5 best Max true crime documentaries that keep me up at night

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The verdict is in: American loves true crime. From January 2018 to March 2021, documentaries on streaming services had grown by 63%, with the largest subgenre of documentaries being true crime, according to data from Parrot Analytics. We are in a true crime boom, with fans consuming 3.8 hours of true crime content weekly. 

Max is one of the many streaming services providing fresh true crime content every month. Not every true crime story is the same. Some focus on gruesome murders and graphic acts of violence, while others investigate manipulative cults and abusive corporations. However, certain true crime stories will keep you up at night. Check out these five Max true crime documentaries that will stay with you long after the program ends.

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The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst 

Many true crime documentaries do not have the luxury of speaking with the main suspect or culprit because they are incarcerated, dead, or refuse to participate. The Jinx did not have that issue, as Robert Durst spoke freely about his alleged crimes in HBO’s crime docuseries. Not only did he participate, but Durst initiated the first conversation with director Andrew Jarecki, who helmed a dramatization of Durst’s life in All Good Things before directing The Jinx. 

As a New York real estate mogul, Durst became embroiled in three mysterious cases: the disappearance of his wife in 1982, the murder of his friend in 2000, and the killing of his neighbor in 2003. The final moments of the series will be the lasting memory of The Jinx, as Durst makes a shocking confession that confirms his sociopathic and murderous nature. However, the justice system would have the last laugh as the series led to murder charges against Durst.

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Beware the Slenderman

Horrifying doesn’t even begin to describe what happens in Beware the Slenderman. What makes this documentary so disturbing is the perpetrators are children. In 2014, two teenage girls – Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier – lured their friend, Payton Leutner, into the woods. Geyser and Weier violently stabbed Leutner 19 times to appease the Slender Man, a fictional online character that is a featureless white man in a black suit. 

Luckily, Leutner survived, but the debate around how to charge Geyser and Weier had just begun. Beware the Slenderman is an eye-opening examination of mental health and the dangers of the Internet. Watching a mental health crisis lead to violence from two young girls is as frightening as it gets.

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There’s Something Wrong with Aunt Diane 

In 2009, Diane Schuler drove her minivan down the wrong side of the Taconic State Parkway and collided with an SUV. Eight people were killed, including Schuler, her daughter, three nieces, and the three passengers in the SUV. It was the worst motor vehicle crash in Westchester County in nearly 100 years. The filmmakers behind There’s Something Wrong with Aunt Diane attempt to answer what led Schuler to make that fateful decision. 

The filmmakers interview Diane’s family, including her husband, who believe the toxicology reports of marijuana and alcohol were inaccurate despite an independent investigation confirming intoxication. The series explores previous trauma and pain in Diane’s life that could have led her to self-medicate. While the documentary holds Diane accountable for her actions, it also expresses empathy and provides context into her complicated life.

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House of Hammer

From 2010-2020, Armie Hammer became a well-respected and critically acclaimed actor in Hollywood, with roles in The Social Network, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and Call Me by Your Name. Meanwhile, Hammer was hiding a dark family secret the entire time. In 2021, several of Hammer’s ex-girlfriends accused the actor of physical, mental, and sexual abuse. Some women went into detail about Hammer’s abuse, providing examples of how the actor shared cannibalistic fantasies and left bite marks on women as a badge of honor. 

If that’s not bad enough, House of Hammer explores how Armie comes from a family with a history of male abusers. The series is full of jaw-dropping revelations that will make you question how a family got away with these crimes for decades. 

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The Crime of the Century

The opioid crisis has been the subject of many recent movies and television shows, notably Hulu’s Dopesick, which is terrific, and two inferior offerings from Netflix: Painkiller and Pain Hustlers. However, the best content about the opioid crisis is arguably The Crime of the Century, the documentary by acclaimed filmmaker Alex Gibney. 

The Crime of the Century has two parts. Part one focuses on Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family, who became billionaires off the profits of OxyContin, one of the driving forces for opioid abuse. Part two revolves around Fentanyl and its rise in popularity, causing the number of drug overdoses to skyrocket over the last decade. Your heart breaks for all those affected by opioid abuse. However, The Crime of the Century will anger you even more, knowing how greedy pharmaceutical companies willingly introduced these drugs to the masses and, for the most part, were never held accountable for their detrimental actions. 

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Dan Girolamo

Dan is a talented content creator who specializes in pop culture, entertainment, and sports. His entertainment interviews have been featured on Digital Trends, where he has spoken with various actors and entertainers, including Brendan Fraser, Alison Brie, and James Cameron. Additionally, Dan is a sportswriter with The Sports Daily, breaking down the top news in the NFL and NBA while providing picks and predictions for each league. Other bylines include ComingSoon.net, Unafraid Show, Fansided, and WatchMojo. When he’s not working, Dan enjoys rooting for his favorite New York sports teams and watching the latest movie from Christopher Nolan or Martin Scorsese.