Netflix’s Making A Murderer was one of the most watched and talked about TV shows of the summer. If you’re hankering for something with a similarly dark flavour, these true-crime movies, podcasts and television series are well worth a look.
There are few forms of “entertainment” more compelling than true-crime documentaries — especially when the accused party might actually be innocent. This is the main hook to Netflix’s Making A Murderer. Did Steven Avery really kill photographer Teresa Halbach? Or was he framed by police? Unless new evidence is uncovered, it’s doubtful we will ever know for sure.
Of course, Avery’s case isn’t the first murder trial to be mired in controversy — and Making A Murderer isn’t the first documentary to explore this intriguing subject. Here are five more true-crime series that are guaranteed to frustrate, fascinate and chill the viewer.
Serial is a true-crime podcast that took the world by storm back in 2014. Over multiple episodes, narrator and journalist Sarah Koenig investigates the real-life 1999 murder of Baltimore high school student Hae Min Lee. As with Making A Murderer, the man convicted of the crime continues to maintain his innocence and some of the evidence used against him doesn’t seem to add up.
From serialpodcast: “Sarah Koenig sorted through thousands of documents, listened to trial testimony and police interrogations, and talked to everyone she could find who remembered what happened between Adnan Syed and Hae Min Lee. She discovered that the trial covered up a far more complicated story than the jury – or the public – ever got to hear.”
Paradise Lost documents the highly questionable conviction of three delinquent teens for the gruesome triple-homicide of three young boys in West Memphis, Arkansas. Like Making A Murderer, the film is highly critical of the police investigation that led to the teens’ arrests. There are two excellent followup movies: Paradise Lost 2: Revelations and Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory. Interestingly, the evidence uncovered by the Paradise Lost crew contributed to the teens’ eventual release — a portent of what may happen to Steven Avery?
From IMDB: “A horrific triple child murder leads to an indictment and trial of three nonconformist boys based on questionable evidence.”
This HBO mini-series is a fascinating inversion of Making A Murderer. While the Netflix series focused on an average working-class Joe convicted of crimes he seemingly didn’t commit, The Jinx is all about a rich and privileged real estate tycoon who keeps (allegedly) getting away with murder. Like Making A Murderer, there are several intriguing “plot” twists and the discovery of startling new evidence over the course of the documentary.
From IMDB: “Filmmaker Andrew Jarecki examines the complicated life of reclusive real estate icon, Robert Durst, the key suspect in a series of unsolved crimes.”
Capturing The Friedmans follows the journey of a young man convicted of horrible crimes he may or may not have committed. Like Making A Murderer, this award-winning documentary chronicles the fallout on his extended family and pokes numerous holes in the evidence used against him.
From IMDB: “Documentary on the Friedmans, a seemingly typical, upper-middle-class Jewish family whose world is instantly transformed when the father and his youngest son are arrested and charged with shocking and horrible crimes.”
Brother’s Keeper is a 1992 documentary about the conviction of Delbert Ward for the murder of his own brother. The trial shares many similarities to the Making A Murderer case, particularly when it comes to Steven Avarey’s mentally challenged nephew, Bobby Dassey. Like Dassey, Delbert Ward was primarily convicted on the strength of his own signed confession — despite the fact that he couldn’t read. Once again, it highlights how suspects with poor educations are far more vulnerable to potential miscarriages of justice.
From IMDB: “This documentary by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky details the murder trial of Delbert Ward. Under questioning by police, Delbert appears to have waived his rights and signed a confession, but this film suggests that he may not have been competent to do so.”