20 Best Movies Based on True Crime on Lifetime

True crime stories bewitch us with their blend of mystery, drama, and raw human emotion, and Lifetime’s collection has perfected the art of bringing these tales to our screen. Have a look at our curated list of best movies based on true crime that are available for streaming on Lifetime. These films go beyond simply recounting notorious crimes; they delve into the psychological and emotional depths of the people involved, painting a vivid picture of real-life drama. From high-profile cases that gripped the nation to lesser-known stories with equally compelling narratives, each movie offers a unique perspective on the complexities of justice.

20. Menendez: Blood Brothers (2017)

‘Menendez: Blood Brothers’ is a gripping actual crime film directed by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato. It delves into the infamous case of Lyle and Erik Menendez, brothers who brutally murdered their wealthy parents, José and Kitty Menendez, in Beverly Hills in 1989. The film explores the complex family dynamics and allegations of parental abuse that surfaced during the trial. The cast features Benito Martinez as José Menéndez, Courtney Love as Kitty Menendez, Nico Tortorella as Lyle Menendez, and Myko Olivier as Erik Menendez. You can watch the film here.

19. Fab Five: The Texas Cheerleader Scandal (2008)

Fab Five: The Texas Cheerleader Scandal‘ is a dramatic retelling of a real-life incident/scandal concerning a group of five mean senior girls/cheerleaders at North McKinney High School in Texas in 2006. Directed by Tom McLoughlin, the movie stars Tatum O’Neal as Principal Lorene Tippit, who faces off against a group of rebellious cheerleaders led by Brooke Tippit (Ashley Benson). The film highlights the toxic culture and misconduct among the cheerleaders, who were notorious for their unruly behavior and rule-breaking antics, exposing the challenges of maintaining discipline and integrity in the face of peer pressure and social media influence. You can watch the film here.

18. Happy Face Killer (2014)

‘Happy Face Killer’ is a chilling true crime drama that delves into the mind of one of America’s most notorious serial killers, Keith Jesperson, responsible for murdering at least eight women in the US during the 1990s. Directed by Rick Bota, the film stars David Arquette in a haunting portrayal of Jesperson, who earned his nickname by drawing smiley faces on his confession letters sent to authorities. Jesperson’s twisted journey from a long-haul truck driver to a cold-blooded murderer is brought to life with gripping intensity. The movie also features Gloria Reuben as FBI agent Melinda Gand, determined to stop his killing spree. Based on real events, ‘Happy Face Killer’ is an exploration of the darkness lurking behind a seemingly ordinary facade. You can watch it here.

17. Oscar Pistorius: Blade Runner Killer (2017)

In ‘Oscar Pistorius: Blade Runner Killer,’ audiences are taken on a harrowing journey through the life of the famed South African Paralympic champion whose legacy was tarnished by a shocking crime. Directed by Norman Stone, the film stars Andreas Damm as Pistorius and Toni Garrn as Reeva Steenkamp, his ill-fated girlfriend. The story unfolds the events of the fateful night of February 14, 2013, when Pistorius fatally shot Steenkamp, asserting he mistook her for an intruder. Through a detailed depiction of the ensuing trial and media storm, the movie provides an in-depth look at the dramatic rise and fall of a sports icon, highlighting the controversies of this high-profile case. You can watch ‘Oscar Pistorius: Blade Runner Killer’ here.

16. A Killer Among Us (2012)

A Killer Among Us‘ offers a suspenseful look into a family’s worst nightmare, unraveling the mystery of a mother Helen’s brutal murder. She was found dead in her home on March 6, 1992. Directed by Bradley Walsh, this thriller stars Tess Atkins as teenager Alex, who becomes entangled in the investigation after her mother’s death. With the help of detective Joseph Moran (Boris Kodjoe), who doubts Alex’s father, Nick (Tom Cavanagh), for the crime, Alex uncovers dark secrets and hidden truths about her family. As suspicions grow, the tension escalates, leading to a shocking revelation about the killer’s identity. Based on real events, ‘A Killer Among Us’ masterfully combines emotional depth with a strong narrative, keeping viewers on edge until the very end. You can check out the movie here.

15. Girl Fight (2011)

Girl Fight‘ dives into the alarming world of teen violence, portraying the harrowing true story of a high school girl brutally attacked by her peers, which occurred in Florida in 2008. Directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal, the film features Anne Heche as the distressed mother, Melissa Macklin, and Jodelle Ferland as her daughter, Haley Macklin, the victim of a vicious assault recorded and shared on social media. The plot follows Melissa’s relentless pursuit of justice as she navigates a community in denial and a legal system struggling to keep up with digital-age crimes. ‘Girl Fight’ is a powerful exploration of bullying, the impact of social media, and a family’s fight for accountability, delivering a poignant and thought-provoking narrative. You can watch ‘Girl Fight’ here.

14. Restless Virgins (2013)

‘Restless Virgins’ offers a provocative glimpse into the lives of privileged prep school students whose secrets explode into a public scandal. Directed by Jason Lapeyre, the film stars Vanessa Marano and Charlie Carver as students caught in the web of a sex tape scandal that rocks an elite New England boarding school. The story revolves around the pressures and moral complexities faced by the students, exposing the dark underbelly of wealth and privilege. ‘Restless Virgins’ not only highlights the sensationalism of the scandal but also critically examines the broader issues of consent, privacy, and the repercussions of youthful indiscretions in the digital age. You can check out the movie here.

13. Abducted: The Carlina White Story (2012)

‘Abducted: The Carlina White Story’ stands out as a poignant portrayal of resilience and identity in the face of adversity. Directed by Vondie Curtis-Hall, the film follows the true story of Carlina White, abducted as an infant in August 1987 and raised by her kidnapper Ann Pettway (Aunjanue Ellis), White’s realization and her subsequent search for her biological parents, Joy White (Sherri Shepherd) and Carl Tyson (Roger Cross), that came to fruition 23 years later in January 2011. The movie skillfully weaves the emotional complexities of the case, from the heart-wrenching separation to the triumphant reunion. Through its storytelling and powerful performances, ‘Abducted: The Carlina White Story’ not only sheds light on the horrors of child abduction but also celebrates the strength of the human spirit in the pursuit of truth and identity. You can watch the film on Hulu.

12. Baby Sellers (2013)

In ‘Baby Sellers,’ viewers are thrust into the murky underworld of human trafficking with a focus on the harrowing trade of newborns. Directed by Nick Willing, the film sheds light on the disturbing realities faced by vulnerable women and children caught in the web of exploitation. Jennifer Finnigan delivers a staunch performance as the determined ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agent Nicole Morrison, who risks everything to bring down an illegal child adoption center run by a woman named Carla Huxley (Kirstie Alley). ‘Baby Sellers’ exposes the dark underbelly of greed and corruption, prompting audiences to confront the ethical dilemmas surrounding international adoption and the commodification of human life. You can watch ‘Baby Sellers’ here.

11. Britney Ever After (2017)

While ‘Britney Ever After’ is not a quintessential true-crime story, it taps into the tumultuous life of pop icon Britney Spears, highlighting the intense scrutiny and exploitation she faced under the media spotlight. The film portrays the darker aspects of fame, including the pressures of stardom, mental health struggles, and the paparazzi-fueled frenzy that ultimately led to Spears’ highly publicized breakdown. Directed by Leslie Libman, the biographical drama features Natasha Bassett as Britney Spears, chronicling her rise to superstardom, personal challenges, and eventual comeback. Despite its dramatized elements, ‘Britney Ever After’ offers a sobering reflection on the perils of celebrity culture and the consequences of relentless tabloid scrutiny. The most heinous crime here is the harassment from the public which drives a person insane. You can watch the film here.

10. Drew Peterson: Untouchable (2012)

‘Drew Peterson: Untouchable’ is a riveting true crime drama that is about the haunting story of Drew Peterson, a former police officer who was convicted of murdering his third wife, Kathleen Savio (murdered in 2004; played by Cara Buono) and suspected in the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Ann Cales (disappeared in 2009; played by Kaley Cuoco). Adapted from a real-life case that shocked the nation, the film unravels Peterson’s facade as a charming lawman and reveals the dark secrets lurking beneath. Directed by Mikael Salomon, the movie features Rob Lowe in a chilling portrayal of Peterson, capturing the manipulative tactics and predatory behavior that ultimately led to his downfall. You can watch ‘Drew Peterson: Untouchable’ here.

9. Who Killed JonBenét? (2016)

‘Who Killed JonBenét?’ presents an examination of one of the most perplexing unsolved mysteries in American history. This true crime documentary film reopens the case of six-year-old beauty pageant queen JonBenét Ramsey (Payton Lepinski), whose brutal murder in December 1996 continues to haunt the nation. The film sifts through the evidence, explores the various theories, and sheds light on the complex dynamics surrounding the Ramsey family and the investigation led by Detective Steve Thomas (Eion Bailey). What makes it a standout true crime story is its ability to provoke thought, spark debate, and keep viewers on the edge of their seats as they seek answers to the enduring question: ‘Who killed JonBenét?’ You can watch the film here.

8. Taken From Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story (2011)

In ‘Taken From Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story,’ viewers are immersed in the journey of a mother’s relentless pursuit to reunite with her abducted son. Based on true events from 2008, the film follows Taraji P. Henson’s Tiffany Rubin as she embarks on a daring mission to rescue her six-year-old son, Kobe, from his father, Jeff (Tifany’s ex; played by Sean Baek), who kidnapped him from his Queens home and took him to South Korea. Directed by Gary Harvey, the movie resonates with themes of maternal love, resilience, and the strength of the human spirit in the face of adversity. Brimming with compelling storytelling and heartfelt performances, ‘Taken From Me’ engages audiences with its emotional depth and serves as a testament to the power of a mother’s love. You can watch it here.

7. I Am Elizabeth Smart (2017)

‘I Am Elizabeth Smart’ offers a raw and intimate portrayal of the harrowing ordeal faced by Elizabeth Smart, who was abducted on June 5, 2002, by a married couple, Mitchell (Skeet Ulrich) and Wanda (Deirdre Lovejoy), when she was just fourteen, and was found 9 months later, no more than 20 miles from her home in Utah. The film provides a deeply personal perspective, depicting Smart’s courage and resilience in the face of unimaginable trauma underscored by regular assault and rape. Owing to its well-crafted narrative and authentic performances, it sheds light on the complications of her experience and the challenges of reclaiming her life after captivity. Directed by Sarah Walker, the film stars Alana Boden as young Elizabeth Smart. The story is narrated by the real Elizabeth Smart, who is currently a child safety activist and an ABC News commentator. This true story unfolds with emotional depth, leaving a lasting impact on viewers. You can watch ‘I Am Elizabeth Smart’ here.

6. Who is Clark Rockefeller? (2010)

‘Who is Clark Rockefeller?’ is a television film directed by Mikael Salomon, based on the true story of Christian Gerhartsreiter, a German murderer/impostor who assumed various identities, including that of a member of the Rockefeller family, one of the world’s wealthiest families and a renowned name in the American petroleum industry. The film stars Eric McCormack as Gerhartsreiter/Rockefeller and features a supporting cast that includes Sherry Stringfield and Stephen McHattie. It chronicles Gerhartsreiter’s life during the 1990s as he moves from one fraudulent identity to another, culminating in his kidnapping of his own daughter. The film’s reconstruction of Gerhartsreiter’s deceptions and the suspense surrounding his motivations make it a catchy true crime tale that bewitches viewers with its exploration of the depths of human deception. You can watch it here.

5. Girl in the Bunker (2018)

‘Girl in the Bunker’ is about the chilling true story of 14-year-old Elizabeth Shoaf, who was abducted on September 6, 2006, and held captive in an underground bunker and raped for ten days by a guy named Vinson Filyaw. Directed by Stephen Kemp, the film offers an unpolished and accurate portrayal of Elizabeth’s (Julia Lalonde) courage and resourcefulness as she fights for survival against Filyaw (Henry Thomas). Utilizing a tension-filled screenplay, it provides a harrowing glimpse into the darkness of captivity and the strength of the human spirit. Through powerful performances, ‘Girl in the Bunker’ captures the heart-wrenching reality of Elizabeth’s ordeal and her remarkable journey to freedom. You can watch the film here.

4. Cocaine Godmother: The Griselda Blanco Story (2017)

In ‘Cocaine Godmother: The Griselda Blanco Story,’ audiences are immersed in the ruthless world of drug trafficking through the eyes of one of its most notorious figures, Colombian drug lord Griselda Blanco, who ran her cocaine trade from Miami between the 1970s to the early 2000s. Directed by Guillermo Navarro, the film offers a gripping portrayal of Griselda Blanco’s ascent from poverty to becoming one of the most powerful and feared drug lords in history. With Catherine Zeta-Jones delivering a mesmerizing performance as Blanco, viewers are taken on a journey through her twisted and tumultuous life, exploring the highs of her criminal empire and the lows of her personal struggles. Through its gritty storytelling and thorough character study, ‘Cocaine Godmother’ sheds light on the dark realities of the drug trade and the evils of power and ambition. The film co-stars Raúl Méndez, Juan Pablo Espinosa, and Warren Christie. You can watch it here.

3. Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story (2003)

‘Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story’ stands out as an inspiring true tale of overcoming adversity. Directed by Peter Levin, the film follows Liz Murray’s extraordinary journey from her homelessness in the Bronx, being born to poor and drug-addict parents on September 23, 1980, to making it into Harvard University. The film offers a poignant exploration of resilience, determination, and the transformative power of education to pull someone out from a life of crime and poverty. Thora Birch delivers a standout performance as Liz Murray, capturing the essence of her commendable journey with authenticity and depth. You can watch ‘Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story’ here.

2. Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy (2011)

In ‘Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy,’ viewers are drawn into a true crime legal drama based on the infamous case of Amanda Knox, an American exchange student accused of murdering her roommate/British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy. Kercher’s body was discovered on November 2, 2007. Directed by Robert Dornhelm, the film is set between 2007 and 2009 and offers a bird’s eye view of the media frenzy, legal battles, and international scrutiny surrounding Knox’s (Hayden Panettiere) trial. Surprisingly, Knox and her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito (Paolo Romio), were convicted without proper evidence. With Panettiere delivering a convincing performance as Knox, the movie unfurls around the layers of the case, exploring elements of justice, prejudice, and the blurred lines between truth and sensationalism. You can watch the film here.

1. Girl in the Box (2016)

Prepare to be enthralled by the chilling true story of Colleen Stan in ‘Girl in the Box.’ Directed by Stephen Kemp, this thriller recounts the harrowing ordeal of 22-year-old Stan, who was abducted on May 19, 1977, and held captive/sex slave in a small wooden coffin-like box for over seven years by Cameron and Janice Hooker, a married couple, until her escape in 1984. Zane Holtz delivers a haunting performance as Cameron Hooker, the sadistic abductor, while Addison Timlin shines as Colleen Stan, portraying her perseverance and courage in the face of unimaginable suffering. Zelda Williams plays Janice Hooker. The film explores the psychological and emotional damage done by captivity, shedding light on the human capacity for survival and the enduring strength of the human spirit amidst unimaginable adversity. You can watch the film here.

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