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Friday, February 24, 2023

Scarier Than Fiction: Six Spooky Documentaries Horror Fans Should Watch

Truth may be stranger than fiction, but it’s often scarier as well. After all, it’s not unusual for real life mysteries and deaths to leave Hollywood in the dust when it comes to producing genuine fear. With that in mind, we’ve previously published a couple of lists celebrating some of the scariest documentaries ever made.

However, there’s no shortage of authentic scares when it comes to filmmaking, and that’s why we’re back with another list recommending six more scary documentaries that horror fans might enjoy. After all, whether you’re into true crime or paranormal investigations, there’s something for everyone when it comes to non-fiction thrills.

As usual, we’ll be abiding by a couple of rules when selecting our movies. First of all, no docs that have been previously featured on any of our lists. Second, we’ll be excluding mockumentaries like Man Bites Dog or Trollhunter for obvious reasons.

With that out of the way, don’t forget to comment below with your own favorite scary documentaries if you think we missed a good one.

Now, onto the list…

6. Missing 411 (2016)

If you like your true crime with a side of preternatural speculation, have I got a movie for you.

Conspiracy theorist David Paulides may have started his writing career by investigating Bigfoot sightings, but the former police officer is now mostly known for Missing 411. Based on his homonymous book series, the documentary explores a collection of unexplained disappearances in American national parks, suggesting that there may be a connection between some of these eerie cases.

Many of Paulides’ proposed connections are flimsy at best, but the individual disappearances themselves are still incredibly fascinating so long as you take eye-witness accounts with a sizable grain of salt. However, if you like this one, the film actually spawned a couple of sequels that doubled down on the more speculative aspects of these cases, exploring both cryptozoology and ufology.

5. Wrinkles the Clown (2019)

scary documentaries wrinkles

From viral folk hero to child-traumatizing fiend, Florida’s Wrinkles the Clown is one hell of a polarizing figure, something that Michael Beach Nichols’s 2019 documentary explores thoroughly through interviews with folks who’ve come into contact with the infamous clown-for-hire.

While I’d rather not spoil things for first-time viewers, suffice to say that this oddball documentary goes to unexpected places in its exploration of the fascinating title character, flipping the legend of Wrinkles on its head by exposing this masked icon as nothing more than a complex piece of performance art.

It all makes for an interesting watch, but coulrophobiacs might not appreciate some of Wrinkles’ so-called “pranks.”

4. The House In Between (2019)

I find it difficult to recommend haunted house documentaries since they usually follow the same tired formula of showing creepy shots of allegedly haunted spaces accompanied by repetitive interviews with people who’ve supposedly experienced paranormal phenomena. Fortunately, Steve Gonsalves and Kendall Whelpton’s The House In Between takes a more pragmatic approach to its paranormal investigation, capturing some compelling evidence through clear and repeatable tests and observations.

Sure, there are some questionable EVP recordings and mediums clumsily attempt to explain away some of the house’s bizarre properties, but there’s still plenty of speculative fun to be had here if you can stomach some of these spiritual excesses. I’d also recommend checking out the film’s 2022 sequel immediately after finishing this one, as it continues the open-ended investigation in some interesting ways.

3. My Amityville Horror (2012)

scary documentaries amityville

Everyone and their mother have heard of the Amityville incident, but very few documentaries feature first-hand accounts of what actually transpired in that Long Island home. Eric Walter’s My Amityville Horror attempts to change that by giving a voice to Daniel Lutz years after he had become known as the kid who survived Amityville.

While the film features plenty of interviews with paranormal aficionados and even the late Lorraine Warren herself, this introspective character study ultimately suggests that the real evil behind Amityville might not have been demonic in nature, with Lutz’s childhood trauma likely stemming from tragically irresponsible parents.

2. An Unknown Compelling Force (2021)

Despite repeated claims that the deaths were caused by a mere avalanche, the Dyatlov Pass incident remains one of the world’s favorite mysteries. However, it was only in 2021 that we saw a definitive exploration of the incident on film, with director Liam Le Guillou retracing the steps of the original expedition and interviewing experts in an attempt to shed some light on these tragic deaths.

Not only does An Unknown Compelling Force debunk some of the more absurd theories regarding what happened back in 1959, but the film also provides some compelling evidence for alternate explanations that are just as creepy. The mysterious nature of the case means that there’s no definitive conclusion, but this is still an incredibly entertaining and well-researched film.

1. Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1990)

scary documentaries 2

The True Crime film that started it all, Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills is one of the most influential documentaries of all time, telling the true story of how a group of teenagers were accused of committing a series of horrific murders based on mere assumptions.

Much more than a simple murder mystery, Paradise Lost taps into society’s fear of the “other” as well as the infamous Satanic Panic. The doc also marks the first time that Metallica allowed their music to be used in a film, allowing for a surprisingly poignant heavy metal soundtrack. If you’re only going to watch one documentary on this list, make sure that it’s this one (or one of its equally fascinating sequels).

As a side note for horror fans, co-director Joe Berlinger would later be invited to helm Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 due to his experience with documentaries, though he would infamously ditch the Found Footage format due to his belief that cinematic dishonesty could have real world consequences.

The post Scarier Than Fiction: Six Spooky Documentaries Horror Fans Should Watch appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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