There’s something so strangely fascinating about true crime, and Netflix is well and truly catering to Australia’s current fixation. In recent months, they’ve unleashed a slew of gripping docos and series to thrill us, chill us, and fill us with a need to keep the lights on at night…
me: Wow! Why am I so freaked out all the time?
also me: watches disappearance shows, listens to murder podcasts, watches unsolved crime videos
— chloee (@tinyflwr) January 19, 2018
So, with such a huge library to choose from, which ones are worth your time? We’ve sorted the trash from the treasure and found nine shows that’ll leave you desperate for more.
1. Abducted in Plain Sight
Yes, this is the one you’ve seen all those memes about on Facebook – and for good reason. This documentary is absolutely INSANE – trust us, ’emotional rollercoaster’ doesn’t even begin to describe it. Without giving too much away, Abducted in Plain Sight tells the true, stranger-than-fiction story of how a naive Mormon family from Idaho became entangled in a bizarre relationship with their sociopathic neighbour. Prepare to have your jaw hit the floor multiple times.
2. Amanda Knox
Most of us have heard the name and the story, but Netflix’s 2016 doco on the affair delves deep into the murder of Meredith Kercher (for which Knox and her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were wrongly convicted) and the sensationalised tabloid news coverage of the crime and subsequent trial. Even if you think you know everything about the case that fascinated the world, the revelations that come out in this Emmy-nominated documentary will shock you.
3. Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes
When we think of serial killers, the first thing to spring to mind is not usually a young, handsome, straight-laced, charming law grad, but that’s exactly who Ted Bundy was – or at least, who he appeared to be. Over the course of four years, Bundy cruelly and remorselessly stole the lives of over 30 innocent young women, many of whom remain unidentified. This four-episode series charts his crimes (and the media frenzy that surrounded them) featuring recordings of Bundy himself and offering an unprecedented glimpse into the mind of one of the 20th century’s most despicable figures.
4. Dirty John
Ok, so this one isn’t a documentary per se, but it is based on real-life events, so we’re sneaking it on to our list anyway. If you haven’t listened to the Dirty John podcast (and we recommend that you do!), here’s a brief rundown. When Debra Newell (played by Connie Britton) meets ‘Dr’ John Meehan (Eric Bana in his creepiest role ever), she falls head over heels. He’s attractive, has a great job, and treats her like a queen, but, as Debra’s daughters quickly discover, isn’t quite what he claims to be. This wild, true story is proof that evil can lurk within the most unsuspecting places…
5. Evil Genius
Speaking of evil, may we introduce you to Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong? Her name might not be as commonly known as Bundy, but she’s a central (and incredibly fascinating) character in one of the most unbelievably diabolical bank heists in American history. Evil Genius has everything – murder, money, conspiracy, love, heartbreak, and pizza. If we go any further, we’ll spoil it, so just take our word for it and hit ‘play’.
6. Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
Another one that’s been meme’d half to death, Netflix’s recently-released Fyre documentary follows the infamous Fyre Festival from its conception to its trainwreck aftermath. You’ll hear from its founders, Billy McFarland and Ja Rule, who for some glorious reason decided to record every second of the festival’s planning (if you can call it that), plus the poor workers roped into this dumpster
fyre fire and its traumatised attendees.
Where Fyre was entertaining, Newtown is utterly heartbreaking. Filmed four years after the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, during which 27 children and staff lost their lives, Newtown revisits the Connecticut town torn apart by the deadliest school shooting in US history, featuring interviews with townspeople, survivors and, tragically, the families of those who lost a loved one. A word of advice: Keep the tissues nearby for this one.
8. The Keepers
Who killed sister Cathy Cesnik? That’s the question this 2017 Netflix doco series sets out to answer. In 1969, the 26-year-old Catholic nun and Archbishop Keough High School teacher disappeared – her body was discovered eight weeks later. The ensuing investigation exposed a string of horrific abusive behaviour at Keough, revealing an explosive potential motive for the murder of this beloved woman. Yes, it’s confronting and heartbreaking, but a must-watch.
9. The Witness
If you ever took a psychology class at uni, you may be familiar with the name Kitty Genovese. In 1964, at the age of just 24, Genovese was stabbed to death outside of her Queens apartment building. According to a New York Times article published at the time, The attack was witnessed by up to 38 people – yet not a single one stepped in to help or call the police. The case popularised what became known as the ‘bystander effect’, a phenomenon in which the higher the number of people present at an incident, the less likely we are to help the victim. In The Witness, Kitty’s brother William debunks the myths surrounding one of New York’s most chilling crimes in an attempt to shift the focus from his sister’s death to her forgotten life.
Reckon you were an investigator in another life? Put those problem-solving skills honed through your true crime obsession to the test in a state-of-the-art escape room! Fremantle and Brissy residents can test their wits from $50 for two people, while Melburnians can challenge themselves from $39 for two people. Good luck, detectives 🕵️♂️
Oh, and don’t think we forgot about you, Sydney! Delve into the dark past of the Harbour City with a 90-minute true crime tour from $17, where you’ll stroll through the streets learning about your home town’s sinister history.
Image credit: Top Knot Films