True crime is as popular a genre as it's ever been, whether you're after a documentary, drama, limited series or even a podcast. This is driven by a fascination with the macabre and audiences’ growing need to learn even the finest details in the content that we watch. There’s even an element of voyeurism that audiences all over the world experiences, engrossing ourselves in true crime that we’d never have a part of in the real world.
Content makers and distributors are well aware of this trend, and in response, have ramped up production on some of the most brutal, interesting or unbelievable stories about crimes that they can get their hands on. Leading that pack is everyone's favourite streaming service, Netflix. If you're a genre fan, here are some must-watches for you.
10 When They See Us
The documentary The Central Park Five came out in 2012 and tells the story of five teenagers who were wrongly arrested, found guilty, sentenced and served prison time for the brutal rape of a woman in Central Park.
Limited series When They See Us was written and directed by Ava Duvernay, a drama about the same case. It really highlights the human impact of New York City's mistakes in the case, and to say it’s heart-breaking is an understatement. If you go into this without knowing the outcome, it's truly gripping. But even if you know about the case, the brilliantly-executed style and incredibly high production values of the series helps it brings to light the incredibly one-sided treatment of these boys and is so worth everyone's time.
9 Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes
The macabre aspect of true crime doesn't get much more macabre than one of the most notorious serial killers in history. And what better way to learn about how the mind of a killer works than by hearing it straight from the horse's mouth.
The Ted Bundy Tapes is engaging for a very different reason to lots of true crimes series because it's not about what happened; most people already know that. The series is much more of an exploration of the now-infamous man behind the horrific events and the ways in which his mind works.
8 American Crime Story: The People Vs. OJ Simpson
The American Crime Story anthology has two series under its belt, with the first focusing of the double murder of Nicole Brown and her partner Ron Goldman and the subsequent trial of then football star OJ Simpson.
Mostly a courtroom drama, The People vs. OJ Simpson does a brilliant job of putting into perspective what the trial meant in the media at that time, and the racial undertones that played such a big role in the case. Much more than some of the more grisly series, this one is incredibly easy to binge in one sitting - if you’ve got the time.
7 Making A Murderer
The first series of Making a Murderer has to be one of the most watched series on Netflix - and for good reason. But if you aren't one of the millions that were enthralled by the series, stop what you're doing and go and watch it now.
The second series seems a lot more like an appendix at the end of a book rather than something that brings anything else to case. But it's a really interesting explanation and exploration of how the legal system can be challenged by those wrongly convicted and well worth the time.
6 The Legend of Cocaine Island
A documentary with a really unique composition, this Netflix original is the unbelievable story of a guy that goes after a stash of cocaine supposedly buried on a Caribbean island.
It starts with someone telling the story of this well-gossiped-about stash and ends with a completely bonkers string of events, all narrated by the guy at the heart of the story. What makes it unique is the way he also stars in the re-enactment of the journey he took to the island, in the absence of any documentary footage.
5 Dirty John: The Dirty Truth
A documentary that accompanies this year’s Dirty John which starred Connie Britton and Eric Bana as the titular John, this is a crazy story of love and lies that gets stranger the longer it goes on.
The story of John Meehan and an online date that spirals into a whirlwind of deception, Dirty John: The Dirty Truth puts on screen the story that was originally told on a true crime podcast series of the same name. You know it’s an engaging, unbelievable story when it gets the small screen treatment twice.
4 Abducted In Plain Sight
Every so often, a story comes along that’s so completely unbelievable that you’d think it was a myth if you weren’t watching it in a documentary. Abducted In Plain Sight is one of those stories; a tale about a family taken in by a friend who would steal their daughter away.
It starts out in a way we’ve seen before in a documentary: the main antagonist is a sly con-man that lets him get into the inner circle of the family at the centre of the story. But then the story takes a turn and the parents of the family are so taken in by this man that he gets away with unspeakable things without any repercussions.
3 Manhunt: The Unabomber
One of the best crime dramas on Netflix, Manhunt: The Unabomber sees Sam Worthington star as Jim Fitzgerald, the FBI profiler responsible for bringing down the famous Unabomber. And much more than a retelling of the bombings, it details the forensic linguistics that Fitz developed - without much support from the FBI - in order to find out who the Unabomber was.
Manhunt is an incredibly well-made series. It’s cinematic and dramatic, but still goes into loads of detail about how the crime was solved. This is without a doubt one of the best series available to watch.
2 Murder Mountain
Another documentary series, Murder Mountain’s not really about murder. This series is a dark look at the marajuana business in northern California, the people that work in it and, most importantly, the people that have gone missing in Humboldt County since the area’s weed-growing business has been booming.
The place that the series centres around is named Murder Mountain after James and Suzan Carson; serial killers who lived in the area the early 1980s. It’s a deliberately-paced, sombre-feeling series that look goods great and paints a very different picture of California to what’s usually seen in TV and movies.
1 Team Foxcatcher
This documentary is the non-fiction telling of the story at the heart of the Steve Carrell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo movie Foxcatcher from 2014. In it, documentary film-maker Jon Greenhalgh looks at athlete Dave Schultz and his role as the star of 'Team Foxcatcher,' a professional wrestling team funded by multi-millionaire John du Pont and the strange turn that the team’s owner took.
When a story has this much intrigue to it, the dramatised movie version almost doesn’t need to be made. The story of Team Foxcatcher is an incredibly strange one and should be at the top of anyone’s list if you like sports films or crime stories.