12 Of The Scariest Documentaries On Netflix

The only limit to how gross, creepy, terrifying, and disturbing horror movies can get is our own imaginations, which means that there will likely always be a steady stream of scary movies for as long as any of us will live. But if made-up horror movies have started to lose their luster, look no further than documentaries. Some of the scariest movies out there are actually some of the scariest documentaries out there, on Netflix no less.

Yes, while there is much to be said for the imagination, there is perhaps just as much to be said for the scary stories that are one hundred percent true. There's probably no monster under your bed or zombie ready to eat your brains, but there absolutely are evil serial killers, atomic bombs, restrictive abortion laws that result in women's deaths, priests who have dedicated their lives to exorcism, vicious man-eating animals, and many other terrifying true tales out in the real world. Netflix, known for its wide array of documentary fare, offers plenty in the way of scary true stories both historical and contemporary. So, if you want to stare in the face of a murderer, you've come to the right place.


'Killer Legends'

Gravitas Ventures

This documentary explores four terrifying urban legends and discovers that there may have been real-life crimes that inspired them.


'Hostage To The Devil'

Causeway Pictures

This deeply spooky documentary examines the true story of Father Malachi Martin, a priest who performed exorcisms.


'The Imposter'

Picturehouse Entertainment

The Imposter tells the curious and progressively disturbing tale of a boy who went missing and then showed back up looking mysteriously different.




This documentary is a different kind of terrifying. It examines the targeted regulation of abortion providers, which has made it increasingly difficult for clinics to operate and for women to receive this important medical procedure. The film showcases the devastating effects that "pro-life" policies have had on many of America's most vulnerable women.


'H.H. Holmes: America's First Serial Killer'

Facets Multimedia Distribution

For detailed descriptions of the elaborate Chicago torture house designed by murderer H.H. Holmes in the 1880s, acid vats and gassing rooms and all, look no further than this documentary.


'Hiroshima: BBC History of World War II'


This BBC documentary, which includes interviews with five Japanese eyewitnesses to the devastating Hiroshima bombing, is terrifying as an account of what humanity is capable of, especially in light of Donald Trump's recent remarks about nuclear weapons.


'Grizzly Man'

Lion's Gate Films

This is a fascinating documentary about the relationship between man and nature, but take note: It is not a heartwarming tale, and it does not have a happy ending.


'Glory Daze'

Osiris Entertainment

Michael Alig, a founding member of the New York Club Kids in the '80s, is the subject of this thrilling and frightening documentary. His antics turn deadly.


'The Confessions of Thomas Quick'

Independent Film Sales

More than your average serial killer documentary, this creepy film examines the story of Sture Ragnar Bergwall, also known as Thomas Quick, a man who confessed to more than 30 murders and then years later withdrew the confessions. The story of how these events came to happen is deeply disturbing.



Cinema Purgatorio

One of the most effective horror documentaries ever, Cropsey follows its two filmmakers as they embark on a mission to solve the mystery of a number of kidnappings and disappearances that occurred in their hometown during their childhood. The truth is more haunting than you could imagine.


'Interview With A Serial Killer'


This is exactly what it sounds like: a jailhouse interview with serial killer Arthur Shawcross, the Genesee River Killer. He talks about his crimes, and yes, it is terribly creepy and utterly fascinating.


'Josef Fritzl: Story Of A Monster'

Content Media

Another serial killer documentary, this one examines the life and horrific crimes of Josef Fritzl, who kept his daughter locked in a basement for 24 years and raped her repeatedly, fathering seven children.

If you can peacefully fall sleep after watching any of these documentaries, you're stronger and braver than I am.

Editor's Note: This article has been updated from its original version.