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Netflix is home to a bounty of amazing documentaries, from TV mini-series or full-fledged features, and they're often some of the most interesting around. One of the more approachable and proliferated topics of discussion is, of course, crime as can be seen in their new addition of The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (which I highly recommend, despite it not being a documentary per say). True crime documentaries—and I mean true crime—are hard to come by nowadays, but as you might expect there are an abundance hidden within the deep, dark recesses of the immense Netflix library.
From gazing into such areas as how famous serial killers chose their targets, to the eyeing of suspicious historical contrivances and coverups, the following must-see murder documentaries on Netflix are all the evidences you need for solving the case and understanding its history. Some involve the most notorious criminals of all time, while others seem to invite the audience into questioning the very nature of guilt and innocence.
Biggie & Tupac
Involving two of the most controversial murders from the 1990s while pertaining to two of the biggest rap artists in history, Biggie & Tupac serves not only as a reminder of the hip hop giants, but of their intense rivalry that drew two American coastal cities into a musical contest that reshaped the era and revolutionized the genre.
Though initially friends (Tupac used to sleep on Biggie's couch before moving to LA), the two iconic rap stars' East vs West coast feud seemed to engineer their very fame, yet may have also even led to their very deaths. In Biggie & Tupac, easily one of the best murder documentaries on Netflix, you're getting a taste of music history while unraveling the mysteries still surrounding these two unsolved murder cases.
Aileen: The Life and Death of a Serial Killer
Ending iconically with her last and final statement to the world, Aileen: The Life and Death of a Serial Killer is among the best murder documentaries on Netflix for giving us an inside look at a ruthless murderer and one of the most famous female serial killers.
The documentary portrays an inside look at Aileen Wuornos' evidentiary hearing and her sentencing to death. Portraying mostly the legal side of things and, more or less, undergoing a profile of the killer herself, Aileen is an ethical investigation into one woman's descent into evil. Her last and final statement to the world:
"I'm sailing with the Rock, and I'll be back. Like Independence Day with Jesus, June 6th, like the movie, big mothership and all. I'll be back."
Gaining much praise and a massive following immediately following its release, the story of Amanda Knox soon became a household name in itself. It challenges our views on guiltiness and innocence, while also pitting us in Amanda's own shoes by giving us her most humanistic portrayal. Though it's a depressing story altogether, the Amanda Knox feature is the most real among murder documentaries on Netflix.
Convicted of murdering her college roommate, Amanda's life spiraled into an intense hell of epic proportions, and has since become an activist for those with a wrongful conviction, like hers. The story is tragic and was even covered in a very deep Rolling Stone article, but the highlights are all captured in this extraordinary documentary alone.
Making a Murderer
An innocent man, or cold blooded killer? Making a Murderer is another overnight sensation among the best murder documentaries on Netflix. It's an interesting and, like Amanda Knox, a despairing tale of wrongful conviction turned not-so-wrongful, yet again turned over again as if the authorities were merely guessing (or making it all up).
This is an interesting and controversial tale about our own penal system, detailing in many ways how innocence itself can be shredded to pieces merely by association and misunderstanding. It's still an ongoing series, with season 2 fast approaching in the next few months.
The Investigator: A British Crime Story
This mini-series undergoes an examination of the age-old case involving the murder of Carole Packman and the events that surrounded her father's eventual arrest for her murder, despite no body ever being found. The Investigator: A British Crime Story is one of the most puzzling murder documentaries on Netflix and will have you hungry for more and more answers.
The true crime investigative mini-series is also still ongoing. While the ending of the first season may have come under fire, it's still an incredibly interesting and eerie story involving family, love, and the depths of despair. It's also one of the few shows to truly capture 1970s British lifestyle while painting a true story of brutal murder.
Who Took Johnny
Released back in 2014, Who Took Johnny is an eccentric addition among the best murder documentaries on Netflix, for it depicts the tragedy of missing persons' case from 1982 involving the disappearance of Johnny Gosch. The documentary mostly follows the mother in her decades-long quest to unlock the secrets behind her sons' long absence.
Compelling as it is heartbreaking, Who Took Johnny is masterfully-filmed, rendering the complete story into a multitude of contexts, rather than simply solidifying the mother's views. She later claimed that Johnny had visited her in 1997, stating that he supposedly broke free from his kidnappers, though little of this can be deemed accurate.
Into the Abyss
Into the Abyss is a different kind of compelling story, this time dedicated to the various intricacies and controversies surrounding capital punishment, and how we treat criminals entirely. Though it may be somewhat explicit for the portrayal of 2 triple homicide inmates and their sentencing to death, Into the Abyss is more of an unlikely retrospective on life and the concepts we live by in connotation to justice and incarceration.
The New York Times review is enough to invite Into the Abyss among the best murder documentaries on Netflix, but it's not for everyone. There's a lot to take away from this movie, for it examines deep and dark concepts about ourselves, as well as those we likely see as criminal.
The Keepers has an eerie enough main photograph, which is shown above, but the underscored investigation itself is something of nightmares. Telling the unsolved murder case of Sister Cathy Casenik, this addition is among the truest and most real life murder documentaries on Netflix.
Over the coarse of seven episodes, The Keepers is something of an exploration into the mystery of theological belief, mixed with the intricacies surrounding this poor woman's untimely demise. It even received some backlash for somewhat pointing fingers at Father Joseph Maskell concerning child abuse and sexual assault, but no evidence accurately proves this (though, wide speculation of the priest invites more than enough suspicion).
The Confession Tapes
Following, once again, a variety of cases involving wrongful convictions that had stemmed from forced or simply false confessions, The Confession Tapes proves to be one of the most convincing murder documentaries on Netflix. The 7 episode series examines 7 different individuals who were incarcerated for crimes they confessed to, yet did not commit.
These are also a despairing group of tales, which all outline how the penal system in America is, quite frankly, somewhat skewed. Given that the show was released only just last year, it would come as no surprise that quite many more individuals are out there facing the exact same issue; wrongful conviction.
An extremely dark and otherwise detailed discussion of the life of Dave Shultz and his murder, Team Foxcatcher is probably the most gritty of murder documentaries on Netflix. The story also digs deep into the tragic downward spiral of John du Pont's mental capacity and the overall degradation of his mind, which led to his eventual shooting of the Olympic wrestler.
The entire story itself is an overall spiral that is, again, not for all audiences. The events that took place on January 26th, 1996 may never quite be explained, but the overall understanding belied by the tragedy is in memory of a true and happy spirit, who also remains one of the most prominent Olympic athletes, Dave Shultz.
With William Genovese narrating this investigatory tell-all into the killing of his sister, The Witness instantly becomes deemed a classic among the canals of murder documentaries on Netflix. Outlining with expert detail the events and aftermath of his sister's murder, William Genovese draws viewers into his mind and emotion in the midst of a family tragedy.
It was among the fourteen shortlisted documentaries in the 89th Academy Awards for Best Documentary Feature, a feat only a truly mesmerizing true crime tale can ascertain. In his search for the ultimate truth surrounding his sister's killing, I find that The Witness is enough evidence that William "Bill" Genovese has finally made peace with his ultimate findings.