Ranked: The best true crime documentaries on Netflix, according to Rotten Tomatoes
Hours of cases that will blow your mind
Netflix has become known as one of the best places to get your fix of true crime. Just when you think there can’t possibly be any more twisted and chilling cases going on in the world that you’ve never heard of, Netflix will pull out another one which will prove you wrong.
There’s everything from murder, to false confessions and mafias to child criminals. But what are the ultimate best true crime series and films that Netflix has to offer? Here is a full ranking of the best true crime documentaries and docuseries on Netflix right now, according to their score on Rotten Tomatoes.
16. American Murder: The Family Next Door – 85 per cent
American Murder: The Family Next Door scores 85 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes. The true crime film covers the case of the Watts family killings. In 2018, Chris Watts murdered his pregnant wife Shanann and their two young daughters. It was believed he did it so he could be with his other girlfriend, Nichol Kessinger, forever. It recently became the most watched Netflix doc feature ever, having been viewed by 52 million households.
15. Tiger King: Murder Mayhem and Madness – 86 per cent
Everyone remembers where they were the first time they were introduced to Joe Exotic. What started off as an inside look into the world of big cat owners, ended up being a true crime series ending in a murder-to-hire plot and Exotic being sentenced to 22 years in jail. Tiger King is one of Netflix’s most watched shows ever with 64 million hits, and is one of the top scoring on Rotten Tomatoes with 86 per cent.
14. Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened – 92 per cent
Fyre Festival was the 2017 music event that never happened. It was meant to be the best festival the world had ever seen, on a beautiful island in the Bahamas. The founder called it: “The biggest event of the decade, I promise you.” The promotional videos showed gorgeous Instagram models parading around on beaches, having parties and eating incredible food. But what greeted people that got there was a disaster scene: collapsing tents, soaked mattresses and no festival. The event had been promoted on Instagram by famous super models and influencers – but yeah, it was all a lie.
The festival might have been awful, but the doc gets 92 per cent.
13. The Staircase – 94 per cent
The Staircase is a 13-episode, Netflix true crime docuseries about the 2001 death of novelist Michael Peterson’s wife, Kathleen Peterson. He claimed she died after falling down the stairs at their home, but a medical examiner determined she had been beaten with a weapon, which led to Peterson becoming a suspect in what would become a murder investigation. It’s a classic Netflix true crime series, which is reflected in its 94 per cent Rotten Tomatoes score.
12. Surviving R-Kelly – 95 per cent
Surviving R-Kelly has scored 95 per cent. The six part documentary is all about sexual and physical abuse claims against R Kelly and includes interviews with several women who recall their experiences.
Some of the historic allegations against him include marrying a minor, inducing someone into an indecent sexual relationship, videotaping him having sex with a woman without her knowledge and selling the tape, making child pornography and trapping six women in a sex “cult”.
11. Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator – 96 per cent
Just out of the top 10 with 96 per cent is Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator. The hour and a half show looks into Bikram Choudhury’s hot yoga empire and the claims that have been made against him. It also looks at how his empire was built and features interviews with women who say he abused them, as well as journalists and those close to Bikram Choudhury.
10. Tell Me Who I Am – 97 per cent
Tell Me Who I Am is a true story about twin brothers Alex and Marcus Lewis. Age 18, Alex Lewis was in a motorbike accident. He lost all his memory prior to the accident, and could only remember that Marcus was his twin brother. The documentary is split into two acts. In act one, Alex narrates his version of events and in act two, Marcus tells his.
Marcus had to retell Alex’s entire life to him and in act two, the audience discovers Marcus hasn’t been telling the entire truth and has been covering up a darker side of their childhood to protect him.
9. The Keepers – 97 per cent
The Keepers is a seven-episode series based on the murder of a nun, Sister Cathy Cesnik. The mystery of her death remains unsolved. The series was released in May 2017, and has been called Netflix’s best true crime docuseries to date. It’s not quite the best on Rotten Tomatoes though, but is very close, scoring 97 per cent.
8. Wild Wild Country – 98 per cent
Wild Wild Country is a six-part docuseries about the controversial Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. He bought a plot of land in the Oregon desert and attempted to build a utopian society in 1981. He had built brand new homes that could house over 7,000 residents and the plan was to develop a food supply, police and fire stations, restaurants and a small airport. It scores so close to the perfect rating, but falls just short with 98 per cent.
7. November 13: Attack On Paris – 100 per cent
Filmmakers Jules and Gédéon Naudet direct this three-part documentary that explores the human stories behind the Paris terrorist attacks of November 13th 2015. It’s been given the perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes.
6. The Confession Tapes – 100 per cent
The Confession Tapes is all about when a confession isn’t a confession – when it’s involuntary, coerced or downright false. Each of the six subjects in the series someway or another have given a false confession, and experts are interviewed including criminal law, miscarriages of justice, and psychology professionals.
5. The Innocence Files – 100 per cent
The Innocence Files scores the perfect rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The nine-part series aims to expose the American criminal justice system and focuses on wrongful convictions. There are eight cases explored in The Innocence Files and they look at the reasons why the convictions happened such as flawed evidence, misconduct and eyewitnesses wrongfully identifying the accused.
4. The Confession Killer – 100 per cent
Another top scoring series is the five-parter, The Confession Killer, which tells the story of Henry Lee Lucas. He was first put into prison for murdering his mother, and then for the murders of his girlfriend and landlord. However when he was in prison he started confessing to more and more killings. The number got up to 100, then 150, then 300 and it wasn’t long before Lucas said he was responsible for over 600 deaths all over America. But, his confessions weren’t true.
3. Time: The Kalief Browder Story – 100 per cent
Another 100 per cent scoring doc is Time: The Kalief Browder Story. The six part series is about Kalief Browder, a high school student who was sent to prison and solitary confinement without even having been convicted of a crime. He was accused of nothing more than stealing a backpack, but his family couldn’t afford his bail.
2. Dirty Money – 100 per cent
There are six episodes in each of the two seasons of Dirty Money on Netflix, each an hour long and covering a different story. They basically all tell the story of different dirty money cases (obviously). Think money laundering, corporate corruption, securities fraud and dodgy accounting.
1. Athlete A – 100 per cent
Athlete A is ranked as the equal best documentary ever produced by Netflix. On Rotten Tomatoes it is described as: “Harrowing yet essential viewing, Athlete A shines an unforgiving light on horrific abuses — as well as the culture that allowed them to continue unabated for years.” The documentary exposes Dr. Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse of young gymnasts.
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