Watchlist: true crime documentaries

The best movies and shows to scare you during the Halloween season


Lex Konev and Kendal Fleury ‘25

Cecil Hotel: 


The Cecil Hotel, located in Skid Row, Los Anglos, has always had mysterious crimes in and around it. One of the main crimes was the death of Elisa Lam. Her death, or murder, is still a mystery to this day, but many have speculated that it is the actual hotel that drives people to violent acts, but others argue it is its location. Not only was there the death of Elisa Lam, there have been sexual assaults, other mysterious deaths, kidnappings, and drug covers. To this day, many of the crimes, including Elisa Lam’s death, are still unsolved. 


Lex– The Cecil Hotel is portrayed as the perfect setting for everything to go wrong for everyone. This show captures the audience’s attention straight from the first few minutes. It is truly an incredible show, from the interviews done to how the evidence was presented to leaving bread crumbs for the audience about what really occurred. But what makes it an even more interesting story is that the case has never been fully solved, allowing questions to arise to this day. While the story did mainly focus on Lam’s murder, I think it would also be interesting to get a second season of this show about one of the other 15 deaths that occurred at this hotel. 


For my true crime rating, I give it a 4.5/5 just because I would have liked to see some other aspects of what occurred. 

For my recommendation rating, I give it a 5/5 because this story is gripping and fascinating and will leave you with questions even after the ending. 


Kendal– The story is the epitome of a true crime story. It starts with an explanation of the story, and then follows all the conspiracy theories of the story. It was highly publicized when Lam went missing, which attracted a lot of attention from internet sleuths that swore they knew what happened. The fact that it was never solved and there are still, to this day, more questions than answered is what makes it such an amazing true crime story. The storytelling had many parts. There were outside interviews from both internet sleuths and witnesses that were in the hotel when it happened. There were interviews from the manager at the time and many of the cops involved. It had many pictures of the hotel at the time, while also explaining the background of the hotel and its downfall over time. The overall story was beautifully told and showed the story from many different points of view. 


For my rating, I give it a 5/5 on the true crime scale because of how the story was told.

For my rating, I give it a ⅘ in my recommendation for others to watch. 


Untold- The Girlfriend that didn’t Exist: 


A famous college football player faced a tragedy, both his girlfriend and grandmother passed away on the same day. The only problem was that his girlfriend didn’t actually exist. Manti Te’o was a senior at Notre Dame and had a long-term long distance girlfriend he had never met. When he was told she died, he suspected nothing, but became confused when he received a phone call from the alleged dead girlfriend. It was then exposed by a small sports newspaper that Lennay Kekua was actually Naya Tuiasosopo in disguise. 


Lex– While I feel that this was a good story, I felt that this maybe wasn’t the best true crime story. It had some aspects of crime, but never anything towards the two main people. What makes this different from other phishing cases was that this was in 2009. There was no phishing during that time and that wasn’t the intention on either person’s side. While Kekua was pretending to be a fake person on the internet, there were never any mal-intentions associated with it. I know that sounds wrong, but just watch the show and you’ll understand. 


For my rating, I give it a ⅖ on the true crime scale, since it wasn’t really a true crime story, because there was really not any crime that occurred in terms of murder or kidnapping.

For my rating in terms of recommendation, I give it a ⅘. I have always been a fan of crimes that occur over the internet, and this story truly portrayed it well. 


Kendal– The actual story is not only tragic, but truly amazing how it all unfolded. While I wouldn’t consider the actual story a true crime story, there was a crime that took place. Te’o was catfished and robbed at the end of his senior year at Notre Dame. It also followed him into the NFL Draft. He was supposed to be a number one draft pick, but because of the drama, was a round two late draft pick. He also had severe anxiety after the whole ordeal.  The storytelling was surprisingly good. There were interviews from multiple different perspectives, Manti Te’o, Naya Tuiasosopo, Te’o’s parents, and many others involved. It really explained both sides of the whole story and an explanation of the intention and motive. 


For my rating, I give it a ⅕ on the true crime scale. There was no real, physical crime committed. 

For my rating, I give a 5/5 in my recommendations for others to watch. 


American Murder- The Family Next Door:


A mother and her two daughters go missing from their homes, and her concerned husband calls the police. Police soon realize the husband wasn’t where he said he was, and is now acting suspicious. When his mistress comes forward, so does the full story. When the bodies of his wife and children are discovered at his work site, Chris Watts is arrested and charged with their murders. His motive, he wanted out. He wanted to run away and start a new life with his mistress. In his opinion, the only way out was murder. 


Lex–   Once again, this film was the epitome of what people consider a true crime documentary to be. It has the build up structure seen in most media, and it isn’t towards the middle until the culprit is revealed. While the story was told in an interesting way, it seems like a stereotypical story: the husband killed the wife for his mistress’. Except in this case he also killed his children. This story is tragic, let me make it clear, but this is the whole point of true crime. 


For my true crime rating, I give it a ⅗.

For my recommendations rating, I give it a ⅗.


Kendal– The actual story is the definition of a true crime story. From the beginning, they have a suspect in mind and show actions from all sides to show the behavior of their suspect. It is also explained in the film how certain actions pushed them to the conclusion they came to. From the beginning of the story, Chris seems like a grieving husband and father, and is honestly portrayed as such in the series. The image of him starts to switch to the killer as new information comes out. This little switch was the pinnacle moment in the story. This continues through the whole story, involving interviews, pictures, videos, and clips of news stories at the time. 


For my rating, I give it a ⅘ on the true crime scale. 

For my rating, I give it a ⅗ in my recommendations for others to watch.