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26 Disturbing Documentaries That'll Make You Sleep With The Lights On

From murderers, to true crime, to just plain creepy.

We asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell us about the most disturbing documentaries they've seen this decade. Here are the wild results.

🚨 Warning: Some of this content is disturbing and graphic. 🚨

1. Evil Genius (2018)

Duplass Brothers Productions

What it's about: Brian Wells, a pizza delivery driver in Pennsylvania, robbed a bank with a bomb strapped around his neck in 2003. He claimed he was being forced to commit the heist, and if he didn't follow through the real criminals would detonate the bomb. This true crime documentary series follows the investigation into the "pizza bomber" case and aims to figure out if Wells was indeed a victim or a co-conspirator of the crime.

Where you can watch it: Netflix.


2. Abducted in Plain Sight (2017)

Top Knot Films

What it's about: There are so many twists and turns in this disturbing documentary, and there are so many wild details that you honestly won't believe, so I'm just going to keep it simple: This documentary is about a girl from Idaho who was kidnapped by her family's neighbor and best friend in the 1970s...twice.

Note: This was by far the most suggested documentary by our readers. One person even described it as "plain creepy and messed up from the very first second," so I think you really need to watch it now.

Where you can watch it: Netflix.


3. Haunters: The Art of the Scare (2017)

The Brain Factory

What it's about: Haunted houses are thrilling. One second they're making you laugh, and the next they're giving you nightmares. But some people make it their life's mission to take them even further with "extreme horror simulations." This fun yet terrifying documentary gives a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the scariest haunted houses in the world, as well as the people who create them.

Where you can watch it: Netflix.


4. BTK: A Killer Among Us (2019)

Investigation Discovery

What it's about: "For 31 years, Dennis Rader (the BTK Killer) was able to live a double life. This documentary chronicles comprehensive interviews with law enforcement, his victims's family members, reporters, and his daughter, Kerri Rawson."

Where you can watch it: Amazon Prime Video and IDGO.


5. There's Something Wrong With Aunt Diane (2011)


What it's about: In 2009, Diane Schuler was driving 85 mph on the highway in the wrong direction when she collided with an SUV. Eight people were killed, including Diane, her daughter, and three of her nieces. The medical report revealed that Diane was heavily intoxicated at the time of the crash, but her husband insisted that she would never drink excessively. This documentary retells the events leading up to the 2009 Taconic State Parkway crash and tries to uncover what really happened.

Where you can watch it: HBO Go.


6. Holy Hell (2016)

WRA Productions

What it's about: Will Allen loved making movies as a child. When he got older, he joined Hollywood's Buddhafield cult and continued to record his life through home videos, even becoming the cult's official videographer. This documentary uses real-life footage and interviews that Allen actually shot during his 22 years in the Buddhafield, ultimately uncovering the downward spiral of the group and an onslaught of paranoia.

Where you can watch it: Netflix.


7. The Witness (2015)

FilmRise /

What it's about: Kitty Genovese was stabbed, raped, and murdered by a man outside her apartment building in March 1964. It was reported that 38 people watched the attack unfold, yet no one intervened. This documentary follows Kitty's brother as he tries to uncover the truth behind what happened. Kitty's murder is also a major reason why the US adopted the 911 system because "up until the late 1960s, there was no centralized number for people to call in case of an emergency."

Where you can watch it: Amazon Prime Video.


8. The Woman Who Wasn’t There (2012)

Meredith Vieira Productions

What it's about: Alicia Esteve Head claimed to have been on the 78th floor of the World Trade Center during the attacks on 9/11. She had gripping testimony about surviving the attack and even revealed that her fiancé died in the other tower. Later on, she became the president of the World Trade Center Survivors' Network support group. But there was one problem: Head wasn't actually in either of the buildings on the day of the attacks. In fact, she wasn't even in the country — she was at school in Barcelona. This documentary unravels Head's true story and tries to reveal who she really was.

Where you can watch it: Amazon Prime Video.


9. Carl Panzram: The Spirit of Hatred and Vengeance (2011)

Wikipedia / Public Domain / / Waterfront Productions

What it's about: This documentary tells the story of Carl Panzram, who confessed in prison and wrote in his autobiography that he murdered 22 different people in the 1920s. He also sodomized over 1,000 boys and men. He was a lifelong criminal, escaped jail several times, and was hanged in 1930.

Where you can watch it: Amazon Prime Video.


10. The Imposter (2012) / Film4 Productions

What it's about: Nicholas Barclay was 13 years old when he disappeared in 1994. Three years later, he returned home. Well, Frédéric Bourdin returned home. Bourdin was pretending to be Barclay and literally lived with the Barclay family for six months before anyone figured out that he wasn't who he said he was. This documentary tries to uncover how and why that happened.

Where you can watch it: Vimeo.


11. The Jeffrey Dahmer Files (2012)

Wikipedia / Creative Commons / / IFC Films

What it's about: Jeffrey Dahmer is infamous for committing rape, murder, and dismembering over a dozen boys and men. This documentary focuses on the summer of Dahmer's arrest in 1991, and it includes interviews with the lead detective on the case, the medical examiner, and Dahmer's next door neighbor.

Where you can watch it: Amazon Prime Video.


12. The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst (2015)


What it's about: "Robert Durst, scion of New York's billionaire real estate family, has been accused of three murders over the past 30 years, but never convicted. Brilliant and reclusive, he has not spoken publicly — until now. This six-part series exposes long-buried information of a case that has baffled authorities."

Where you can watch it: HBO Go.


13. Who Took Johnny (2014)

RumuR Inc.

What it's about: Johnny Gosch was 12 years old when he disappeared without a trace in 1982, presumably kidnapped while on his paper route. His face was among the first to be featured on a milk carton. This documentary follows his mother's pursuit to discover what really happened to her son.

Where you can watch it: Amazon Prime Video.


14. I am Jane Doe (2017)

50 Eggs Films

What it's about: Jessica Chastain narrated this powerful documentary that followed the legal battle between American moms and the site, an escorting site where underage girls were trafficked and sold for sex.

Where you can watch it: Vimeo and Netflix.


15. The Family I Had (2017)

Investigation Discovery Channel /

What it's about: A 13-year-old boy and his 4-year-old sister were at home with a babysitter in 2007. The boy ultimately strangled and stabbed his little sister 17 times, killing her. This documentary follows the mother as she tries to piece together how everything unfolded and what the consequences for her son should be.

Where you can watch it: Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and IDGO.


16. Tabloid (2010)

Air Loom Enterprises

What it's about: "Girl meets boy. Girl and boy fall in love. Boy is Mormon, girl is not. Boy is sent on his mission to London and doesn't tell girl. Aaaaand girl hires private investigator to find him, goes to London, kidnaps him outside where he's staying, holds him hostage in a house she's renting, and plays house with him. After he escapes, there's a trial and all kinds of weird stuff. It may not be a forensic-filled, gritty investigative documentary, but hot damn."

Where you can watch it: Hulu.


17. Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes (2019)


What it's about: Most people already know the story of Ted Bundy, but this four-part documentary series takes you inside the mind of America's most infamous serial killer. It also features interviews with him on death row, which are especially chilling.

Where you can watch it: Netflix.


18. Missing 411 (2016)

David Paulides

What it's about: People literally disappear in national parks in North America every year. This documentary looks into the similarities between five different people who went missing over the span of multiple decades.

Where you can watch it: Amazon Prime Video.


19. Mommy Dead and Dearest (2017)


What it's about: This documentary does a deep dive into the murder of Dee Dee Blanchard, a presumably model parent who was taking care of her gravely ill child, but then everything started to unfold: "After Dee Dee was killed, it turned out things weren’t as they appeared — and her daughter Gypsy had never been sick at all."

This true story was so disturbing that Hulu made a TV series about it called The Act. Both Patricia Arquette and Joey King were nominated for Emmys for their roles as Dee Dee and Gypsy, respectively, and Patricia won.

Where you can watch it: HBO Go.


20. Born to Kill? Richard Trenton Chase: The Vampire of Sacramento (2010)

Wasnoe County Sheriff's Department

What it's about: Richard Chase killed six people within a single month in the late 1970s. One of his victims was a pregnant woman he killed during a home break-in. He had sex with her corpse. When police searched Chase's apartment, they found that "the walls, floor, ceiling, refrigerator, and all of Chase's eating and drinking utensils were soaked in blood." This documentary retells those events and includes interviews with the people who worked the case.

Where you can watch it: Dailymotion.


21. Casting JonBenét (2017)

Wikipedia / Fair Use / / Netflix

What it's about: Most people know about the unsolved murder of JonBenét Ramsey, a child pageant queen who was killed in her own home in 1996. This documentary retells those events via a casting process for a fake movie about the murder, where real-life actors portray the people (and, yes, even JonBenét) who were involved in the crime and investigation. It's a strange, innovative, and compelling glimpse into the unnerving case.

Where you can watch it: Netflix.


22. Dreams of a Life (2011)

Dogwoof Pictures, Wikipedia / Fair Use /

What it's about: Joyce Carol Vincent died in her London apartment in 2003 of either an asthma attack or from complications of a peptic ulcer. However, her body wasn't discovered until almost THREE YEARS later. Vincent set up automatic payments on her rent and apartment bills, so no one noticed that she died until a few fines built up. Her body had deteriorated so much that by the time they discovered her, she looked "mostly skeletal." Even more heartbreaking, they found wrapped Christmas presents next to her corpse, which were unmarked and never delivered. This documentary tells her story, and it's just as creepy as it is heartbreaking.

Where you can watch it: Amazon Prime Video.


23. Team Foxcatcher (2016)

Madrose Productions

What it's about: John du Pont was a multimillionaire who built a training facility for the US Olympic wrestling team. He became obsessed and paranoid with one wrestler in particular: Dave Schultz. This chilling documentary uses interviews and never-before-seen footage to showcase the downfall of du Pont, who ultimately murdered Schultz. You might remember this story from the 2014 true crime drama Foxcatcher, in which Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo both received Oscar nominations for portraying the two real-life people.

Where you can watch it: Netflix.


24. Monster in My Family: Happy Face Killer (2015)

ABC /, Clark County Sheriff's Department

What's it's about: Have you ever wondered what it's like to be the child of a serial killer? This documentary follows Melissa Moore, daughter of Keith Hunter Jesperson (otherwise known as the Happy Face Killer), on her path of self-discovery as she reveals what it was actually like to learn that her father was a murderer.

Where you can watch it: YouTube.


25. The Pig Farm (2011)

CTV Television Network

What it's about: "It's an award-winning investigation into the crimes of Robert Pickton. This documentary explores why it took so many years to capture and convict Canada's most prolific serial killer, including troubling revelations about who knew what, and when."

Where you can watch it: iTunes.


26. And The Keepers (2017)

Wikipedia / Creative Commons / / Film 45

What it's about: Sister Catherine Cesnik was a teacher at Archbishop Keough High School in Maryland when she disappeared in 1969. Two months later, her body was found near a garbage dump. This compelling documentary series investigates what really happened, especially since her old students believed "there was a cover-up by authorities after Cesnik suspected that a priest at the school was guilty of sexual abuse."

Where you can watch it: Netflix.


Have you watched an even creepier documentary than the ones above? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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