12 True-Crime Docs on Amazon Prime Video You Might Lose Sleep Over
You know that feeling you get when you see the words "based on a true story" at the end of a horror film, right before the credits roll? Well, these true-crime documentaries will have you feeling all those chills and goosebumps the whole way through. Gone are the days when true crime was a genre for lazy Sunday afternoons, because if you try to watch these documentaries in the background, or while you try to take a nap, it's safe to say you'll end up at the edge of your seat with your eyes peeled instead.
Each of these true-crime documentaries on Amazon Prime Video covers a different chilling real-life tragedy. Some of their subjects have become well-known parts of the fabric of American history, while others cover lesser-known tragedies, many of which have had significant effects on the justice system in the United States and across the world. Regardless, all of them are layered and morally complex enough to have you theorizing and texting about them for weeks.
If you're looking for a true-crime documentary that will truly make you think while also keeping you up until morning, ahead are 12 of the best true-crime documentaries currently available to stream on Prime Video.
"The Murder of Meredith Kercher"
It took six years of trials to reach a final verdict on the murder of British study-abroad student Meredith Kercher. This documentary chronicles her full story from the day she was tragically killed in her Perugia apartment leading up to the incrimination of her American roommate, Amanda Knox.
"American Tragedy" explores the Columbine school shooting from the perspective of Sue Klebold, the mother of one of the shooters, Dylan Klebold, whom she once lovingly called "Sunshine Boy." Grappling with the grief over the son she thought she knew and remorse for the innocent lives he took, this documentary highlights the lessons Klebold learned as the mother of a school shooter and what Americans can take away from the tragedy.
"Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father"
In this heart-wrenching documentary, filmmaker Kurt Kuenne tells the story of his childhood friend Andrew Bagby, who was murdered by his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Shirley Turner. Through a series of interviews with the people who were closest to Bagby, "Dear Zachary" unravels the complicated custody battle between Bagby's killer and his grieving parents, while serving as a cinematic scrapbook for the son who never got the chance to know him.
"You Belong to Me: Sex, Race and Murder in the South"
This documentary takes us back to Live Oak, FL, in the year 1952, when a Black woman named Ruby McCollum killed her white physician, Dr. Clifford Leroy, after years of sexual abuse. A case that haunted the jurors and even the prosecutors, McCollum's trial and incarceration shed light on the systemic racism and paramour rights of the Jim Crow era.
This four-part documentary from executive producer Jordan Peele features the story of Lorena Bobbitt, who sliced off her husband's penis in 1993 following years of domestic abuse. In light of the scandal being turned into nothing but a national joke, "Lorena" is a reinvestigation of the sexual assault and moral issues that were largely ignored in the media's coverage of the case.
"The Imposter" recounts the twisted case of Frédéric Bourdin, who exploited one family's grief over the disappearance of their 13-year-old son, Nicholas Barclay, to get the childhood he never had. In a series of interviews, Bourdin himself explains how he was able to successfully convince Spanish and American officials as well as many of Barclay's family members of his identity despite being French with brown eyes and dark hair, instead of American with blue eyes and blond hair.
"No Place to Hide: The Rehtaeh Parsons Story"
Through the eyes of Rehtaeh Parsons's parents, "No Place to Hide" re-examines the criminal case that led to Canada's illegalization of cyberbullying. From Parsons's sexual assault to the police investigation and her subsequent suicide, this documentary examines police indifference toward sexual-assault cases.
Fifty years after his sister's violent murder, William Genovese narrates "The Witness," covering the investigation of the widely publicized stabbing that took place in Queens, NY. Through accounts from the 38 witnesses, this documentary breaks down the truth and the long-held public opinion of Kitty Genovese's 1964 death.
"Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four"
"Southwest of Salem" examines the wrongful convictions of Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera, Kristie Mayhugh, and Anna Vasquez, four lesbians who allegedly gang-raped two young girls. After 15 years of fighting for their innocence behind bars, a pivotal court hearing debunked the scientific evidence that had been used against them.
"Unseen" depicts the Cleveland Police Department's astonishing 2009 discovery of 11 women's bodies decomposing at the home of known sex offender Anthony Sowell. Through the investigation, this documentary addresses the invisibility of marginalized women and why society turned a blind eye to the killing spree they were victim to.
"I Don't Like Mondays"
After 16-year-old Brenda Spencer was charged with murder for the Cleveland Elementary School shooting, she infamously told officials, "I don't like Mondays. This livens up the day." This documentary explores Spencer's case, from her disturbing confessions to the conditionality of her imprisonment.
What happens when an urban legend from your childhood becomes real? That's the question at the heart of "Cropsey," which traces the New York City legend about a boogeyman named Cropsey that became all too relevant when children started going missing from Staten Island. The documentary explores the roots of the myth, the disappearances, and the mysterious man eventually convicted of the kidnappings.