Documentaries like Making a Murderer make viewers’ blood boil, divide them on just exactly who is right and wrong, and even cast doubt on the American justice system. That Steven Avery served 18 years in prison for a rape he didn’t commit and then was convicted of a murder many believe he also didn’t commit, fits hand in hand with the theme of documentaries such as the Paradise Lost trilogy, The Central Park Five, and Serial.
Documentaries like The Jinx and The Thin Blue Line make headlines because the documentarian uncovers new evidence that sparks a new trial, with varying outcomes. Robert Durst incriminated himself on camera. A key witness in Randall Dale Adams’s trial was enough to get him off death row and released from prison. Pressure from musical icons and filmmakers following the West Memphis Three case, gained release for Damian Nichols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelly 18 years later.
Why are viewers so fascinated with the true crime documentary and true crime TV shows? The best crime documentaries put the audience at the center of the story with access to information that may unlock an unsolved mystery. The documentarian has time on their side and they can focus on one story to uncover details and even evidence overlooked or hidden the first time around. In the hands of a seasoned and determined filmmaker or journalist, this access can be quite powerful.
If you’re looking for documentaries like Making a Murderer or documentaries like The Jinx, you’ll find them below. There are also other disturbing cases that haven’t gotten that level of attention. Suffice it to say, there’s plenty of true crime coverage out there to take in. Each of these great documentaries make an emotional impact, so maybe throw in a comedy or take a break between viewings.