Choose your sentence wisely
So youve just spent ten hours in true crime-induced angst and have no idea what to do with yourself now that Making A Murderer has finished. Its ok, I understand your pain but what to do next? A march on the US Supreme Court just doesnt seem practical and its cold out there.
Its time for more crime documentaries and the good news is that most of these can currently be found streaming on Netflix. I know its a little dark but theres no need to feel guilty about wanting to watch more. Its part of the human condition. As they say, fact is far stranger than fiction and what lies ahead and in the video below is very, very strange... aaaannd really quite disturbing. Good luck. And perhaps lock your door if you havent already.
Image credit: Netflix
The least said about this documentary film the better as its far better to go in cold, but Cropsey tells the tale of a New York urban legend and combines it with the very real case of the murder of a young girl. The doc goes into the disturbing cases of further missing children in the area and the subsequent arrest of a local man. Its a fascinating look into the creation of a real life boogeyman but reassuringly never glorifies the tragic case and its effect on the community. An incredible insight into the way we react to such horrific situations and spin even worse stories around them.
Image credit: Antidote Films
The Imposter (2012)
More fuel to add to the fact is stranger than fiction pile, The Imposter introduces you to Frenchman Frederic Bourdin who pretended to be the kidnapped son of a Texan family. Bourdin not only managed to convince officials that he was the grown version of the missing 13 year old boy - complete with over the top story about kidnapping by the military - but also, staggeringly, apparently some members of the boys family. Theres more to this documentary than first meets the eye but Bourdins lies have to be seen to be believed and make for a jaw-dropping hour and a half.
Image credit: Picturehouse Entertainment
Jonestown: Paradise Lost (2007)
Theres no way to get around how disturbing this TV movie documentary really is. An understandable inspiration for a number of horror film - including the recent The Sacrament from Ti West - this is the terrifying story of American cult leader Jim Jones who led his congregation of 918 people to mass suicide. Yep, told you it was grim. The combination of documentary and recreated drama makes for horribly compelling viewing and no matter how prepared you are for the ending, youre really, really not. Perhaps create a playlist of cartoons to recover.
Image credit: History Channel
West Of Memphis (2012)
Get ready for Making A Murderer all over again. In 1994, three Arkansas teenagers were found guilty of the murders of three boys. The killings were allegedly part of a Satanic ritual and the fanfare at the trial apparently left no room for any doubt. Two of the teenagers were sentenced to life imprisonment and one to death. Notice the words and allegedly and apparently and of course theres plenty of doubt. Thankfully a vocal group of protesters - including Lord Of The Rings director Peter Jackson and and screenwriter Fran Walsh - lobbied for the case to be re-examined. This is an incredibly thorough dissection of the full case with interviews with everyone who matters. Incredible and galling stuff.
Image credit: Sony Pictures Classics
True crime doesnt get much stranger than this Errol Morris doc about the 1970s Miss Wyoming, Joyce McKinney, who allegedly abducted US Mormon missionary Kirk Anderson and took him to Devon where he was the victim of sexual assault. The case was a tabloid sensation in the UK and this documentary attempts to tell the true story behind the insane headlines. The access might be unrivalled but McKinney has since filed a lawsuit claiming that she was unaware of the content of the documentary and thought it was about the evils of the paparazzi and not the events themselves. An interesting one to add to the list of bizarre crimes and the way the media twists a story to sell papers.
Image credit: Sundance Selects
Ready to be suitably shocked and appalled by what the internet does to human beings? Think Catfish and add a helping of cold blooded murder and youre on the right lines for this doc. Talhotblond is the online user name of 18-year-old Jessi who talks to a man who she thinks is an 18-year-old US marine. In fact, hes 46 and married with children. What follows is a tale of deception and murder so hideous that youll probably want to throw your broadband router out of the window. Theres a questionable use of narration at points but very little can take away from the lack of humanity on show.
Image credit: Paramount
Aileen: The Life & Death Of A Serial Killer (2003)
Nick Broomfields film remains the key real story of serial killer Aileen Wuornos. It follows up from his original 1992 documentary on Wuornos and is a depressing trip into her psyche before she was executed in 2002. Despite being evaluated to be of sound mind by the Florida Justice System, Broomfields questioning showed she was convinced she was being tortured within her cell using sound waves. The majority of the film shows appeals to get the death sentence overturned and is another frustrating experience of a system that seems entirely weighted on the wrong side of the scales.
Image credit: Nick Broomfield
Killer Legends (2014)
Ever hear about the teenagers being stalked by the man with a hook for a hand? Or the killer clowns abducting children from a while van? What about the call coming from inside the house? Of course you have. Urban legends haunt our childhoods from an early age and have been immortalised in modern horror movies, but where do they actually come from? From the same documentary makers as Cropsey, Killer Legends delves into the disturbing cases that actually inspired our campfire tales. While your sisters friends little sister probably didnt find a razorblade in her Halloween chocolate, someone, somewhere just might have.
Image credit: Gravitas Ventures
The Central Park Five (2012)
This infamous case of the rape of a New York jogger in 1989 shows yet again how truly fallible the US court system can be. Five black and Latino teenagers were arrested and imprisoned for the attack despite individually denying any involvement. Only the discovery of DNA evidence and a genuine confession from a serial rapist cleared their names after they spent years in jail. The Central Park Five is yet another Making A Murderer-style fury fest thatll have you wondering how many more innocent people are behind bars while the guilty run free.
Image credit: Sundance Selects
Bonus listening - podcasts
If you need to your true crime fix on the move, look no further than these podcasts. The much lauded Serial thankfully isnt just an empty hype train. Hosted by Sarah Koenig, the first season covers the complicated case of the murder of teenager Hae Min Lee. Lees ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed was arrested and imprisoned for the murder despite a number of factors muddying an already complex case and his continued protest of innocence. Serial takes 12 hour long episodes to go over the case and its a fascinating listen. Its now onto its second season which is covering the case of US soldier Bowe Bergdahl who walked off his post in Afghanistan and was captured by Taliban forces.
A little more dramatic (and often exceptionally disturbing) is the Sword & Scale podcast which tackles a new crime every two weeks. Be warned however, its emergency call recordings and in depth reporting isnt for the faint of heart. Both are available on iTunes.
Image credit: Serial