7 Of The Best True Crime Documentaries To Watch After You've Finished Making A Murderer 2
By Katie Rosseinsky Posted on 13 Jan 2016
So you’ve worked your way through the second season of Netflix’s Making A Murderer, and you’re now in search of a new true crime documentary that’ll have you gripped for hours on end. Luckily, thanks to the success of the aforementioned hit, a whole host of quality shows investigating everything from murders and cold cases to cults, heists and various other real-life conspiracies are in plentiful supply on the streaming platform (God bless the Netflix algorithm, we guess…) From The Keepers to The Staircase and beyond, these are some of the best: the ones that’ll have you cancelling all social obligations (and frantically Wikipedia-ing all the major players late into the night) so that you can race to the end and finally get some answers…
The Best True Crime Documentaries On Netflix…
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Billed upon its 2017 release as Netflix’s most ambitious docuseries to date, The Keepers is a gripping seven-part investigation into a troubling cold case: the unsolved murder of a Baltimore nun, Sister Cathy Cesnik. Initially focusing on the suspicious death of this beloved English teacher, the series moves away from being a typical ‘whodunnit’ and seeks to uncover the truth about decades-long allegations of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church - and the systematic corruption that allowed it to remain covered up for so long. Think Making a Murderer meets Spotlight.
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In 2001, the novelist Michael Peterson called 911 to report that his wife Kathleen was dead, having fallen down the stairs of their North Carolina home and hit her head. There were major gaps in his story, however, and Peterson was quickly charged with murder. First broadcast on French television in 2004, The Staircase tracks each (progressively stranger) plot twist in the court case that followed, with filmmaker Jean-Xavier de Lestrade gaining extensive access to the Peterson family, and to the lawyers working on the case. This year, de Lestrade re-packaged the original documentary with its follow-up episodes, including three exclusive installments following Peterson in the present day, all available on Netflix.
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Wild Wild Country
What is it about cults? From the success of Emma Cline’s The Girls to the slew of pending films that’ll examine the Manson murders (of which Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood looks set to be the most star-studded, with Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate), these groups are clearly a subject of widespread fascination. It was only ever a matter of time, then, that a Netflix true crime show would take one on as its subject. Wild Wild Country tracks the rise and fall of the Rajneeshpuram group headed up by Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, a bizarre story that encompasses everything from a thwarted poisoning attack on a small town to attempted murder and FBI involvement.
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The truth is stranger than fiction, as Netflix’s utterly bizarre Evil Genius: The True Story Of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist proves, and luckily that makes for excellent true crime fodder. The four-part series opens with the 2003 ‘pizza bomber’ case of delivery driver Brian Wells, who walked into a Pennsylvania bank with a bomb strapped around his neck, demanding $250,000. When the police apprehended him, the bomb went off, killing him instantly. Evil Genius follows the investigation into Wells’ death, which becomes a spider’s web of murder, jealousy and revenge, with one woman, Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, at its heart.
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The Thin Blue Line
Often heralded as the original – and still the best - true crime documentary, The Thin Blue Line is the stand-out 1988 film from Oscar-winning filmmaker Errol Morris. It probes the investigation into the case of Randall Dale Adams, who was convicted of the murder of police officer Robert Wood and sentenced to death in Texas. However, a number of major question marks hung over Adams’ guilt: when Morris, who formerly worked as a private detective, learned of the case, he was fascinated, and began compiling interviews with key witness and filming re-enactments. Just don’t Google this one beforehand, because the film’s aftermath is one of the many reasons as to why it has proved so enduring…
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A six-part series from true crime pioneer and director of The Thin Blue Line, Errol Morris, Wormwood explores the mysterious death of US scientist Frank Olson in 1953. Olson, who had been involved in secret CIA experiments using LSD, fell out of a window of New York’s Statler Hotel, but was it a genuine accident, suicide or an assassination? That’s the question which Wormwood seeks to answer, mixing documentary footage with re-enacted scenes (featuring Peter Sarsgaard and Molly Parker).
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The Confession Tapes
Each of The Confession Tapes’ six episodes delves in to a different murder case, asking how false or forced confessions might have led to a suspect’s wrongful conviction (just as is believed to have happened in Brendan Dassey’s case in Making a Murderer). The series asks why people confess to crimes they didn’t commit (a phenomena that’s more common that you might think) and, in doing so, raises questions about the viability of the criminal justice system (in these cases, in the United States).
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