Bring the chill in­side with top true-crime TV

Here, ready to stream, are some en­gross­ing doc­u­men­taries as well as a satir­i­cal send-up of the gritty genre in mock­u­men­tary form


Ever since the 2014 Se­rial pod­cast and Net­flix’s Mak­ing a Mur­derer in 2015, we’re in the midst of a boom in true crime doc­u­men­tary. Au­di­ences have been cap­ti­vated by sto­ries of un­solved mur­ders, wrong­ful con­vic­tions and ev­ery­thing in be­tween. And with the re­cent de­but of Mak­ing a Mur­derer Part 2, the flood of docs shows no signs of slow­ing down.

If you’ve al­ready de­voured all 10 episodes of Mur­derer Part 2 or are just look­ing for a new mys­tery, here are some great true-crime films and se­ries (and one hi­lar­i­ous par­ody) avail­able to stream.

The Keep­ers

Keep­ers is likely the best true-crime do­cuseries in the re­cent wave and cer­tainly the best one Net­flix has re­leased. Os­ten­si­bly about the 1969 un­solved mur­der of Sis­ter Cathy Ces­nik, a nun and teacher, as in­ves­ti­gated by her former stu­dents, the se­ries is also about how power struc­tures, in­clud­ing lo­cal gov­ern­ments and the Catholic Church, con­spire to hide the truth and keep vic­tims silent. Beyond ex­pos­ing cor­rup­tion, crimes and coverups, Keep­ers stands out be­cause of the care and com­pas­sion with which the cre­ators treat their sub­jects. (Net­flix) Evil Ge­nius: The True Story of Amer­ica’s Most Di­abol­i­cal Bank Heist

If you pre­fer more sub­tle docs that guide — rather than drag — you through the story, Evil Ge­nius is not for you. But if you don’t mind some­thing less art­fully done with a fan­tas­tic story, it’s worth a try. Of all the “stranger than fic­tion” tales, Evil Ge­nius might be the weird­est, chron­i­cling the in­fa­mous 2003 “pizza bomber,” in which a de­liv­ery man in Erie, Penn., robbed a bank with a bomb strapped to his neck, claim­ing he was be­ing forced to do so. (Net­flix)

Wild Wild Coun­try

At first, this 2018 se­ries doesn’t seem like a true-crime saga, but it un­folds into a twisty, con­spir­acy-laden thriller that sur­prises you at ev­ery turn. Coun­tryis an ex­haus­tive look at what hap­pened when a cult (the Ra­jneeshee com­mu­nity) pur­chased a swath of Ore­gon land in the 1980s to cre­ate a utopia. Things went very wrong in the nearby com­mu­nity and within the cult’s own fol­low­ers. (Net­flix) The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of

Robert Durst

Al­though this 2015 HBO se­ries was an early en­trant into the re­cent true-crime wave, it re­mains one of the most re­veal­ing. The se­ries dug into the case of Durst, the black-sheep son of a real-es­tate mogul, sus­pected of killing three peo­ple in a two-decade span. With­out spoil­ing its bomb­shell end­ing, let’s just say that the film­mak­ers were able to re­veal more about their sub­ject than he likely an­tic­i­pated. (Crave)

The Par­adise Lost tril­ogy

One thing that makes Par­adise Lost: The Child Mur­ders at Robin Hood Hills, first film in HBO’s tril­ogy about the West Mem­phis Three, so ef­fec­tive is that it doesn’t take sides but sim­ply acts as the ob­jec­tive voice in a case that didn’t have many: the 1993 Arkansas mur­ders of three young boys and the three teens con­victed of the crimes, sup­pos­edly as part of a Satanic rit­ual. Di­rec­tors Joe Ber­linger and Bruce Si­nof­sky tip the tone more to­ward ad­vo­cacy for the teens’ in­no­cence in the lesser fol­lowups, Par­adise Lost 2: Rev­e­la­tions (2000) and Par­adise Lost 3: Pur­ga­tory (2011), but the story’s happy end­ing makes all three movies must-watches. (Crave)

The Stair­case

Re­leased in three in­stal­ments over the past two decades, The Stair­case pro­vides in­cred­i­bly in­ti­mate ac­cess to Michael Peter­son, a man ac­cused of killing his wife, Kath­leen, in 2001, but who con­tends she died af­ter fall­ing down the stairs. Peter­son is one of the most fas­ci­nat­ing sub­jects, but the am­bigu­ous se­ries, thor­ough as it is, likely won’t con­vince you of ei­ther his guilt or in­no­cence. (Net­flix)

O.J.: Made in Amer­ica

This Os­car and Emmy-win­ning doc­u­men­tary is partly an ex­am­i­na­tion of the mur­ders of Nicole Brown Simp­son and Ron Gold­man, partly a bi­og­ra­phy of O.J. Simp­son and partly a his­tory of race in 20th-cen­tury Amer­ica. The great­est ac­com­plish­ment of O.J. is telling a story we’re all fa­mil­iar with — Simp­son’s rise and fall — while adding some­thing new to the nar­ra­tive. (Crave)


Adoc­u­men­tary blended with dra­matic re­cre­ation, Er­rol Mor­ris pushes the bound­aries of the genre in this 2017 minis­eries while in­ves­ti­gat­ing the the­ory that the CIA tested psy­chotropic drugs on its own em­ploy­ees and then mounted a coverup af­ter ex­per­i­ments went ter­ri­bly wrong. The doc­u­men­tary, com­bined with haunt­ing per­for­mances by Peter Sars­gaard, Molly Parker and Jimmi Simp­son, make Worm­wood as un­set­tling as the ma­te­rial it cov­ers. (Net­flix) Amer­i­can Van­dal It’s not true crime, but if you’re in the mood to have all the hall­marks and idio­syn­cra­sies of the true-crime genre hi­lar- iously and ex­pertly sat­i­rized, en­joy this mock­u­men­tary se­ries that ap­plies the for­mula to high school pranks. The first sea­son, which in­ves­ti­gates who graf­fi­tied teach­ers’ cars with penises, is pure par­ody, but the se­cond, about a se­ries of poop-re­lated crimes, is a deeper ex­am­i­na­tion of the pres­sures of ado­les­cence. (Net­flix)


Sis­ter Cathy Ces­nik, whose un­solved 1969 mur­der is ex­plored in the Net­flix doc­u­men­tary se­ries The Keep­ers, is pic­tured with her fa­ther, Joseph Ces­nik.

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