From disturbing murder documentaries to festivals that went horribly, horribly wrong, Netflix has seriously been delivering with their host of insightful, detailed documentaries. For anyone looking for the next true crime story to get hooked on, we have put together some of the best documentaries available on Netflix. Take a look at our top picks…
Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez
This 2020 documentary focuses on the life of Aaron Hernandez, a NFL player who murdered Odin Lloyd, a man dating his fiancée's sister. The series explores what led him to commit the crime, as well as cover his shocking death by suicide aged just 27. Aaron was a professional American footballer who played for the Patriots from 2010 and was considered to be one of the league's most talented players. However, he was arrested for the murder of Odin in 2013 and found guilty of first-degree murder in 2015. During this time, he was also indicted for a double homicide which took place in 2012. Following his death, it was discovered that Aaron suffered from severe chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurodegenerative disease which is caused by head injuries. Symptoms for CTE include mood swings, anger and behavioural problems.
Don't F*** with Cats
This much-talked about series follows an online community – made up of animal rights activists and amateur sleuths - who become determined to track down a man who uploaded a series of videos of himself killing cats to the Internet. The three-part documentary is stranger than fiction, and sparked discussion about culpability and the nature of true crime documentaries.
Want to learn more about everything? A series from Vox dives into all sorts of fascinating topics for you to learn more, including all about why diets fail, how diamonds became a status symbol, and why K-pop has become such a huge success.
Perhaps Netflix's most successful documentary of 2020 so far, Cheer follows the Navarro College cheerleading team in Texas as they do whatever it takes to win the National Championships in Daytona, putting their wellbeing at risk to get to the top. They are also led by the indomitable Monica, the Miranda Priestly of the cheer world, whose competitiveness has made the squad the best in the world.
The Devil Next Door
This compelling series looks at a man who, after living in the US for decades, is taken to Israel after being accused of being an infamously cruel Nazi death camp guard known as Ivan the Terrible. But is he really the same man, or is it a case of mistaken identity?
The Confession Killer
Henry Lee confessed to being America's deadliest serial killer after he admitted to killing hundreds of victims. But did he actually kill any of them at all? The documentary looks at the inconsistencies in Henry's stories, and whether they hold any truth at all.
Surviving R Kelly
A tough watch, Surviving R Kelly follows several women's stories as they make sexual abuse allegations against the American singer. Shortly after the show was initially released in 2019, Kelly was charged with ten counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.
The Devil Next Door
This recent documentary follows the trial of a generation as John Demjanjuk, a retired Ukrainian-American autoworker living in the USA in the 1980s, is accused of being 'Ivan the Terrible', a Nazi death camp guard. Claiming that it is a case of mistaken identity, Demjanjuk is taken to Israel to stand trial for crimes against humanity, where survivors of the Nazi concentration camps gave devastating testimonials over 'Ivan the Terrible' and his barbaric actions. Speaking about the show, one person tweeted: "The Devil Next Door documentary series on Netflix is absolutely fascinating. The whole process of the Ivan the Terrible trial is quite a lesson on justice. For the record, I don't think John was Ivan, but it’s pretty obvious that he was a death camp guard."
The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann
This documentary takes a detailed look at three-year-old Maddie's disappearance from the seaside resort of Praia de Luz back in 2007, a story which rocked the British public and became the most high-profile kidnapping case in recent history. The documentary looks at the investigation by the Portuguese police along with Scotland Yard, as they undertook a major investigation to try and find Gerry and Kate McCann's daughter.
This series follows the unsolved murder of a Baltimore nun, Sister Cathy, nearly five decades after her death. In the 1990s, one of Cathy's former students came forward with stories of sexual abuse by the high school’s chaplain, and claimed that she was taken to Sister Cathy’s as-of-yet undiscovered body and told, 'See what happens when you say bad things about people.' Despite her testimony, no one to this day has been held accountable. The documentary looks at whether there was a major cover up, and who killed Sister Cathy.
Tell Me Who I Am
This heartbreaking documentary tells the story of Alex Lewis, who survived a motorcycle accident aged 18 only to have realised that he has forgotten everything except the identity of his twin brother, Marcus. Relying on his twin, Alex learns everything about his life and family all over again, with no idea that Marcus is omitting major parts of their past to spare Alex pain. In the documentary, the pair finally go on a journey together to face the truth of just what happened all of those years ago, which Alex so desperately wants to remember and Marcus so desperately wants to forget.
The Ted Bundy Tapes
A collection of tapes recorded by one of the world's most notorious serial killers is just about as disturbing as you might think. As his trial is retold by those closest to the case, the documentary also looks at Ted's almost admission of guilt – that he killed 36 women - by describing his crimes in the third person – which makes for a truly disturbing watch.
Abducted in Plain Sight
Strap yourself in for the most bizarre true story you're likely to watch this year. Taking place in the 70s, a family recounts befriending a new neighbour and seemingly normal family man named 'B', who groomed the entire family in order to get closer to their 12-year-old daughter, Jan, who he ends up kidnapping... twice. Just when you think you've heard the worst of this odd tale, something else utterly insane takes place. Make sure you recommend it to your friends because trust us, you'll want someone to talk to about it afterwards!
Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
If you have any sort of social media, you saw the horrendous circumstances of the Fyre Festival. It was meant to be a huge, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to party like the rich and famous, and with the rich and famous – before things went apocalyptically wrong – leaving a bunch of rich Americans stuck in the Bahamas with almost no food or shelter. This documentary has a look at exactly what happened for everything to go so wrong so spectacularly, and casts an eye on the charming yet ignorant creator of the festival, Billy.
Amanda Knox spent four years in an Italian prison for the 2007 murder of her housemate, Meredith Kercher, before being acquitted. In the documentary, Amanda recounts the circumstances surrounding Meredith's death, and the intense media speculation follow her arrest, all the while maintaining her innocence. But do you believe her?
A devoted husband, Michael Peterson, maintains his innocence after his wife Kathleen was found at the bottom of their staircase, dead. While his family and friends defended him, and he himself strongly denied ever hurting her, the documentary looks at both sides of the story, and the amount of evidence that mounted against Michael throughout the trial.
This documentary looks at the murder of JonBenét Ramsey, who was killed when she was just six-years-old. In an unusual twist, the film sets out to cast actors in the roles of the real people involved in the case, including JonBenét's parents, John and Patsy, while the Colorado-based actors all recount their own memories of the case. The doc focuses more on the speculation and conspiracies surrounding the little girl's death rather than who did it – which sets it apart from a standard crime documentary.
Wild Wild Country
The official synopsis for this much-discussed documentary reads: "A Netflix Original documentary series about a controversial cult leader who builds a utopian city in the Oregon desert, resulting in conflict with the locals that escalates into a national scandal." Viewers have praised the series, with one writing: "Just finished it, and it was superb." Another person added: "I'm so fascinated by this documentary. Can't believe I never heard of it before."
The truth story of America's most diabolical bank heist. If you're getting a little tired of murder documentaries, why not try one about a bank robbery that went horribly wrong? A man was forced to rob a bank while wearing an explosive around his neck – or was he actually in on the bank robbery the entire time?
Making a Murderer
Arguably THE documentary that kick started a new generation, Making a Murderer looks at the case of Steven Avery, a man who spent 18 years in prison for rape before he was exonerated by DNA testing. Shortly after his release, he was arrested for the murder of Teresa Halbach. But did he really do it? The documentary examines the evidence of the flawed case and how the police handled the enquiry. Interest in Steven's case led to a second series, which looked at the aftermath of the documentary's release.
The Confession Tapes
Much like Making a Murderer's Brendan Dassey, who it was claimed was coerced into confession for the murder of Theresa Halbach, the series looked at people who claim, after their conviction, that their confessions were actually coerced, involuntary or false. The series certainly inspired a strong reaction from viewers, and one wrote: "Every person who bullied & interrogated the victims should been stripped of their badges and fired straight away! The system has failed greatly & continues to fail the victims till today. How many cases like these is there that haven’t even been looked at?"