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Top 5 True Crime Documentaries on Netflix

The true crime genre has become hugely popular in the past couple of years. I used to think my mother was strange for watching so many episodes of Forensic Files until I started watching them with her. True crime draws you in tight and it’s hard to climb back out of the rabbit hole. There really is nothing better than a good mystery story, and below are five suggestions you can watch on Netflix.


1. Out of Thin Air

This Icelandic documentary tells the story of two men who mysteriously disappeared within a year of each other in the 1970s and the group of 20-somethings who confessed to committing murder. The only catch is that the group was isolated, interrogated and kept awake by the police for several days in a row. Interviews from the main female suspect are shown throughout the film, and she admits that her confessions came from the police ‘feeding’ her memories they created. Out of Thin Air keeps your attention on the suspects and their supposed guilt, rather than focusing on the victims themselves.


2. The Keepers

Image Courtesy of Irish Times

This is a six-episode Netflix original and is, in my opinion, a much better series than the more widely watched Making a Murderer. A Baltimore nun was murdered in the late 1960s and two of her former students continue to search for answers about her death. The episodes reveal how the nun might have known information about girls at the school being sexually abused by the priests in charge. It’s a terrifying storyline, especially when the main victim claims her abuser took her to view the nun’s deceased body as a threat to keep her quiet. The series is riveting, aggravating and extremely captivating.


3. Brother’s Keeper

Brother’s Keeper tells of the Ward brothers, four elderly men who lived together in a small farming community. One brother was killed in his bed and when police arrived, the second eldest man admitted to having killed him. A third brother claimed the killing was done not out of malice or hate, but out of mercy. This documentary is strange and a little slow to get through, but it shows you how life in isolation can lead to dangerous behavior and it will leave you thinking about the Ward brothers for the rest of the day.


4. Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine

Image Courtesy of Blogspot

Matt Shepard was a young man who, in the late 1990s, was murdered by two men for being gay in Wyoming. This documentary, as told by the title, is directed and produced by Matt’s childhood friend. There are interviews with his parents, friends and former teachers, with home videos and journal entries from the deceased. It is a heartbreaking and deeply moving story that proves everyone leaves a lasting impression on the ones around them.


5. Forensic Files

Image Courtesy of Hulu

This is a true crime fan’s first foray into the genre. There are nine collections available on Netflix. Each episode is about half an hour long and tells the stories of homicides that have happened all over the nation. What’s most interesting about the series is that the stories are based on the cases of regular, ordinary people.


These five titles are just a small sample of the lineup Netflix has on its site. While true crime is an easy genre to binge-watch, the material might be a bit too heavy to spend so many hours in. It’s important to remember to take a break at times before you go on to start the next one!

Bebhinn Nagle is a pre-junior at Drexel University, where she is majoring in Nursing. Along with this role of writer for HerCampus Drexel, she is also the recruitment chair for the school's student nurses' association.
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