Header image courtesy of Netflix
Originally published by Sarah Moran. Last updated by Enoch Ngan.
True crime shows may be the reason you’re scared to walk home alone at night, but that sure hasn’t stopped the genre from growing in popularity. Audiences have grown addicted, obsessing over cold cases and scouring the internet for more information on the crimes. We’ve put together a list of the best true crime documentaries and films currently on Netflix Hong Kong that are worth re-watching over and over again.
Specialising in cold cases and paranormal phenomena, this cult classic first aired in 1987, riveting audiences with its immersive, character-driven stories that focused around the tales of ordinary people who have lived the unthinkable. Fortunately for nostalgic true crime buffs, Unsolved Mysteries has been picked up by Netflix for a 2020 reboot, and the series continues its quest of drawing viewers into their investigation and appealing to the public who might hold the clues to solving these enigmas. From ominous disappearances and cold-blooded murders to inexplicable alien encounters, the six-part series is undeniably arresting.
Think of the strangest story you’ve ever heard, then multiply it by 100, and maybe you’ll have a sense of how bizarre Netflix’s Abducted in Plain Sight is. Unfolding over 90 slow-burning minutes, this stranger-than-fiction documentary follows the Broberg family, whose manipulative but charming neighbour somehow gets away with kidnapping their pre-teen daughter. Twice. Involving adultery, paedophilia, aliens, and parents who are either blind or naive, this show contains enough mind-boggling twists to keep you hooked until the very end.
This under-the-radar documentary by Netflix has all the prerequisites for a gripping cult drama: a charismatic leader, loyal followers, a belief system that deviates from the norm—all culminating in events that lead to a horrifying ending. Wild Wild Country examines the case of the Rajneeshee movement, whose radical antics shook a small, quiet town in Oregon. Through historical footage and interviews with former members who held prominent roles, this fascinating documentary uncovers the stories behind this religious group who found fame in 1980s America for alleged bio-terror attacks, attempted murder, and more. Trust us, it’s as wild as it sounds.
Not to be confused with the Zac Efron-led Ted Bundy movie Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile, this four-part series from the same director explores the life and psyche of infamous serial killer Ted Bundy. Combining present-day interviews with surviving victims, archival news footage, and never-before-heard audio clips from interviews made during Bundy’s time on death row, The Ted Bundy Tapes form a searing portrait of the notorious serial killer and his heinous crimes against women.
On 28 November 1953, a 42-year-old scientist and CIA employee named Frank Olson plummeted to his death from New York City’s Statler Hotel. The death was ruled a suicide, but a 1975 report later tied his death to a secret government experiment. Was it an accident—or an assassination? Directed by Oscar-winning director Errol Morris, Wormwood explores Olson’s possible murder and the secret Cold War program known as MK-Ultra that he was reportedly involved with.
Based on a podcast of the same name, this harrowing eight-part series delves into the whirlwind romance between successful businesswoman Debra Newell and conman John Meehan—a.k.a. Dirty John. Within two months of dating, John manages to convince Debra to rent a beachfront home for them to live in together, a decision which is soon followed by an impulsive wedding in Las Vegas. Displeased by their fast-tracked relationship, her daughters investigate their mother’s new beau and prove that he’s a conman. As Deborah gets drawn deeper into John’s web of lies and deceit, things start to get ugly for the entire family. The show was such a hit that a second season with an entirely new cast and storyline has already been confirmed for 14 August.
After losing his son to a drug-related shooting, a small-town pharmacist launches into a stubborn mission to bring the murderer to justice after a lacklustre response from the official authorities. But what he uncovers about New Orleans’s opioid epidemic during his amateur investigation is enough for him to realise he’s in over his head. The Pharmacist takes us on a suspenseful journey with Dan Schneider, who beats all the odds on his dogged pursuit to bring national attention to the troubling realities behind Big Pharma’s prescription medicines and the irreversible havoc it wreaks on American communities.
Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich is a documentary television miniseries about convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. The miniseries is based on the 2016 book of the same name by James Patterson, and co-written by John Connolly and Tim Malloy. Over the course of four episodes, the documentary features interviews with several of Epstein’s survivors, including Virginia Giuffre and Maria Farmer, along with former staff members and former police chief Michael Reiter, a key individual from the first criminal case against Epstein.
Tackling the mammoth true crime phenomenon that has mystified our generation, The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann takes a detailed look at what is possibly the world’s most high-profile missing child case. Centred around three-year-old Madeleine McCann, who vanished from the seaside resort of Praia de Luz in Portugal while on holiday with her family, this eight-part documentary series leads you through the huge and ongoing police operation has taken place across much of Europe over the last 13 years in hopes of unearthing the truth behind her disappearance. From twists and turns that include a dizzying roster of suspects—with Madeleine’s parents and the head of the investigative unit among them—the documentary is sure to leave your head spinning with theories and conspiracies.
In November 1969, a Catholic nun disappeared, leaving a Maryland community in shock and dismay. More than 40 years after the case, this seven-episode true crime documentary series explores her unsolved murder, unravelling the scandals that went on behind closed doors at Baltimore’s Archbishop Keough High School, dissecting her former students’ belief that there was a cover-up by authorities during the investigation, and the misdeeds of A. Joseph Maskell, a priest at the high school who was sexually abusing students at the school. Directed by award-winning filmmaker Ryan White, The Keepers tackles a delicate and disturbing murder case, weaving its strings into an enthralling web of intrigue and suspense.
Since the release of Evan Peters’s viral Jeffrey Dahmer series, thousands of watchers have been curious about who the infamous serial killer was. Released in 2022, Conversations with a Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes follows the previous series iterations with notorious killers Ted Bundy and John Wayne. The grisly and chilling footage of Jeffrey Dahmer’s crimes is a nail-biting experience that only the mentally strongest can stomach.
With two seasons behind its name and an upcoming season just around the corner, Catching Killers has been a must-watch for all true crime addicts browsing through Netflix Hong Kong’s library. Each episode follows a series of investigators tracking down criminals through a trail of evidence and details. Every minute ramps up in harrowing intensity, guaranteeing that you will be left on the edge of your seat with every episode.