Five documentaries you need to binge-watch
This semester, I’ve been on a True Crime documentary binge. From cults to polygamy to abductions and notorious serial killers, I’ve compiled a list for those of you who are also fascinated with the darker side of humanity.
Number One: “Wild Wild Country” (Netflix)
Probably one of the best cult documentaries I’ve seen, “Wild Wild Country” is a six-part documentary series that follows The Ranjneesh movement, an Oregon cult that rose to fame in the 1980’s. The leader is the mystic Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, who literally led a revolution during a vow of silence, his secretary Ma Anand Sheela taking the reins. Those in the cult essentially considered him God, almost in a strange brainwashed sense. They all wear red clothing head to toe, do this creepy dancing where they look like they’re having a seizure and have weird sexual encounters with whoever they want, wherever and whenever they want. It’s quite the show…and there’s graphic footage of some of it. Basically, when they let loose, they act like wild animals.
The best documentaries are those with original footage and “Wild Wild Country” certainly has plenty of it. I don’t know who was running around with a camera recording the strange happenings of Rajneeshpuram, but I’m extremely glad they did. I could go on, but I think it’s better you be surprised. If you enjoy laughter because of ridiculousness and complete shock and confusion, I 10/10 recommend. It’s big weird.
Number Two: “Chris Watts Documentary” (Youtube)
Okay so essentially this is one of the best and most shocking documentaries my friends and I have ever seen. It was certainly one that left all of us silent. If you aren’t familiar with the case, Chris Watts of Colorado murdered his pregnant wife and three daughters by strangling them, then disposed of their bodies in quite a disturbing fashion. What makes this documentary unique is that there isn’t any commentary, its solely footage from police body cameras, news reports, interrogations (including a high-tech lie detector test) and the trial itself. It’s on YouTube and is a little over an hour, but absolutely worth it.
Number Three: “Dahmer on Dahmer” (Vudu or Amazon Prime Video)
This follows the story of Jeffrey Dahmer, notorious serial killer who eats his victims’ flesh, mainly told by Dahmer himself in an exclusive interview from jail. It’s personal, very descriptive and just overall disturbing. His monotone voice tells the details of the murders in the most shockingly nonchalant way. Clearly a psychopath, he shows no remorse or emotion about what he has done at all. Pay the $1.99 and watch it. Seriously.
Number Four: “Children of God” (Netflix)
Another cult documentary, this one follows a Christian Cult that rose from the hippie movement and slowly got real weird. Called the “Children of God,” the cult is led by a man most of the followers have never seen. Members are spread throughout the world, and he keeps control of them all by releasing this magazine thing that gives that gives them pretty descriptive and disturbing instructions to maintain control over them. Even further, he also requires them to record themselves doing various activities and send him the tapes.
Though it starts out pretty lowkey, his instructions and demands definitely get a lot weirder over time. The story itself is told by former cult members, a mother and her daughters who were raised in the cult. Even better, there’s real footage from the cult so we get an inside look into the madness.
The cult rose from the hippie movement but took the whole “free love” thing way too far. He encouraged and manipulated his members into believing that God loved sex and Satan hated it, so they should have a ton of sex with a ton of people to please God. This included polygamy and involved children as well. So yikes.
Number Five: “Abducted in Plain Sight” (Netflix)
So, this is crazy. This documentary tells the story of a little girl in Idaho, who is abducted by her close family friend…twice. Seemingly a fun-loving adult who all the kids loved, the abductor Berchtold or “B” is definitely a sociopath. He manipulated the easily influenced Broberg family in order to abuse their 12-year-old daughter Jan right in front of them. This included doing some pretty strange things with both the parents in order to have access to their daughter. He was just full of a bunch of random stories, explanations and blatantly obvious lies and excuses, that, for some unknown reason, the family actually believed.
What’s even more disturbing about this is not “B” himself, but the family’s naivety to the entire situation. They literally just let him take her and didn’t call the police for several days the first time he did it. The most interesting part is that the story is told by the family themselves, including Jan, who survived it all. This man may be manipulative, but the family is ridiculously oblivious, and you won’t believe some of the things they let him do. It’s wild.
Some other notable True Crime documentaries to binge are “Evil Genius” (Netflix), “Mugshots: Tom Green—Polygamist Family Photo” (YouTube), “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes” (Netflix), “Killer Kids” (Netflix) and “One Man, Six Wives And 29 Children.” They are worth the time, trust me.