The Top 10 Horror and True Crime Documentaries of 2022
2022 has been a great year for horror fans and true crime enthusiasts alike. Both genres have been rich with noteworthy releases that we are keen to shine a spotlight on. Whether you gravitate toward real-life murder mysteries or films that chronicle the legacy of a beloved series or filmmaking trend, we have you covered. So, pop some fresh corn, fill your glass with holiday cheer, and queue up your preferred streaming device as we showcase 2022’s ten most noteworthy horror documentaries.
Warning: Please bear in mind that each of the true crime docs showcased here contains material likely to be triggering to viewers (including but not limited to sexual abuse).
Capturing the Killer Nurse
This Netflix true crime documentary recalls Charles Cullen’s reign of terror. The ICU nurse murdered dozens (possibly hundreds) of patients and came dangerously close to getting away with it. The film takes a look at evidence and themes previously explored in Charles Graeber’s 2013 book, The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder.
My Daughter’s Killer
Netflix original, My Daughter’s Killer sees a father going to extreme measures to see the man that killed his daughter brought to justice. Fans of the film have called it both “incredible” and “hard to watch”. What really reeled viewers in about this title was its depiction of the lengths to which a father would go in the name of justice. That including abducting his daughter’s murderer.
Pennywise: The Story of It
This documentary on the legacy of the It miniseries dives into coulrophobia and the lasting impact the Stephen King adaptation had on an entire generation of youngsters. The doc features interviews with director Tommy Lee Wallace, many of the stars, and more. You can grab this title on physical media. It’s also streaming on Screambox as of the publication of this post.
The Found Footage Phenomenon
This Shudder original documentary tracks the impact of the found footage boom from its inception through the present and explores influential offerings within the subgenre. The flick features interviews with creatives that have made use of the format. It also shines the spotlight on some of the most notorious offerings to make use of the technique.
This is GWAR
This feature-length documentary looks at the legacy of GWAR, including the impact the band has had on the metal community through the decades. The doc features interviews with band members and fans. Actor Ethan Embry (who famously hallucinated an encounter with the band in the cult classic Empire Records) also makes an appearance. You can stream this rock doc exclusively on Shudder.
In Search of Tomorrow
Although it’s a little long to digest in a single sitting (at roughly five hours), In Search of Tomorrow is an absolute must-see. It chronicles the science fiction films of the ‘80s and features insightful commentary from the filmmakers and stars. It serves as an exhaustive look at the science fiction output of a bygone era. It’s a logical fit for anyone looking to fill in blind spots or for those that weren’t around during the ‘80s. If you’re curious to hear more, you can check out my review right here.
Queer for Fear
I am a big fan of queer themes in horror. In fact, I co-wrote/co-edited a book on it. But more on that in the coming months. This docuseries was executive produced by the legendary Bryan Fuller. It features interviews with a number of prominent queer filmmakers, as well as actors that have been featured in queer-focused stories over the decades. The series dives into both film and literature and traces the earliest origins of queer subtext in the genre.
This Netflix original docuseries is absolutely heartbreaking. It chronicles the events leading up to the day bodybuilder Sally McNeil killed her husband, Ray. Viewed through a contemporary lens, it’s hard to think Sally got an entirely fair trial. Her husband was abusive, frequently choking his spouse and regularly beating their children. Moreover, the DA on the case mocked Sally and mocked the battered woman defense her representation used to contextualize the decisions she made.
The Girl in the Picture
Harrowing Netflix true-crime doc, The Girl in the Picture tells the heartbreaking story of Sharon Marshall and her abductor, Franklin Delano Floyd. The horrifying ordeal Sharon endured is recounted with painstaking detail. As I sat through it, I couldn’t believe my eyes and ears. That which that poor woman experienced is darker than any horror film I have seen. With that said, the film does a commendable job of focusing on her bravery and the impact Sharon had on those that knew her, rather than sensationalizing the unspeakable abuse she endured throughout her short life.
Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey
This limited docuseries plays out a lot like the true story of HBO’s Big Love. The program focuses on predator and false prophet Warren Jeffs and the lasting impact he had on a community of fundamentalist Mormons. The series features interviews with Jeffs’ victims and journalists that covered the controversy that the abusive figure left in his wake. Shockingly, Jeffs still has a base of devotees following his incarceration.