By Maya Mellberg
March 16, 2021
Over the past few years, the true crime genre has amassed a significant following. This has fueled the creation of many TV shows and documentaries covering some of the most haunting cases and terrifying killers. Here are some popular true crime documentaries and docu-series available on Netflix, from murderers, to disappearances these shows will leave you at the edge of your seat.
The “Night Stalker” was the nickname given to Richard Ramirez, a serial killer that left LA in a state of terror during the mid-1980s. Throughout this time he committed 13 counts of murder, five counts of attempted murder, and a multitude of other crimes. This documentary goes through the timeline of events and the experience of Gil Carrillo and Frank Salerno, detectives running the case during this time. Directed by Tiller Russel, the Night Stalker, uses real TV interviews and media coverage to bring readers back in time. There are no actors portraying certain characters which brings a realistic and emotional aspect to the show. Compared to some crime shows, Russel did not glamorize the actions of Richard Ramierez. This series is unlike any other, and is a must watch for crime junkies.
Disappearance of Madeleine McCann
Directed by Chris Smith, and starring Anthony Summers, Gonçalo Amaral and Robbyn Swan. This documentary explores the unsolved case of Madeleine McCan, a three-year-old girl, who went on vacation to Portugal in May of 2007. One night she vanishes from her bed, her parents only 100 yards away enjoying dinner. Although a massive manhunt took place, no trace of Madeleine was ever found. This docu-series explores the disappearance, police hunt, media coverage, and attempt to bring home Madeleine McCann.
Vanishing at Cecil Hotel
Elisa Lam was a Canadian student staying at the Cecil Hotel. When a video of her exiting and entering the elevator while making strange gestures went viral; it is believed she was interacting with someone outside the elevator. She was later found dead in a water tank and her death was ruled accidental, although many disagree as the circumstances of her death were unsettling especially considering the Cecil Hotel is notorious for certain deaths and murders. This TV series examines the eerie death of Elisa Lam. Contrary to many crime shows, this series is mostly focused on interviews with “web-slueths” and their conspiracies as to what really happened to Lam. Elisa’s family is not featured in this series as it is believed they wanted to move on, and not relive the horrors of her death.
American Murder: Family Next Door
This docu-series covers the disappearance of blogger mom Shannan Watts, and her two daughters. As a police investigation goes underway, the ugly reality behind the internet facade comes to light. Countless videos and text messages reveal what really happened to Shannan, Bella, and Celeste Watts; a haunting story of a marriage gone wrong and the horrific truth that shocked America. Because the lives of the Watts family were heavily documented the series uses real video footage, texts, and phone calls to show the reality of this seemingly perfect family. Jenny Popplewell, director, geniusly executes the creation of this series and brings light to the truth about the Watts family.