There is something eerie and thrilling about horror documentaries that we cannot just have enough of, can we? Despite giving us the creeps and reminding us of the existence of evil, be it in any form, such documentaries take us on an exploration of the human psyche that we behold in awe. Needless to say, such explorations often take the form of the supernatural or the paranormal, whether it be so in reality. Here, we bring you the best horror documentaries available on HBO Max.
16. Devil in Suburbia (2022- )
From neighbor to best friend to mentor, evil takes many forms in the episodes of this engrossing true crime series. ‘Devil in Suburbia’ explores the shocking events that took place in otherwise idyllic neighborhoods and scarred the lives of the ones who were subjected to it forever. Every episode offers a new case and using interviews with family members, officials, and archival footage, we are provided with a clear view of what transpired. You can stream the series here.
15. Mysteries of the Abandoned (2017-)
Narrated by Steven Kearney, ‘Mysteries of the Abandoned explores the world’s most insane man-made marvels that have been abandoned and yet carry the same mysterious aura. From warships to Soviet megastructures to monoliths to prisons to towns and many more, the series looks into the darkness that befell them and has earned them the badge of being scary if not haunted. You can watch the series here.
14. The Curious Case of Natalia Grace (2023–2024)
Directed by Christian Conway and Jackson Conway, this docu-series deals with a certainly curious case wherein Natalia Grace, a Ukrainian orphan, was adopted in 2010 by the Barnetts (Michael and Kristine), an Indiana couple who then accused her of being an adult and a violent one at that. Grace had dwarfism, and in the show, it is revealed through DNA testing that she was 9 years old when the Barnetts adopted her and not an adult. To find out how things unfolded in the case that became a national sensation when word got out in 2014, you can watch the series here.
13. Häxan (1922)
A documentary/fiction hybrid directed by Benjamin Christensen, ‘Häxan’ is a silent film that explores witchcraft and the superstitions surrounding it through the ages (from the Middle Ages to the 20th century). Showing how the so-called witches showed the same signs as those seen in psychiatric patients, Christensen upholds a hypothesis that is a need-to-know for all. A masterpiece that seamlessly brings together the scientific and the supernatural, ‘Häxan’ is a must-watch. You can experience it right here.
12. The Iceman Tapes: Conversations with a Killer (1992)
This 47-minute documentary is basically an interview with American criminal Richard Kuklinski, also known as “The Iceman,” who killed more than 100 people and died in prison on March 5, 2006, while serving two life sentences. He stated that he even worked for the Mafia, the Gambino crime family of New York, to be precise, something he kept a secret from his family. He seemed to be involved in the disappearance of Teamsters’ president, Jimmy Hoffa, the subject of Martin Scorsese’s Netflix film ‘The Irishman.’ Kuklinski was arrested on December 17, 1986. To know more about him and his exploits, you can watch ‘The Iceman Tapes: Conversations with a Killer’ here.
11. Thought Crimes: The Case of the Cannibal Cop (2015)
This strange and scary documentary is about Gilberto Valle, a former NYPD cop, who was arrested on October 25, 2012, on charges of planning to kidnap and eat women (yes, you heard it right). He was reported to the authorities by his wife, who found his horrifying chats about rape, murder, and cannibalism on a forum called Dark Fetish Net which was dedicated to sexual fantasies and fetishes. This is what earned him the name “Cannibal Cop” in the media. While he was ultimately acquitted because there was no proof that Valle’s chats went beyond fantasies, between his arrest and trial conclusion, he had to spend 21 months in prison. You can watch ‘Thought Crimes: The Case of the Cannibal Cop’ right here.
10. Savior Complex (2023)
This 3-episode docuseries is directed by Jackie Jesko and follows the investigation into Serving His Children, an NGO founded by Renee Bach (from Virginia) in 2009 in southeast Uganda, and the allegations it faced. While it offers free meals for malnourished children as well as treats them, more than 100 children died on the NGO’s watch, something that is attributed to Bach not having any medical qualification. To know more about Bach and the case, you can watch the series here.
9. Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children (2020)
This 5-episode docuseries offers a never-before-seen look at the Atlanta murders, also known as Atlanta child murders, which occurred between 1979 and 1981. At least 30 people, 18 of them being minors, were strangled to death. Wayne Williams, a young adult and an Atlanta native, was convicted of 2 adult murders and is currently serving two consecutive life sentences for the same at Telfair State Prison, Georgia. He wasn’t tried for the death of the minors, but they were attributed to him by the cops. You can watch the series here.
8. Dr. Delirium And The Edgewood Experiments (2022)
Directed by Nick Brigden, this dark documentary shows the human experiments carried out by the U.S. government on its soldiers from 1955 to 1975. Via exclusive archival footage and numerous first-hand accounts, including that of Dr. James Ketchum, who was involved in the experiments at Edgewood Arsenal, a classified U.S. Army facility in Maryland. At the site, soldiers were subjected to teargas, LSD, VX, PCP, and sarin, as well as other psychotic drugs. The footage reveals soldiers going temporarily blind, among other outcomes, to the point of doing self-harm. You can watch ‘Dr. Delirium And The Edgewood Experiments’ here.
7. I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth v. Michelle Carter (2019)
This 2-part documentary is directed by Erin Lee Carr and follows the death of 18-year-old Conrad Roy, who died by suicide on July 12, 2014. He was encouraged by his girlfriend, 17-year-old Michelle Carter, via text, one of the many she sent him along with emails and phone calls. Carter was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and served 11 months in prison. The question is, can some calls and texts be the reason that made Roy take his own life? Or was there more to it than meets the eye? To find out, you can watch ‘I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth v. Michelle Carter’ here.
6. Capturing the Friedmans (2003)
Directed by Andrew Jarecki, ‘Capturing the Friedmans’ is an Oscar-nominated documentary that explores the 1987 case of child pornography that involved Arnold Friedman and his adult son Jesse. The investigation began in 1984 after a child pornography magazine was intercepted by the US Postal Service that was to be delivered at Friedman’s place. In 1987, the authorities searched his residence in Great Neck, New York, and found more such magazines. Moreover, many of the preteen boys whom Friedman and Jesse used to teach in their home stated that they had been physically and sexually abused by both. Eventually, it was Friedman’s family who doubted him and got him to tell the truth. He thus pleaded guilty to the charges, and so did Jesse. Both were sentenced to prison and while Friedman died in prison in 1995, Jesse was released in 2001 after 13 years of imprisonment. You can watch the ‘Capturing the Friedmans’ here.
5. Beware the Slenderman (2016)
Directed by Irene Taylor Brodsky, ‘Beware the Slenderman’ is based on the Slender Man stabbing case. On May 31, 2014, 12-year-old girls Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser stabbed their friend Payton Leutner 19 times after luring her into a forest. The two girls did this to appease a fictional supernatural character called the Slender Man. Leutner somehow survived after having managed to crawl to a road nearby and was found and brought to a hospital. The documentary includes interviews with the families of the two girls who committed the crime as well as videos about the Slender Man from YouTube, which is where it originated. Weier and Geyser were charged but found not guilty by mental disorder defense and sent to mental health institutions.
Slender Man is a featureless man, tall, thin, and white. He wears a black suit and is supposed to hide in forests. The character was created by Eric Knudsen (pseudonym “Victor Surge”) on June 10, 2009, for a Photoshop paranormal image contest on the American comedy website Something Awful (SA), followed by which more myths about it were created by others. You can watch ‘Beware the Slenderman’ here.
4. Mommy Dead and Dearest (2017)
Directed by Erin Lee Carr, ‘Mommy Dead and Dearest’ showcases the shocking case of the murder of Dee Dee Blanchard by her 23-year-old daughter Gypsy-Rose and her boyfriend Nicholas Godejohn on June 9, 2015. According to reports, Gypsy-Rose was constantly abused physically and psychologically by her mother, who passed her daughter off as ill and associated her with different kinds of conditions: premature birth, asthma, and leukemia. Gypsy-Rose and Nicholas Godejohn pled guilty and were sent to prison. The documentary shows the extent to which Gypsy-Rose was abused for years by Blanchard, Blanchard’s murder, and the aftermath. You can watch ‘Mommy Dead and Dearest’ here.
3. Ken and Barbie Killers: The Lost Murder Tapes (2021)
Directed by Jim Nally, ‘Ken and Barbie Killers: The Lost Murder Tapes’ is a 4-episode docuseries that tells the chilling story of married couple Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka, who were responsible for at least three murders and 14 rapes between 1986 and 1992. All the victims were teenage girls who were brutally tortured and raped. Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka were eventually sent to prison. To find out what kind of humans would do such heinous acts, you can watch ‘Ken and Barbie Killers: The Lost Murder Tapes’ here.
2. The Cheshire Murders (2013)
This documentary explores the horrific Cheshire Murders that took place in Cheshire, Connecticut, on July 23, 2007. Linda Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky broke into the residence of Dr. William Petit, his wife Jennifer, and their daughters, 7-year-old Hayley Petit and 11-year-old Michaela Petit, sexually assaulted Jennifer (who was then strangled to death) and Michaela, and lit the house on fire before escaping. Only William Petit survived. Through numerous accounts and interviews, we get an in-depth look into the incident and its aftermath, including the analysis of the case and how the cops could have saved the victims but didn’t. Their actions, along with Connecticut’s take on the death penalty being unconstitutional, made for a politically charged trial that ended with both criminals being sentenced to life. You can watch ‘The Cheshire Murders’ here.
1. Behind Closed Doors (2017)
Based on the 2008 unsolved double-murder case of Noida, India, that shook the whole country, ‘Behind Closed Doors’ is a two-part documentary that looks into the murder of 13-year-old girl Aarushi Talwar and 45-year-old man Hemraj Banjade, the live-in servant of the Talwar household. A whodunit whose flames were fanned by the media, the case’s investigation eventually led to the imprisonment of Arushi’s parents despite there being evidence suggesting that they were the ones responsible. Salacious allegations abound; the case is one of the most intriguing and shocking unsolved murder cases in India’s history. You can watch ‘Behind Closed Doors’ here.
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