiences with this modern-day monster. It provided a harrowing explanation as to why victims sometimes don’t come forward.

The Keepers

his riveting seven-part series exposes the lengths to which the Catholic Church will go to conceal sexual abuse within its ranks. Sister Catherine Cesnik of the Archbishop Keough High School in Baltimore is someone students often confide in. When she disappears and is later found dead, it calls into question whether members of this religious institution are capable of murder.

Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes

Archival footage and audio recordings of interviews with serial killer and rapist Ted Bundy, made while on death row before his execution in 1989. Over 100 hours of interviews were used to create this four-part series, in which the “highly intelligent” Bundy analyses his own life and motives.

Strong Island 

In 1992, Yance Ford’s brother William, an African-American teacher, is killed by a white teenager. When the killer faces trial for manslaughter, an all-white jury accepts his claim of self-defense and declines to indict him. Director Yance investigates the death of his brother, not so much on a mission to uncover evidence of guilt, but to explore enduring racial bias and examine how grief ties in with historical injustice. The film was nominated for an Oscar in 2018, making Ford the first transgender director to be nominated for any Academy Award.

  • Writer Chris Saunders

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