By Paola Bakker
Web Content Contributor
There’s nothing quite like dimming the lights, cuddling up in bed and turning on a true crime documentary when you’re ignoring your many academic and professional responsibilities. No one wants to spend 30 plus minutes browsing the various streaming services you’re subscribed to to find a high-quality and thrilling documentary, so I thought I would compile a small list of some of my favorites. Some of these movies are disturbing, some are heart wrenching, some are just straight-up strange and some are all of the above.
“Abducted in Plain Sight”
(Trigger warning: sexual assault)
The documentary follows the Broberg family as they retell the kidnappings of their teenage daughter, Jan Broberg, by their next-door neighbor in the 1970s. The film is both devastating and disturbing, as the family still deals with the guilt they feel after trusting such a manipulative and sick man. Just hearing Broberg recount the abductions made my skin crawl, but the many twists and turns the story takes kept me on the edge of my seat. “Abducted in Plain Sight” is available to stream on Netflix.
“Evil Genius” is a four-episode long Netflix docuseries that looks deeper into the murder of Brian Wells, a pizza delivery man who gets caught up in a bank heist. The more information the series gives, the stranger this case turns.
I admit I would get a bit lost at times just because of all of the weird plot twists, but the series did a good job of clarifying information and getting you back on track. If you’re looking to hear about a bank heist turned murder that has some of the most unusual details and diabolical people behind it, consider giving “Evil Genius” a watch. The series is available to stream on Netflix.
“At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal”
(tw: sexual assault)
When thinking of the true crime genre, one typically thinks about murders and kidnappings, but this film documents one of the biggest and most tragic coverups of a criminal in Olympic history. The documentary focuses on Larry Nassar, the doctor to the U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics team, and his scandal of sexual abuse towards hundreds of young gymnasts over the span of decades, as well as the lengths those in charge went to cover it up.
Boy, did this movie make me ugly-cry. I was frustrated learning about the extent of his crimes, I was heartbroken hearing from his victims and I was inspired watching the women he abused stand up against him. Yes, it may not be a traditional true crime documentary, but I had to sneak this one in because of how well made it is. It is available to stream on HBO GO.
“I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth Vs. Michelle Carter”
This two-part HBO documentary follows the trial of teenager Michelle Carter after the suicide of her boyfriend and police uncover texts she sent him encouraging him to kill himself. The movie really goes in depth into Carter’s relationship with her boyfriend, as well as others around her, and shows the disturbing nature of the text messages.
They analyze both sides of the debate and show all sides of the case, which I found to be a really interesting look into the justice system and how a case can cause such a divide amongst those keeping up with it. The documentary is available to stream on HBO GO.
“Mommy Dead and Dearest”
“Mommy Dead and Dearest” follows one of the most infamous criminal cases of the 21st century, the murder of Dee Dee Blanchard by her daughter Gypsy Rose Blanchard and Gypsy’s boyfriend, Nicholas Godejohn.
If you watched “The Act” on Hulu, you may already know about the case, but this documentary strays from the Hollywoodized version of the show and reveals the reality of the people involved and what may have pushed Gypsy to become an accomplice to such a gruesome act. “Mommy Dead and Dearest” is available to stream on HBO GO.
These documentaries are all fascinating glimpses into both notorious crimes and crimes many people have never heard of. If you’re a fan of the true crime genre, I recommend giving all of them a watch and eventually finding your eyes glued to the television screen. Trust me, they’re worth using your friend’s HBO GO password for.
Feature Image by Paola Bakker