Love yourself some true crime? Here are the Netflix shows you need to watch
Now, since it has to compete with all the other streaming and producing platforms that are out there now, Netflix has expanded its inventory.
You’ll have seen one or two Netflix Originals – Stranger Things, Sex Education, Bridgerton – but this guide is for the crime lovers amongst us (obvs not literally).
But crime docuseries have seen a huge boost in popularity over the last few years, and Netflix is here to capitalise. Subscribers now have so much at our fingertips, meaning we can follow all of the investigations, delve into those unsolved mysteries and experience the very worst of mankind, all from the comfort of our sofas (with the doors firmly locked).
So, follow me down this path of depravity…
Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer
A fascinating and horrifying story exploring the path of a serial killer terrorising Los Angeles and San Francisco in 1984-85 (as part of a 30-year span dubbed the ‘golden age’ of serial murder in the US).
Serial killers aren’t new at this point, and it was understood that they chose their victims in some sort of pattern. However, this new spree of murders had very few things in common, except that it seemed the murderer just chose randomly without much planning involved. As well as ‘Night Stalker, he was also dubbed the ‘Walk-in Murderer’.
With interviews conducted with journalists and police involved in the case, as well as crime scene photos and evidence, you get to follow the investigation as it unfolds.Watch now
Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel
Sorry, did I come on a bit strong there? Night Stalker might be a bit too much too soon if you’re not sure about crime documentaries yet, but I bet this one will intrigue you. Suspiciously also based in Los Angeles – this time in 2013 – this series looks into the disappearance of a 21-year-old woman, Elisa Lam, from Vancouver in British Columbia, CA.
Also supported with interviews, clips, and even the musings of our victim, via her tumblr account, the series follows Elisa’s story and the investigation into her disappearance. Like another favourite of ours (which we’ll talk about later), this one involves internet sleuths making sure their voices are heard.
There’s also a mysterious videotape of Elisa acting very strangely in an elevator, suddenly vanishing with no trace… And trust us – the twists and turns keep coming.Watch now
Unabomber – In His Own Words
How do you catch a twisted genius who aspires to be the perfect, anonymous killer – building untraceable bombs and delivering them to random targets? That was the seemingly impossible challenge facing the FBI before a big break in the case came in 1995.
Luckily for us, Netflix actually has two Unabomber specials for us to delve into Manhunt: Unabomber, and Unabomber – In His Own Words. The former isn’t a documentary, but it is a dramatic retelling of the events of 1995, as a new profiler joins the FBI team.
We’d recommend watching the docuseries (Unabomber – In His Own Words) first, just because it’s the more factual version of events – and even features a rare interview with the man himself. The first-hand interviews throughout lend a different perspective to this docuseries and there’s a lot of background information to pick at too.
What we’ve taken away from it all? To check our parcels a little more carefully in future…Watch now
Now this one is different entirely, but also very much worth a watch. Flint Town follows a local police force – that of Flint Town, near Detroit, Michigan, US. We get to know a few of the officers and experience their struggles against a serious water crisis, lack of funding and an understaffed department.
Having been in a state of financial emergency twice and now ranked among the US’ most dangerous cities, Flint’s officers have a tough job.
From the end of 2015 to the start of 2017, we watch them deal with crime in their own town, against the backdrop of increased media scrutiny following other forces’ involvement in the shootings of black men and hear about their own experiences with the struggles of racism and the police.Watch now
Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes
Again, we’re looking at interview clips with a killer themselves here – combined with some clips from law enforcement, family, and other relevant people in this specific case. But it’s hard not to watch.
Bundy’s crimes are infamous; he’s the height of depravity, with a chameleon-like ability to fit in with society. It pains us to know that writing this and watching the documentary is giving him exactly what he wanted, but it’s riveting.
Bundy killed a series of young women – admitting to around 30 in the end – and he also managed to escape jail…. twice. He committed appalling acts and evaded the law for too long. Watching this also makes you appreciate just how far we’ve come in the world of catching criminals – who knows how much faster the police could have tracked Bundy down with the DNA detection they now have available?Watch now
Trial By Media
With a more modern perspective, we’re able to see with this series that, while modern technology is more effective for crime-solving, that technology also brings with it a new wave of media.
Trial By Media follows cases between the 1980s to the 2000s – cases where the outcome (it could be argued) was affected by the media coverage surrounding the case. From a man admitting feelings for a straight friend on-air on The Jenny Jones Show – leading to events at home with devastating consequences – to a woman who faces the scary side of taking a rape accusation to court after her identity is publicised, and the case examined in the mass media.
It’s a worrying but fascinating view into the flip-side of the press, the early days of mass accusations and the availability of information we have now at the touch of a button.Watch now
Don’t F**K with Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer
Now, this is another level completely. This is high on our list of ‘worth watching’ – but it’s listed last here because it stands apart from the others.
Don’t F**k With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer doesn’t really involve the police but, nevertheless, is centred around very real and very unsettling crimes. How? Well, the series is all about ‘crowd-sourced investigations’, following the work of amateur sleuths.
It begins with a viral video from 2010, which depicts horrible animal abuse on two kittens. Two internet sleuths join forces to investigate the video and find out as much information as they can. Soon, they’re joined by many, many more. Another video comes out – and our sleuths up their game.
Genuinely fascinating to see the lengths people can go to online to find out a person’s identity… but horrifying to see exactly what some others are capable of.Watch now