Netflix Documentary Watchlist

With Stranger Things and Luke Cage, and it starting to get wet and windy, we've re-subscribed to Netflix. With that, comes going through all the lists again compiling the ultimate watchlist to see my through the autumn. I've been on a true crime kick lately, so its been the documentaries this time. For every Blackfish and The Hunting Ground there are fifteen other documentaries that are just forgotten about.




I'm a bit of a true crime junkie, give me a sensational criminal case, murder is good, and I'm enthralled. My old man was pretty fascinated by Jonestown and Manson, and of course I was "that age" when the Fred and Rose West trial happened. I know its pretty twisted but I also know I'm not the only one. Netflix has a few good crime documentaries that AREN'T Making a Murderer, but are still definitely worth the watch. Some I've seen before and know are good ones on the subject, others are ones that have me intrigued enough to want more on the case.

Audrie & Daisy


This one actually popped up in my suggestions as I wrote this post, but its that good it made it to the top if the list. Like The Hunting Ground, it looks at rape culture in the USA, but this time on the High Schools, and the social media bullying of the victims that seems to follow the assaults, focusing in on two girls in particular. The first is Audrie Potts, who committed suicide after her assault, which was also filmed. Her family and friends speak on camera in her place, and also her attackers talk on camera as part of her story which is an unusual insight. The other, survivor Daisy Coleman, is compelling and devastating at the same time. She is blunt and forthright when speaking about her attack, and her family share how the situation impacted her and them. I actually cried and honestly, she seems so much stronger than i could be shes my hero. If none of the others, watch this.

Jonestown


The phrase "drink the Kool-aid" in reference to cults comes from the horrific events at Jonestown. The Reverend Jim Jones, who had taken his near 1000 strong socialist "temple" to Guyana to live in their own community, received a visit from a US Congressman who was visiting to allay the fears of family members of Jones' followers living in his constituency. What resulted was the largest loss of US civilian life until 9/11 and the only assassination of a sitting congressman. In this documentary they go over the events at Jim Jones Peoples Temple that lead to those events. It is pretty in depth and they have Jim Jones son (who survived by chance) talking about what it was like living in Jonestown as his father descended into madness and paranoia. Definitely the most interesting one I've seen on this subject.

Manson


If you didn't already know thanks to the many pop culture references around him, Charles Manson was a cult leader and racist in 1960's California who decided to try and start a race war with the brutal murders of rich white people (including Sharon Tate, the heavily pregnant wife of director Roman Polanski) that would be pinned on the African American community. Like Jonestown, this Manson documentary is notable as it has eyewitness testimony from Linda Kasabian - a Manson family member present at the Tate murders who turned states' evidence against the rest of the family. Linda had very rarely accepted to be interviewed so if you are at all interested in Charles Manson it is worth a watch.

West of Memphis


As someone who has followed this case since the 90's, I much prefer the three Paradise Lost documentaries on this case, but as an intro to WM3 case this is really good. Produced by Peter Jackson - yes THAT Peter Jackson -  this follows the story of three teenage boys, convicted of the murders of three young boys and eventually freed in the most bizarre plea arrangement I've heard of. It is likely a story you've heard of, if not directly then indirectly, but rather than go over the satanic panic mania that accompanied the original trial making it a cause celebre this film goes more into the story that emerged over time AFTER the 1994 conviction. If you liked Making a Murderer you're likely to enjoy this.

Children of God


Not so much a crime documentary as much as a documentary that covers some crimes, but I include it here because its worth a watch. The Children of God cult was one I head heard about but was never big in my mind. I knew about it because River & Joaquin Phoenix and Rose McGowan all grew up within the cult but I knew nothing about other than cult = bad. Following several generations of a family within the cult it details the brainwashing and abuses - both of power and sexual abuse - within this cult which had a place in pop culture history now thanks to former members.

End of the World Cult


Another cult one, In this case one that was being looked into by the film makers due to suspicions that they might be about to commit mass suicide. Instead, inside "Strong City" they found a man claiming to be the messiah, sleeping with most of the female members and then charged with sexual contact with young teenage girls within the cult. Already inside, the documentary investigates the history of the cult as well as the process of the trial of the leader.

Talhotblond


A rather bizarre murder case involving a man experiencing a midlife crisis getting involved with a young girl online, his alter ego taking over his real life and the co worker who got in the middle of the ultimate fallout when the girl figured out her online boyfriend wasn't who he said he was. Started watching because netflix said I might like it and I was on a roll. Apparently it was a pretty big case at the time but knowing nothing of it I found it compelling viewing.

Cropsey


Everyone had their own version of the boogeyman, the weirdo that kidnapped kids or the escaped mental patient or whomever it was. The stuff the best urban legends are made of is the stuff that scared us as kids, and this film tells a very personal story of how eerily similar their childhood boogeyman was to child disappearances and an infamous murder that happened in their home town. Really well presented, not the "found footage" fakery of Blair Witch, but the same sort of chills of that, the creepiness of  the old stories that turn out to be connected to real horror. There are shades of American Horror Story Asylum to the story also, as it does concern a horrifically abusive state institution for disabled people, Only its all true.

Galapagos Affair


Another one that kept popping up on watch next, I've popped it on here simply because after ignoring it because it looked a bit crap, after finally watching it I actually found it pretty interesting. In 1929 a German doctor and his mistress both left their spouses and set up together living on the Galapagos Island of Floreana. Three years later they were joined by a German family, and a lady who called herself the baroness, along with her two lovers. And then the disagreements started in the small community and some of Floreana's new residents disappeared. Odd mystery with a really good voice cast reading from the journals and other writing left by the parties involved.

My Brothers Bomber


Ken Dornstein had previously written a book about losing his brother David Dornstein on Pan Am 103, but in this three part mini-series he goes looking for more answers about the Lockerbie bombing following the Arab Spring and the fall of Gaddafi. Interesting from the point of view of not only the bombing itself but also the unfurling situation in Libya (he visits several times over a few years) Dornstein attempts to meet with the only person convicted of the bombing and unearth documents that may now be accessible in the new Libya. A really interesting look at it, there is no assumption that you know much about it which is new to me in other Lockerbie documentaries I have seen.

Who took Johnny


Johnny Gosch was a paperboy who went missing in 1982 when he was 12 years old. What made his documentary about his disappearence and the following events interesting to me was in 1982 no one worried when he didn't come home. Police effectively ignored people saying they had seen him being taken, insisting he had likely just run off. The abduction was linked to organised pedophilia which was something unknown of at the time, which made it interesting to me on that level. A kid taken by an abuse ring before people were aware of abuse rings and how people reacted to the whole thing. Things get a little strange in the story toward the end, but still a good watch.


If you have any suggestions for me on others to watch, leave me comments!

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