There is something about some people’s “out of the ordinary” actions that are just too weird to not be told. Movie directors do a good job adapting them to film, but they usually change true facts about the stories in order to suit their audiences’ taste. You can easily identify this when they hit you with the “based on a true story” phrase right before the credits. What does that mean? What part did they changed? Every single detail can mean anything or everything – especially when the story holds a crude reality that leaves you thinking “I can’t believe that really happened.” For that reason, I like true dark documentaries that do an excellent job of portraying this visually. If weird obscure stories catch your attention, you’ll love the following list that I’ve put up for you.
The Imposter (2012)
This is one of those films you hear about because somebody told you about it and after you watch it, you tell someone else to go watch it – it’s a vicious circle. The documentary is about an American young boy who goes missing and after three years authorities think they’ve found him … in Spain. Turns out the kid is actually a man whose English is not even good – and you can easily tell he is not the kid – but somehow the family plays along with it. Worth watching it.
If you were looking for a strong motive to become vegan, this documentary might be the ideal reason. It explores the inhumane practices behind the slaughtering of animals due to commercial demands. With hidden cameras, Lucent takes you inside Australia's farming industry. The success of this film prompted a sequel with a broader scope called Dominion (2018).
Beware of Slenderman (2017)
This documentary is the perfect example of allowing kids to have unsupervised access to internet. It’s about two little girls who attempted to kill one of her friends and they blamed it on Slender Man, a fictitious monster that originated on social media platforms like YouTube. The girls face the consequences of the legal system and you can tell that there are some psychological problems going with those kids. There are interviews with the parents and the directors took videos from Youtube to illustrate Slender Man.
Child of Rage (1992)
Disturbing level: very high. This is a very short documentary that doesn’t have a lot of investigation or visuals. It is pretty much just an interview between a psychiatrist and a little girl who seems to be a sociopath. The child’s behavior reveals her desires to kill and hurt others, like her brother. The child was severely abused by her biological father and years later, after being adopted by her new family, they started noticing malicious actions from her: extreme masturbation, infliction of pain, and animal executions. She doesn’t feel remorse and the fact that she just spills it all out, will leave you very disturbed.
The Cheshire Murders (2013)
One of the most disturbing and frightening docs I’ve ever watched. The story is about the famous murder case of the Petit family in Cheshire, Connecticut. Their house was invaded by two criminals who were sentenced to life in prison a few years later. The home invasion ended in the rape and murder of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters. Steven Hayes and his accomplice, Joshua Komisarjevsky, burned the Petit family members alive –I got the chills from just watching the trailer.
The Six Degrees of Helter Skelter (2009)
This documentary takes you around the places where Charles Manson and his cult, The Manson Family, murdered their victims. They explain how and who they killed. From the corners of LA and other Hollywood houses, to farms, this documentary deepens into the twisted mind of the famous killer.
Confessions of a Serial Killer (1994)
This MSNBC special about a serial killer who raped, killed, and ate over 15 men. Jeffrey Dahmer was convicted for atrocious crimes and Stone Phillips sat down with him to get details about his psychotic murders. There is also a perspective from the parents included.
The Bridge (2006)
Inspired by a New Yorker's article titled “Jumpers,” this documentary talks about the place where many in San Francisco have chosen to take their lives: The Golden Gate Bridge. It involves public records and interviews with the friends and relatives of the victims.
Ever heard of the Boogeyman? You’ll be terrified to find out this urban legend actually became true after Andre Rand, who escaped from a mental health facility, kidnapped and murdered five children in New York. If you get easily scared or cry easily, you may want to pass on this documentary since it’s very crude and heartless.
Jesus Camp (2006)
Think you’ve heard everything about Evangelicals and nothing will shock you anymore, how about a summer camp where children are trained to become soldiers of the “army of God.” This is a documentary about Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady’s Jesus Camp in Devil’s Lake (the lake’s name is a coincidence), North Dakota.
Although these are only a few examples, and more like Earthlings (2005), Capturing the Friedmans (2005), Killer Legends (2014), The Institute (2013), to name a few; are worth to be mentioned, these documentaries are meant to persuade us to avoid practices or raise awareness on certain issues. That’s the true purpose behind dark documentaries and not morbidity as other might point out. Regardless of that, take the time to watch these docs and you might become a proud documentary consumer.