CRIME DOCUMENTARIES

I am a freak who needs to consume as much true crime as possible to "prepare myself in case I'm faced with a similar tragedy" but usually I just freak myself out. Anyway here are some good crime docs.
  1. Capturing The Friedmans
    Andrew Jarecki (of 'The Jinx') started documenting a family, only to learn that the patriarch and one son had a past of child molestation. Really interesting to see how the family responds to the allegations and the role the mom plays.
  2. West of Memphis
    A condensed version of the Paradise Lost trilogy, this doc explains the history and current whereabouts of three (then) teenagers who were put in jail for a gruesome triple child murder in the 90s. Cult whisperings, Metallica and a total failure of the justice system.
  3. Dear Zachary
    BE READY TO SHED ONE BILLION TEARS! An incredibly moving doc designed to share a murdered man's story with his unborn son. The crime is weird, the movie emotional and creepy and touching and scary.
  4. Tales of The Grim Sleeper
    I'm leaving The Jinx off this list because if you're looking for crime doc suggestions I'm sure you're already familiar-- so post Jinx check out this HBO doc about a south central murderer. The gruesome murders are used as the basis for a discussion about race, class and how south central is ignored by the rest of Los Angeles
  5. The Central Park Five
    Yet another example of a failed judicial system, this doc outlines all the issues that culminated in a wrongful conviction of 5 young men for a rape in Central Park
  6. The Act of Killing
    I'm too dumb to fully understand all the politics involved in this doc, but basically a bunch of gang members were hired by the Indonesian government to kill citizens during a communist regime in the 1960s. 50 years later, these gang members reflect on their actions and recreate the murders using American pop culture tropes. Crazy shit, man.
  7. Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart
    Examines the flaws in the highly publicized Pam Smart trial where she was accused of seducing a high school student and promptly murdering her husband. I love a good sex scandal, especially when it results in a Nicole Kidman movie!
  8. TO DECOMPRESS: Mad Hot Ballroom
    To clear your mind of all the horror, check out this documentary about a bunch of NYC kids learning how to ballroom dance. Cute as hell, no murder.
  9. The Thin Blue Line
    One of the first documentaries to use artful reconstructions of events (a controversial move at the time), Errol Morris' film set the gold standard for all future crime docs and features an amazing Philip Glass score. It's also an intensely gripping story about a tragic case of injustice.
    Suggested by   @JonDA
  10. No but seriously The Staircase
    Suggested by   @Abby
  11. The Cheshire Murders
    Unlike most true crime docs, entirely devoid of any larger commentary, meaning or purpose (and the value lies therein.) Heinous and random in the chillingest way. Watch wisely.
    Suggested by   @peterbwarren
  12. TalHotBlond
    Crazy Documentary with tons of twists about an Internet love triangle that leads to murder.
    Suggested by   @NattyBohLight