I'm not kidding, you really need to.
True crime's popularity has seriously taken off in the last few years, which has resulted in a huge boom in Netflix shows, documentaries, movies, podcasts, books, and pretty much any other media format you could possibly imagine. It's enough to make true crime junkies go a little crazy; so many options, so little time! I mean, where do you even start?
Don't worry, the Her Campus team has got you covered! We've compiled a list of the top 5 shows, movies, and podcasts you absolutely NEED to check out.
1. Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile (2019)
Troy Bolton looks a little different here...
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, starring Zac Efron and Lily Collins, is a biopic about the notorious American serial killer Ted Bundy. It spans Bundy's life over two decades; starting in 1969, when he met his longtime girlfriend Liz Kendall. It follows the events leading up to his death, including his murder trials and how he managed to avoid sentencing in three states before he was ultimately given the death penalty. As a true crime enthusiast myself, I must say that THIS was the documentary that kick-started my obsession with the genre. I remember watching it on a flight back home from a summer vacation two years ago; the whole time, I was on the edge of my seat, absolutely shocked to the core, but unable to peel my eyes away for even a second. As soon as I thought the plot had reached a peak, it just kept escalating.
2. Casefile True Crimes
Okay, I’ll be honest, I’m not an active podcast listener; there are a few reasons for this, 1) I’m a visual person, I have to see things to truly process them, and 2) it’s hard to find one with narration that doesn’t make me want to fall asleep. But for my favorite genre, I guess I’ll make an exception. I listen to a few episodes of Casefile every now and then when I have the time and I feel inclined to, and I can 100% guarantee that not only are the stories interesting but so are the hosts; they sound like they’re actually into it themselves. My personal favorite episodes thus far have Case 154 on Steven Stayner and Case 146 on Britanny Phillips. Not only did I find the stories super fascinating, but I absolutely loved the way the narrators built up the suspense throughout the episodes.
3. The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann (2019)
While this case is quite old (it happened in 2007), recent developments in the investigation have been brought to light, drawing new attention to Madeline’s story. To give you enough of a summary to get you intrigued (without spoiling it for you too much), this documentary centers on the story of Madeleine McCann, who disappeared while on vacation with her family in Portugal in the summer of 2007. The doc captures the police investigation, the involvement of the media, and the ways in which it was actually quite damaging to the case, as well as the family’s experiences during and after the tragedy.
Personally, this was the documentary that almost convinced me to switch my major to criminology, because it had me rattled.
4. Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel (2021)
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t down for the idea of watching this series at first. Even though I’m a true crime junkie and I’m always willing to give everything a try, this one just seemed a little too dark for me; I had been convinced myself it would definitely give me nightmares that I would never recover from, so I didn’t even want to look at it beyond watching the trailer. BUT, Netflix gave a 95% match rating for it based on other shows I was into; since I figured Netflix knows my entertainment preferences well enough by now, I thought why not watch at least part of the first episode to see if I like it? After all, I can always abandon it if I don't like it.
I already knew of the story prior to starting the show, but even if you don’t know anything about Elisa Lam or the notorious Cecil Hotel, the documentary goes super in-depth on Elisa's background, the story of her disappearance, and the history of the crime scene. The episodes go into so much detail, visually and verbally, that it definitely sent shivers up my spine. This, combined with the fact that it took place at the Cecil Hotel - which is located near Skid Row in downtown L.A, and has a reputation for deadly activities - checks all the boxes for a creepy viewing.
5. Murder by the Coast (2021)
Now this one is less popular than the others I’ve mentioned, but hear me out: it’s just as intriguing as the other ones. The documentary follows the story of a Dutch-Spanish teenage girl, Rocio Wanninkhof, who was murdered in the town of La Cala in 1999. What makes this case particularly interesting is the underlying social issues it brings to light, specifically, homophobia towards lesbians. The convicted killer, in the beginning, is Dolores Vasquez, the ex-partner of Rocio’s mother Alicia. You'll see in the documentary that there is a significant lack of evidence that actually connects Vasquez to the crime; however, due to her sexual orientation, she is quickly torn apart by the media, as well as Alicia’s family and friends. It is not until a second victim is discovered and the investigation is re-opened, that the truth comes to light. That's all I'm going to say about it, so you'll just have to watch it yourself to find out the final verdict.
If you're a fellow true crime junkie , you'll definitely love these recommendations. Be sure to let us know what you think, and stay tuned for more entertainment recommendations coming your way soon!