The 20 most chilling true crime documentaries on HBO Max

Trying to get hooked on a brand new story of true crime? HBO Max has you coated.

The streaming service boasts tons of nice documentaries, a lot of them centered on prison exercise. However for the needs of this listing, we have restricted the definition of the style to focus completely on these all-consuming tales that drive you to marathon-viewing a number of, terrifying tales. You understand, these whodunnits — or extra usually, these why’d-they-do-its — that plunge you right into a rabbit gap of armchair psychology, beginner sleuthing, and nonfiction nightmares.

Listed here are the 19 most gripping true crime initiatives, each sequence and movies, now on HBO Max.

20. The Girl and the Dale*

The Lady and the Dale

The Girl and the Dale
Credit score: Courtesy of hbo

HBO has a library of sensational true crime choices, but this 2021 mini-series is uniquely fascinating. Administrators Nick Cammilleri and Zackary Drucker unfurl the instances and trials of Elizabeth Carmichael, who was not solely a nationally acknowledged car govt and notorious con artist, but additionally a spouse, mom, and transgender trailblazer.

For many years, her story has been framed by those that despise her, leading to a story rife with hypothesis and transphobia. On this difficult and boldly humorous four-episode documentary mini-series, Carmichael’s story is reclaimed by balancing the angle of her haters with in-depth interviews with those that knew her greatest. With animated pictures, a playful soundtrack, and a cheeky sense of journey, The Girl and The Dale goals not solely to showcase the complexity of the late Carmichael, but additionally to seize her spirit. All this makes for a watch that’s shocking, thrilling, and unforgettable.

Methods to watch: The Lady and the Dale is streaming on HBO Max.

19. Class Motion Park

When most individuals suppose “true crime,” their minds leap to bloody murders, twisted considering, and prison enterprises. They do not usually suppose: water slides. However Class Motion Park is a particular case. This superb documentary from administrators Seth Porges and Chris Charles Scott III is an equal mixture of theme park nostalgia, hilariously dumb concepts, and — this is the place the crimes are available — the unlucky victims of mentioned dumb concepts. The film tells the story of Motion Park, an notorious New Jersey water park recognized for its harmful sights and lax strategy to security.

From the day it opened in 1978 till its closing in 1996, not less than six individuals died and actually numerous others had been injured. Class Motion Park tells the story of how that each one occurred whereas additionally laying out the circumstances that saved this memorably harmful vacationer attraction in enterprise for nearly twenty years. — Adam Rosenberg, Senior Leisure Reporter

Methods to watch: Class Action Park is now streaming on HBO Max.

18. Thought Crimes: The Case of the Cannibal Cop

Best true crime documentaries on HBO Max

Greatest true crime documentaries on HBO Max
Credit score: hbo

One other undertaking from director Erin Carr, Thought Crimes: The Case of the Cannibal Cop follows the unusual case of former NYPD officer Gilberto Valle.

In 2012, Valle was arrested for conspiring to kidnap, rape, kill, and cannibalize ladies after his spouse found a whole bunch of web chat messages describing the acts in his search historical past. The obvious fetish appeared to transcend hypothetical imagery, when Valle started improperly accessing the Nationwide Crime Info Heart database by means of his NYPD credentials and drawing up complete abduction plans for girls he really knew.

The documentary navigates the sticky authorized space deftly, posing fascinating questions on what Valle’s case means for the way forward for crime within the digital age. — A.F.

Methods to watch: Thought Crimes: The Case of the Cannibal Cop is now streaming on HBO Max.

17. Mommy Lifeless and Dearest

Documentarian and true crime heavy hitter Erin Lee Carr — whose engrossing works seem twice extra on this listing — covers the weird homicide of Dee Dee Blanchard in Mommy Lifeless and Dearest. The 2017 movie tells the story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard, a 19-year-old sufferer of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, who after a lifetime of abuse conspired to homicide her mom in 2015.

Some viewers will acknowledge the case from its serialized dramatization in Hulu’s The Act, however Carr’s telling provides a extra nuanced have a look at the very fact sample. It is a flummoxing conundrum of justice that sees mom and daughter commerce locations as sufferer and attacker, and raises critical questions concerning the prison justice system’s capacity handy down levelheaded verdicts in morally difficult circumstances. — Alison Foreman, Leisure Reporter

Methods to watch: Mommy Dead and Dearest is now streaming on HBO Max.

16. The Cheshire Murders

Best true crime documentaries on HBO Max

Greatest true crime documentaries on HBO Max
Credit score: hbo max

Directed and produced by Kate Davis and David Heilbroner, The Cheshire Murders chronicles a horrific dwelling invasion that devastated a small city in Connecticut.

Within the early hours of July 23, 2007, two males entered a suburban residence and commenced a marketing campaign of terror in opposition to a household of 4 that left solely father Dr. William Petit alive. It’s a really disturbing account, which incorporates graphic descriptions of kid rape and torture.

This undertaking is typically considered being staunchly in favor of the loss of life penalty, that includes damning interviews with the attackers’ households really recommending the 2 convicted males be sentenced to loss of life. Nonetheless, it additionally provides a disturbing have a look at the alarming lack of transparency from police relating to the perpetrators’ arrests and trials. — A.F.

Methods to watch: The Cheshire Murders is now streaming on HBO Max.

15. There’s One thing Unsuitable with Aunt Diane

On July 26, 2009, Diane Schuler traveled 1.7 miles within the incorrect path on the Taconic State Parkway in upstate New York. When her minivan collided head-on with an SUV, she, her daughter, three of her nieces, and the entire passengers within the different automobile died.

In director Liz Garbus’ There’s One thing Unsuitable With Aunt Diane, Schuler’s members of the family, witnesses, and investigators try to make sense of the weird choices Schuler made that day. Her blood alcohol content material was reportedly .19% on the time of the collision, however Schuler had no historical past of alcoholism and had appeared sober to witnesses shortly beforehand.

Garbus prioritizes deep and sophisticated evaluation over a tidy narrative in her take on the case. It is a sympathetic however truthful account that may go away you with lots to chew over. — A.F.

Methods to watch: There’s Something Wrong with Aunt Diane is now streaming on HBO Max.

When you’re an everyday true crime fan, likelihood is you already know the whole lot there’s to know concerning the so-called “Slenderman stabbing.” However uh, in the event you do not? Buckle approach, approach up.

On this haunting documentary from director Irene Taylor Brodsky, we revisit the 2014 tried homicide of 12-year-old Payton Leutner. The assault was carried out by two different 12-year-old women, Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier, who advised Wisconsin authorities they attacked their good friend in an effort to impress the web character Slenderman. The movie provides a chilling glimpse into the generally warped interactions between adolescent minds and the web that is imperfect to say the least, however a novel watch. A few of these interviews actually follow you. — A.F.

Methods to watch: Beware the Slenderman is now streaming on HBO Max.

13. The Case Towards Adnan Syed

The Case Against Adnan Syed

The Case Towards Adnan Syed
Credit score: Courtesy of hbo max

Directed by Academy Award nominee Amy Berg, The Case Towards Adnan Syed may be understood and appreciated as a standalone undertaking. However for most viewers, the four-part docuseries serves as a companion piece to the watershed Serial podcast, which introduced the homicide of Baltimore County highschool pupil Hae Min Lee to worldwide consideration in 2014.

The sequence explores the media fervor introduced on by the podcast’s recognition, in addition to recounts the story from investigation by means of the 2016 post-conviction reduction listening to of Adnan Syed, the person convicted of the homicide. All advised, the undertaking is not prone to change your thoughts concerning the case, but it surely provides new insights and proof price your (and presumably the courtroom’s) consideration. — A.F.

Methods to watch: The Case Against Adnan Syed is now streaming on HBO Max.

12. Capturing the Friedmans

On this Academy Award-nominated crime documentary, director Andrew Jarecki seems on the collapse of a household when father Arnold and son Jesse are investigated and later tried for costs of kid molestation. The result’s a chilling juxtaposition of what predators can select to current to the world and their true nature behind closed doorways. — A.F. *

Methods to watch: Capturing the Friedmans is now streaming on HBO Max.

Efforts to place suspected serial killer Robert Durst behind bars have spanned a long time. In The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, filmmaker Andrew Jarecki recaps the chillingly charmed lifetime of the New York actual property inheritor, who in 2021 is just now standing trial for the 2000 homicide of Susan Berman. Berman is one in every of three victims tied to Durst; he’s additionally accused of getting killed his first spouse Kathleen McCormack in 1982 and his neighbor Morris Black in 2001.

Towards the recommendation of his attorneys, Durst actively participated within the creation of the 2014 docuseries. Throughout six episodes, Durst sits down with Jarecki for a sequence of disturbing interviews, numerous which have since been handled as proof within the continued prosecution of Durst. So far as portraits of really horrible individuals go, The Jinx stays one of many most horrific. — A.F.

Methods to watch: The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst is now streaming on HBO Max.

10. Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn

Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn

Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn
Credit score: Courtesy of HBO

The homicide of Yusuf Hawkins was a hate crime, no query. However in Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn, director Muta’Ali entertains the opposite theories that had been thought of within the 1989 taking pictures loss of life of the Black 16-year-old simply sufficient so that you can perceive the ability of the white narrative Hawkins’ household was up in opposition to when looking for justice.

Considerate and well-paced, the 2020 documentary goes past the tragic details of this loss of life to steadily reveal the encompassing tradition of racism in New York Metropolis in the course of the late ’80s and early ’90s that made so many prefer it potential. It is a heartbreaking true crime entry, however an important one. — A.F.

Methods to watch: Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn is now streaming on HBO Max.

9. Who Killed Garrett Phillips?

The 2011 loss of life of Garrett Phillips spurred a mess of tragedies. Not solely did a New York household lose their 12-year-old son in a mindless act of violence, however the subsequent investigation left a Black man struggling enormously underneath a authorized system ravaged by racial bias.

One other true crime movie from director Liz Garbus (There’s One thing Unsuitable With Aunt Diane), Who Killed Garrett Phillips? relentlessly seeks justice on each fronts. Asking the best questions on the simply the best instances, Garbus produces a compelling narrative that’s without delay an indictment of police failings and a rallying cry for figuring out the actual killer. — A.F.

Methods to watch: Who Killed Garrett Phillips? is now streaming on HBO Max.

8. Atlanta’s Lacking and Murdered: The Misplaced Kids

Director Sam Pollard tackles one of many most troubling crime developments in American historical past in Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children. Between 1979 and 1981, not less than 30 Black youngsters had been kidnapped and murdered. However prosecutors’ resolution to assign all of these deaths to the convicted serial killer Wayne Williams disturbed many who doubted his involvement each case.

Over 5 episodes, Pollard tracks the story from the start of the killings to the reopening of the investigation in 2019. It is a complete have a look at the insidious racism that has plagued Atlanta policing for many years, that solely grows in significance. The tragedy of those circumstances, nonetheless, is that the choice to prematurely shut them within the ’80s might imply they’re unsolvable now. — A.F.

Methods to watch: Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children is now streaming on HBO Max.

7. I Love You, Now Die

I Love You, Now Die

I Love You, Now Die
Credit score: Courtesy of HBO

One other true crime undertaking from Erin Carr, I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth vs. Michelle Carter is a two-part have a look at one of many most mindless crimes of the fashionable age. On July 13, 2014, 18-year-old Conrad Roy died by suicide in a Kmart car parking zone in Massachusetts. His girlfriend, 19-year-old Michelle Carter, not solely knew of her boyfriend’s plan to die by carbon monoxide poisoning, however actively inspired him to undergo with it in a sequence of bewildering textual content messages that might later land her in courtroom on costs of involuntary manslaughter.

The sequence follows Carter’s efforts to show her innocence, posing fascinating questions on what crimes may be dedicated on-line. This one is hard viewing, each for its heart-wrenching depiction of Roy’s psychological well being disaster and for the helplessness one feels in figuring out Roy may have been saved if Carter had interceded. — A.F.

Methods to watch: I Love You, Now Die is now streaming on HBO Max.

6. The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley

Enter the completely unreal delusion of disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes in The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley. Academy Award winner Alex Gibney walks viewers by means of the (alleged) rip-off concocted by the ex-CEO, which not solely garnered the assist of quite a few high-profile traders however even noticed its totally pretend know-how — a blood-testing system referred to as “Edison” — start a pseudo rollout in precise pharmacies.

Repurposing some unimaginable footage of Holmes supposed to be used in a Theranos promoting marketing campaign, Gibney renders a surprising portrait of a (once more, alleged) con artist. The result’s a mesmerizing watch that may make you query how simple you would be to idiot when confronted with one of many most infamous liars of the twenty first century. — A.F.

Methods to watch: The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley is now streaming on HBO Max.

5. Homicide on Center Seaside

It ought to go with out saying, however true crime is a greater style when victims and survivors paved the way. Homicide on Center Seaside champions simply this concept, as debut filmmaker Madison Hamburg investigates and displays on the unsolved homicide of his mom Barbara Hamburg in 2010.

A four-part story shot over eight years, the docuseries chronicles Hamburg’s journey to know who killed his mother and why. What begins as a glance into his household’s most fraught relationships quickly takes Madison right into a hidden world of scams and hierarchy of which he did not know his mom was a component. It is a captivating, if barely unsatisfying, undertaking you will wish to binge for its winding narrative model and shocking last-act revelations. — A.F.

Methods to watch: Murder on Middle Beach (*20*)

4. Paradise Misplaced: The Little one Murders at Robin Hood Hills

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Credit score: hbo

This 1996 documentary from HBO was the primary of many to query the decision reached within the notorious case of Arkansas’ West Memphis Three. And whereas there’s lots you will wish to analysis concerning the case after seeing the film — significantly, you’ve got obtained 25 years of authorized developments that are not accounted for right here — it stays one of many most well-regarded views on the disturbing crime obtainable, to not point out an totally transfixing viewing expertise.

On Could 5, 1993, three 8-year-old boys had been discovered lifeless and mutilated in a wooded space often called Robin Hood Hills. Native youngsters Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley Jr., and Jason Baldwin had been quickly recognized as prime suspects within the crime, however their connections to the murders had been flimsy. Administrators Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s Paradise Misplaced is a vital true crime watch that at all times strikes a nerve. — A.F.

Methods to watch: Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills is now streaming on HBO Max.

3. Behind Closed Doorways

The double murder of 13-year-old Aarushi Talwar and her household’s servant 45-year-old Hemraj Banjade stays a world-shaking occasion for the individuals of Noida, India.

In Behind Closed Doorways, documentarian P.A. Carter takes viewers into the guts of the media storm that erupted when the 2 had been discovered lifeless in 2008. Over two components, Carter interviews these closest to the case about the whole lot from the small particulars wanted to nab the killer to the broader societal points that made this explicit investigation so tumultuous. It is a significantly intriguing true crime entry, contemplating it permits for a broader dialogue of how justice is or is not carried out internationally in a style sometimes dominated by western audiences. — A.F.

Methods to watch: Behind Closed Doors is now streaming on HBO Max.

2. I will Be Gone within the Darkish

Among the best portraits of a true crime author to this point, director Liz Garbus’ I will Be Gone within the Darkish serves as each a glance into the terrifying Golden State Killer (often known as the “Authentic Night time Stalker” and “East Space Rapist”) and the girl who would cease at nothing to establish him.

Michelle McNamara, who died all of a sudden in 2016, devoted years of her life to discovering the person liable for a string of murders, rapes, and burglaries throughout California between 1973 and 1986, regardless of not figuring out anybody immediately impacted by his crimes. A e-book chronicling her work, additionally titled I will Be Gone within the Darkish, was launched posthumously and the docuseries serves as a type of companion piece — full of loving remembrances and overwhelming admiration for McNamara.

So far as true crime “followers” go, McNamara was the very best of us. Her unrelenting ardour for justice leaps from the web page and display screen even now, and can function an inspiration at all times. — A.F.

Methods to watch: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is now streaming on HBO Max.


Credit score: Courtesy of HBO

For greater than a decade beginning in 1989, a veritable military of crooks and stooges bilked McDonald’s out of $24 million price of winnings from its annual McDonald’s Monopoly sweepstakes. It was such a sprawling scheme that HBO turned it right into a documentary miniseries directed by James Lee Hernandez and Brian Lazarte. Throughout six episodes, the fascinating and often hilarious doc introduces us to colourful characters on each side of the regulation because it digs into the particulars of the prison enterprise and the way it finally fell aside.

By the point it is throughout, you will know the who, what, when, the place, why, and the way of the historic McDonald’s Monopoly fraud case. However you will even be left with loads of questions on what McMillions’ most memorable character, FBI Agent Doug Matthews, is not telling us. — A.R.

Methods to watch: McMillions is now streaming on HBO Max.

Asterisks (*) point out the entry description comes from a earlier Mashable streaming listing.

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