List Terrifying

19 Terrifying Documentaries That’ll Keep You Awake For Days

19 Terrifying Documentaries That’ll Keep You Awake For Days

WARNING: Many of the films on this list are incredibly disturbing. Please continue and watch each film with discretion.

1. Dreams of a Life (2011)

Cannon and Morley Production / Via

Joyce Carol Vincent died while wrapping Christmas presents with the TV still on, and was found three years after the fact. It sounds like a horror movie — but it’s a 100% true story. This documentary makes you question everything you think you know about your life.

Where you can watch it: Hulu or Amazon Video


2. Child of Rage (1992)

HBO / Via

An interviewer sits down with a 6-year-old girl who was abused as a child and adopted by a new family. The young girl has an attachment disorder, and calmly explains that she wants her family to die.

Where you can watch it: YouTube

—Markku Naukkarinen, Facebook

3. Hell House (2001)

GreenHouse Pictures / Cantina Pictures / Via

A church puts on a haunted house every year featuring dramatized sins like drunkenness and suicide, in the hopes of saving those who enter.

Where you can watch it: Amazon Video

—Jane Nelson, Facebook

4. The Six Degrees of Helter Skelter (2009)

If the Manson murders scare the shit out of you, give this one a whirl: A team follows in the footsteps Manson’s Family took in the late ’60s-early ’70s, from Spahn Ranch to the Tate-Polanski home.

Where you can watch it: iTunes

—Darrah Fry, Facebook

5. The Cheshire Murders (2013)

HBO Documentaries / Via

[WARNING: This synopsis is very disturbing.] A mother was raped and tortured and her two daughters were burned alive in July 2007. The most horrifying part? It could have been prevented far in advance.

Where you can watch it: HBO Now or HBO Go

—Erica Antonello, Facebook

6. Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles (2011)

Focus Features / Via

Do you ever find messages written in the sidewalk or on buildings in your city? So did this guy, but he actually took the time to look into a bunch of cryptic messages on these things called the Toynbee Tiles, and ended up learning some seriously intense stuff.

Where you can watch it: YouTube, Amazon Video, or Google Play


7. The Central Park Five (2012)

Sundance Selects / Via

A woman jogging in Central Park in the ’80s is brutally attacked and raped, and the courts convict the wrong five young men. The Central Park Five goes on a terrifying ride showing the seriously scary truth behind this tale.

Where you can watch it: Netflix


8. The Imposter (2012)

Film4 Productions / Via

SOMEHOW a man impersonates a boy who had gone missing three years prior, and lives with them for six goddamn months until an investigator and fingerprints prove that this man is just an imposter.

Where you can watch it: iTunes, YouTube, or Google Play


9. The Institute (2013)

Argot Pictures / Via

Thousands of people get “inducted” into a San Francisco alternate reality game, and they start to become terrified and confused when the line between the real world and alternate reality becomes very blurred.

Where you can watch it: iTunes, Amazon Video, or YouTube

—Lynne Carpenter, Facebook

10. Kids for Cash (2013)

SenArt Films / Via

Two judges sentenced a bunch of juveniles to long sentences for petty crimes, and this doc delves deep into the suspicion that the judges did it all to receive a ton of money.

Where you can watch it: YouTube, Amazon Video, or Google Play


11. Quiet Rage: The Stanford Prison Experiment (1992)

Justice Videos / Via

Philip Zambardo recalls details of the Stanford Prison Experiment of 1971, including the terrifying psychological reasonings behind the students’ actions in the case study.

Where you can watch it: There’s no current way to watch online, but you can get a DVD copy.


12. Confessions of a Serial Killer: Jeffrey Dahmer (1994)


MSNBC sits down with the man who raped, murdered, and ate 17 men from the late ’70s to the early ’90s. The scariest part is his overall calmness when discussing the reasons behind his actions.

Where you can watch it: Top Documentary Films

Anna Kopsky

13. Cropsey (2009)

Cinema Purgatorio / Via

The Boogeyman is real — and you’ll learn how and why that’s possible in this documentary that’ll make your skin crawl right off of your body.

Where you can watch it: Netflix or Hulu

—Teal Chastain Blacksten and Claire Goulson, Facebook

14. Killer Legends (2014)

Gravitas Ventures / Via

If you’re into true crime and urban legends, this one’s for you: It connects the scary stories you know are fake with IRL murderers and criminals. Just terrifying.

Where you can watch it: Amazon Video

—Tasha Thiemann, Facebook

15. Titicut Follies (1967)

Zipporah Films, Inc. / Via

Titicut Follies tells the story of the people in Bridgewater State Hospital for the criminally insane, including talent shows and interviews with the inmates.

Where you can watch it: There is currently no way to watch online, but you can get a DVD copy.

—Kaidia Pickels, Facebook

16. Capturing the Friedmans (2003)

HBO / Via

The perfect all-American family is turned upside down when deeply disturbing facts about child molestation surface.

Where you can watch it: Amazon Video

—Jane Nelson, Facebook

17. The Bridge (2006)

IFC Films / Via

The touristy Golden Gate Bridge has a dark side to it — many, many people commit suicide off the landmark every year. The Bridgerecounts some of the incredibly tragic deaths that have taken place, including viewpoints from the victims’ family and friends.

Where you can watch it: iTunes, Amazon Video, The Bridge, or Google Play

—Dana Prophet, Facebook

18. There’s Something Wrong With Aunt Diane (2011)

HBO Docs / Via

Diane Schuler drove the wrong way on the highway while both high and drunk in 2009, killing several children in her own car as well as others on the road. This doc looks into her life to figure out what exactly went wrong.

Where you can watch it: HBO

—Erica Antonello, Facebook

19. Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008)

MSNBC Films / Via

Dear Zachary is incredibly heartbreaking: Andrew Bagby is murdered by his ex-girlfriend, and she then announces her pregnancy. Andrew’s best friend makes a movie to teach the new baby about his father, but the tale unravels as a truly moving and upsetting true crime story.

Where you can watch it: Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, or Amazon Video



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