Criminal documentaries have taken on new life after creative productions from streaming platforms have approached the genre intelligently and engagingly. Today, The Mafia of Tigers is one of the coolest productions on viewers’ minds. Still, many have come before it and promise to keep you hooked while trying to unravel – or, in some cases, understand – the minute plots of real cases unfolding in your view. on the small screen.
To make your life easier, Canaltech created this list with 10 documentaries about obscure and impacting crimes.
10. Don’t F ** k With Cats
The first item on our list is a famous case, which has gained great repercussion because of the internet. Don’t F ** k With Cats is a documentary miniseries centred on the story of Canadian Luka Magnotta, a murderer convicted of killing and dismembering Chinese student Jun Lin in 2012 and sending parts of the victim by mail to several elementary schools across the country. The episodes show how the internet was behind Magnotta’s exposure long before the authorities started taking action, as animal protection groups sought him out and condemned him for videos showing him killing cats.
Don’t F ** k With Cats has three episodes and can be watched on Netflix.
9. I love you, now die.
A heavy case whose documentary explores in-depth psychological symptoms of guilt, the attribution of responsibility and how it is used in court, besides figuring its sustenance in one of the most difficult crimes to take sides until today: I Love You, Now Die is centred on the death of Conrad Roy and the subsequent conviction of his girlfriend, Michelle Carter.
The whole situation is a very complicated tangle of conflicting emotions: Conrad committed suicide, but the authorities discovered text messages on his cell phone, sent by Michelle, which encouraged him to end his life. Both had documented mental illness problems, and the documentary brings to the table discussions on factors such as depression, the influence of society and the limit of criminal liability, in addition to expanding details of the crime and the trial.
8. The Gabriel Fernandez Case
A tragic case of family death, The Gabriel Fernandez Case shows the worst in human beings when the prejudice against sexuality takes on uncontrollable proportions. The boy who gives the title to the documentary was the victim, murdered at age 8 by his own mother, who suspected the child was gay.
The documentary has six episodes that cover all facets of the case, from the repressed childhood of the boy Gabriel, who suffered constant domestic abuse in torture sessions carried out not only by his mother but also by her boyfriend, to decisive aspects of the trial that took Pearl Fernandez to life without parole, while boyfriend Isauro Aguirre was sentenced to death.
7. McMillion $
One of the most famous marketing actions in McDonald’s history, for the worst possible reasons: the McMillion $ documentary series didactically exposes the operation of a network that diverted approximately US $ 24 million (just over R $ 128 million) from an offer of the largest fast-food chain in the world.
In short: McDonald’s started offering its own version of the Monopoly game. The offers of snacks conferred “parts” to fill the tray that contained prizes ranging from extra portions of chips up to $ 1 million in cash. The promotion lasted almost two decades, starting in the mid-1980s until well into the 2000s. One person stole winning pieces, distributing them to family and friends.
The person, entitled “Uncle Jerry” (real name: Jerome P. Jacobson) thanks to an anonymous report, was eventually captured, tried and arrested. The defendant was head of security at a third-party company hired by McDonald’s to oversee the distribution of the game.
6. Heads of Trafficking
This documentary in episodic format is much more of a narrative relief than an investigation of a specific case: each episode of Heads of Trafficking tries to draw a detailed picture of a prominent figure in the international drug trade and their respective organizations. The idea is to bring awareness to the public through interviews with people directly involved with organizations such as the Sinaloa Cartel (formerly led by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman) – whether these people were authorities who fought them, survivors and relatives of victims, or former members.
5. Time: The Kalief Browder Story
The Kalief Browder Story is a documentary that tells the story of the young Kalief Browder, who was arrested at 16 for reportedly stealing a backpack. The problem: he was innocent. The victim who identified Browder as one of the “two African-American men who stole the backpack”, but the authorities found nothing with him.
Browder ended up in prison in 2010, going to trial and convicted on several unfair charges, and as his poor family did not get the money to bail, he ended up being relocated to Rikers prison, which has a notorious history of violence and gang dispute. In prison, he was constantly physically and sexually abused, sometimes by guards, other times by other prisoners. Only in 2013, after two years coming and going from solitary, did he be released for lack of conclusive evidence. This did not alleviate the already fragmented psychological of Browder, who killed himself in 2015.
4. Diabolic Genius
Referred to as “Collar bomb case” in some circles, Diabolic Genius is a four-episode documentary series that focuses on the case of the death of Brian Wells, a pizza delivery man who died after a kind of “treasure hunt” that led him to different parts of the city of Erie, Pennsylvania, ending the case with a bank robbery in 2003. The case is embroiled in mystery and conflicting stories. Brutally speaking, Wells died surrounded by police during the assault, after a device installed in his collar exploded.
The conflicts start from the assumption that, according to the conclusions of the municipal and federal authorities, Wells was a co-participant in the assault, who was reportedly informed by the other members of the group that the bomb was fake and that no one would have intended him to die. The deceased’s family disputes this, saying that the bomb at all times was real and Wells was the object of a threat, taking part in the assault coercively. What conclusion will you reach, just watching to know?
3. Audrie & Daisy
A frightening case of rape of minors, Audrie & Daisy tells the story of the title girls, both victims of rape and who had their lives exposed and their families, persecuted online, in cyberbullying attacks. Unlike other docs on this list, there is no element of suspense here, as the production focuses on the harmful potential that social networks bring to victims of abuse.
The production directors, the couple Bonnie Cohen and Jon Shenk (with teenage daughters of their own), detail the whole case, from the rape suffered by the girls to the abuse suffered by them and their families on social media. Even the sheriff in the case, Darren White, is shown uttering the now-iconic phrase “Girls are as much to blame [as boys] in cases like Daisy’s,” in an exemplary blaming situation for the victim.
2. The Case of the Cannibal Police Officer
Gilberto Valle was a police officer in New York City and became known as a “cannibal police officer” after his then-wife discovered his posts on secret internet chats, where he described desires and intentions to kidnap, torture, rape and cannibalize – yes, “Eat” – women.
Denounced by the ex and going to trial in 2013, Valle ended up convicted of conspiracy to commit kidnapping, with his chat room logs serving as evidence that if he were released, he would act on his wishes and put people’s lives at risk.
It is worth mentioning: the documentary itself is not an analysis of a crime in the same sense as the previous ones – Valle was unable to kidnap, let alone eat, anyone. But his subsequent release, 22 months after his arrest, set the internet on fire, effectively inaugurating debates about whether the “intention” of a crime could be treated as a crime committed. Valle, for his part, remains on the loose today, but an appeal against his release is being analyzed by the US Supreme Court. Currently, Valle participates in conventions of discussions of crimes, claiming to be ashamed for everything he did.
1. Watch out for the Slenderman
Slenderman is one of the modern urban legends of the internet age. Basically, an imaginary character created in several creepypasta forums, the figure of a very tall man, without a face and with excessively long arms, wearing a suit and tie, who tortures his victims for years and years, leading them to insanity. The reasons behind this modern mythology are still debated, but, in general, the fictional character is an evil being, by consensus.
This documentary, unfortunately, has nothing fictional: two teenagers – Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser – believed the myth and were under the impression that the monster would hurt their families if they did not comply with an order: kill school friend Payton Leutner. They fulfilled the “request” to a certain extent: they stabbed her 19 times, but the victim sustained, crawling to a road where she was found and taken to the hospital. The crime itself was quite simple to solve: the criminals were referred to psychiatric institutions indefinitely, while Payton recovered completely and, in an interview given in 2019, said he would thank the criminals if he saw them again, because it was thanks to the attack suffered that she developed an interest in the Faculty of Medicine.
The documentary itself explores elements of the case, from the investigation to the trial, to position a debate on how the isolation and conflicting nature of internet reports influence people, leading them to unthinkable acts. The case ended up serving as inspiration for episodes in established series, such as Law & Order SVU and Criminal Minds .