Netflix has been the deliverer of a variety of great shows, but there’s none quite like the series and films in the streaming giant’s true crime genre. In fact, Netflix’s murder documentaries have become even more popular in recent years thanks to 2015’s Making a Murderer. So…with all the choices out there, we have put together a list of 11 docuseries or films you have to stream on Netflix ASAP.
When it comes to real-life murder mysteries, there’s no shortage of unsolved crimes in America’s history. There’s no explaining it, but there’s something about unsolved murders and crime stories that gets everyone’s attention.
There’s nothing entertaining about the horrific stories told in the documentaries, But there’s something about them that keeps people coming for more.
So, if you’re interested in learning about the Netflix murder documentaries that you need to be watching, then check out our list below.
1. Making a Murderer (2015)
Netflix struck crime buff gold with the Making a Murderer doc-series. That’s why it’s first on our Netflix murder documentaries list.
If you haven’t seen it, what are you waiting for?!
The series follows Steven Avery over a period of 10 years in rural Manitowoc County, Wisconsin. Avery had been in prison for 18 years on what turned out to be a wrongful rape conviction. But, not long after he was freed, he was quickly a prime suspect in a murder case.
Making a Murderer exposes potential corruption in law enforcement. It explores a broken justice system allegedly functioning on petty grudges and careless behavior. Many consider the convictions of Avery and his nephew, Brendan Dassey, in the murder of Teresa Halbach to be a major injustice. Others are not so sure.
Note that the highly anticipated second season, Convicting a Murderer, is in production. So now’s a good time to binge-watch season one to get up to date!
Directed by: Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi
Duration: 14 episodes, 60 minutes each
IMDb Rating: 8.7/10, but we wouldn’t argue with a perfect score either. Be prepared for an emotional roller coaster. In 2016, it won four Primetime Emmy Awards. And it’s won or has been nominated for a slew of other awards.
2. Casting JonBenet (2017)
This documentary film isn’t quite like the others. For one thing, the people being interviewed in it don’t know the true story behind the questions they’re being asked.
Casting JonBenet delves into the death of six-year-old beauty pageant star JonBenét Ramsey, who was murdered in her hometown of Colorado. It’s still the country’s most sensational—and mysterious—child murder case.
In this documentary film, residents of JonBenét’s hometown are being auditioned for what they think is a role in a film based on the late beauty queen’s life. It purposely doesn’t answer any questions, but does allow an inside look at what neighbors thought at the time, including the theory that her brother could have killed her.
Directed by: Kitty Green
Duration: 80 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.2/10, so it’s worth watching. Especially if you want a different way of looking at the JonBenét mystery. The film has won two AACTA awards and was nominee for the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize.
3. Amanda Knox (2016)
Whether you follow true crime stories or not, you might remember this case. It was only in 2015 that the Supreme Court of Italy finally dismissed the murder case against Amanda Knox.
This Netflix documentary film follows a convicted American foreign exchange student in Italy who was released after appeals. Knox and those closest to her retell the story of the murder of Meredith Kercher in 2007.
Directed by: Rod Blackhurst and Brian McGinn
Duration: 92 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7/10; plus it’s been nominated for two Primetime Emmys and multiple other awards. If you’ve ever traveled to another country, you should hunker down and watch Amanda Knox. It’s the kind of story that could happen to anybody.
4. Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer (2003)
This documentary is based on the true story that inspired Charlize Theron’s Oscar-winning role in Monster (2003), centered on the life of Aileen Carol Wuornos. She was a prostitute who was executed in 2002 for murdering six men in Florida. It includes interviews with the convicted murderer herself, who claimed self-defense in her crimes.
It is the second part to Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer (1992).
Directed by: Nick Broomfield, Joan Churchill
Duration: 93 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.1/10, which means it’s worth hearing all the details—if you can handle it. Plus it’s won a couple of film festival awards.
5. Into the Abyss (2011)
This documentary film takes a closer look at the death penalty based on a triple homicide in 2000 in Texas.
It’s not meant to excuse death row inmates of their crimes. But it does offer a rare look at their motives through the director’s interviews with convicted murderers Michael Perry and Jason Burkett and other people involved in the case.
Directed by: Werner Herzog
Duration: 107 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.3/11; if you ever wanted a closer look into the mind of an inmate facing the death penalty, then this is for you. Into the Abyss has been nominated for 13 awards, winning two film festival awards.
6. The Keepers (2017)
Netflix has no shortage of true-crime docuseries, but The Keepers is one that touches on not only murder but also sexual abuse, religion, and police corruption.
It focuses on the death and disappearance of nun and teacher Sister Cathy Cesnik in 1969. This exposé is headed by former students of the Baltimore Catholic high school Cesnik taught at, who are followed by the filmmakers.
Directed by: Ryan White
Duration: Seven episodes; total runtime: 432 minutes
IMDb Rating: 8.2/10, which makes it a “must-see” docu-series. The show was nominated seven times, including once for a Primetime Emmy. It won the Cinema Eye Honors Award in 2018.
7. The Confession Tapes (2017)
This Netflix original docuseries takes a critical look at legal cases where people have confessed to crimes they didn’t commit. It explores why they falsely confess, including issues like memory and manipulation.
Directed by: Jacob LaMendola
Duration: Seven episodes, 46 minutes each
IMDb Rating: 7.7/10. If you’re into American justice and want to learn something, this is a Netflix show you have to add to your viewing list.
8. The Thin Blue Line (1988)
This older true-crime documentary film joins narration and reenactment to reveal the story of Randall Dale Adams. Adams was sentenced to life in prison for a murder the filmmakers allege he didn’t commit.
Think of it as the predecessor of Making a Murderer or Serial. It’s a documentary that you can’t help but watch. Especially when you find out that Adams was freed from prison in 1989, largely due to the evidence put forth by the film.
Directed by: Errol Morris
Duration: 101 minutes
IMDb Rating: 8.1/10, so it’s pretty high on the list of Netflix murder documentaries to watch. Yes, it’s an older doc, but it’s still relevant to justice today. The Thin Blue Line has won 12 awards and been nominated an additional seven times.
9. The Witness (2015)
This documentary film focuses on the story of Kitty Genovese, who was murdered in 1964 in Kew Gardens, Queens. Her murder was allegedly witnessed by 38 neighbors who did nothing to help her.
The Witness focuses on the victim’s brother, Bill Genovese, a Vietnam veteran, who investigates the case by conducting interviews with the neighbors. It explores apathy in America and how one man deals with his loss.
Directed by: James D. Solomon
Duration: 89 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.1/10; if you like a classic mystery, then this one’s for you. The Witness won the BFF Award in 2016; it has been nominated for five other awards.
10. Biggie & Tupac (2002)
Who really shot Tupac? And what happened to Biggie? Is there a connection?
The year 1997 was not kind to the rap world. Megastar rappers Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls (The Notorious B.I.G.) were both murdered, in separate shootings.
This documentary film looks into their unsolved murders. And whether you’re a fan or not, you might find the film’s approach to be different. The interview with Suge Knight is worth the wait.
Directed by: Nick Broomfield
Duration: 108 minutes
IMDb Rating: 6.9/10; if you’re a hip hop lover, you won’t let the low-ish score deter you from watching it. Also a good film for conspiracy theorists!
11. Murder Maps (2015)
This UK docuseries takes viewers back in time to unwrap some of Britain’s most fascinating murder cases. That includes a trip to London for a look at Jack the Ripper’s infamous serial killings in the 1880s. It combines archived material with dramatic reenactments to bring the past to life.
There have been three seasons of Murder Maps already, so you have a lot of catching up to do!
Directed by: Daniel Kontur
Duration: Three seasons, 13 episodes total
IMDb Rating: 7.4/10; this is one for people interested in British crime and for history buffs.
You Have 11 Netflix Murder Documentary Series or Movies to Start Watching!
Quite the list, don’t you think?
If you’re a fan of murder mysteries or true crime, or want to learn about some of the most surprising criminal cases in the world, then have a look at any of these Netflix murder documentaries.
It may bring a new meaning to the term, “Netflix and Chill,” as many of these real-life cases and the revelations around them will chill you to the bone.
What about a good crime thriller? Top 7 Crime Thriller Movies to Watch on Netflix