I won’t pretend to understand what it is that makes true crime so fascinating. To be honest, we should probably be a little concerned about the way that the true crime genre has spread like wildfire, prompting TV, movies, and podcasts about all the worst, most fascinating crimes ever recorded. But there’s no time to wonder why we love these true tales of murder and madness when new true crime movies are popping up every day and demanding our attention, from Casting JonBenet to kidnapping horror story Abducted in Plain Sight.
One note about these true crime faves? Make sure your kiddos are in bed and asleep (really asleep) before you click on the evening’s entertainment. Unlike our favorite horror movies, even the scariest of which can be explained away as “all pretend,” these true crime stories may be harder to brush off. On the other hand, if you have a teen or pre-teen, you do have some options for true crime with softened edges — otherwise known as the Hollywood dramatization. Movies like Lost Girls, Spotlight, and Room all tell stories of very real crimes in very real ways, but the familiar narrative style (and familiar actors) can make subjects more palatable than they may have been through documentary footage.
I’ll say the obvious: at this point in time, we have plenty of things to be scared of without Netflix’s help. But for whatever reason, that hasn’t made these true crime movies one ounce less fun as we binge our way through lockdown. Here are 22 true crime movies, both documentaries and biopics, that we guarantee will capture your attention.