Best True Crime to Stream: True and Very Scary Stories | ET REALITY

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It’s the time of year when I tend to push the boundaries of how many scary stories I can handle. That includes horror movies, but also true crime offerings that I may have skipped. Of course, with true crime, that reassuring mantra of “at least it’s not real” doesn’t apply, which makes it even more disturbing. Here are four selections that shook me to the core.

Documentary film

On May 31, 2014, in Waukesha, Wisconsin, Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser, then 12 years old, lured their friend and classmate Payton Leutner into the woods and stabbed her 19 times. Weier and Geyser were trying to appease the fictional character Slender Man, a tall, lanky, faceless demon and modern-day bogeyman whose image had been spread on the Creepypasta Wiki, an online forum focused on horror. The girls believed that if they killed their friend, they would save their families from Slender Man’s wrath and live forever in what they called Slender Mansion.

This 2016 documentary, directed by Irene Taylor Brodsky, uses chilling footage of the girls recounting the precipitating events to police officers hours after the stabbing. And Brodsky spent 18 months with Weier and Geyser’s parents before his trial for attempted first-degree murder.

Particularly hard to forget is how Slender Man captivated young people. The character originated from a Photoshop challenge to create compelling paranormal images, then spread to platforms on the web and became the basis of popular online games. In the documentary, mental health experts talk about the role of the internet as a companion; the abundance of grotesque images online; and what I found most disturbing: the concept that a widely spread meme is actually a virus of the mind.

Docuseries

The term “killer clown” would normally make me run for the hills. But I was curious about this six-episode 2021 Peacock docuseries, which is an exhaustive exploration of the crimes committed by serial killer John Wayne Gacy, who preyed on boys and men and was convicted of 33 counts of murder in 1980. Gacy, who had been a respected and well-connected figure in his Chicago community and who performed for children as Pogo the Clown, was executed in an Illinois prison in 1994.

Along with interviews with investigators, a sister of Gacy and relatives of the victims, as well as film of the excavation of his home, under which dozens of bodies were buried, the series includes a wealth of never-before-seen footage from an interview of 1992 with Gacy by FBI profiler Robert Ressler, who is credited with creating the term “serial killer.” (For “Mindhunter” fans, Ressler inspired the character of Special Agent Bill Tench.) The most indelible thing for me is how completely ordinary and ordinary Gacy seemed.

While serial killers like him have often been over-glorified, it is valuable not to forget the systemic failures that allowed such horrors to continue unchecked. As they did with the Jeffrey Dahmer crimes, police ignored warnings and left out clues, including pleas from a surviving victim, out of deep-rooted homophobia.

Podcast

I decided to binge watch this 10 episode series on a 12 hour road trip with my dogs. Not even in one episode did I have to stop and get out of my car to get some air. But I persevered, so don’t let that deter you.

Season 1 of this Wondery podcast, reported and hosted by science journalist Laura Beil, tells the story of Christopher Duntsch, a young neurosurgeon who arrived in Dallas in 2010 and captivated his patients with confidence and charisma. He claimed that he could cure back pain when nothing else worked. Under his care, which amounted to carnage, more than 30 patients were seriously injured; two died.

As convoluted as these stories are, the revelations about how he escaped the medical system are worse.

In 1989, 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling was kidnapped on a rural dead-end road in his small Minnesota town, a kidnapping that would fuel an already rapidly growing national paranoia: that pedophiles were kidnapping America’s children. . The search that followed was one of the largest in American history. Although the investigation was horribly mishandled, as host Madeleine Baran, an investigative journalist, and a team of reporters make clear in nine episodes and two bonus episodes of this American Public Media podcast (found a new home in The New Yorker earlier this year).

For 27 years, there were no answers, but a couple of weeks before Season 1 debuted in 2016, Wetterling’s remains were discovered, changing everything and taking a decades-old story and breathlessly placing it in the present.

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