All eyes are on the most exciting true crime films and TV series coming our way in 2020. Are you ready for your latest true crime obsession?
19. Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez
Release date: January 15th, 2020 on Netflix
‘Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez’ is a three-part documentary series examining what led to the murderous fall and shocking death of former NFL superstar Aaron Hernandez. This is one of the first true crime documentaries to be released by streaming giant Netflix in 2020.
Hernandez was acquitted of double-murder in 2012. Then in 2015, he was sentenced to life without parole after being convicted of murdering Odin Lloyd, in 2013, but was appealing that conviction. On April 19th, 2017, Hernandez took his own life behind bars – hanging himself in his cell – he was 27-years-old.
The question is – how could an athlete with such a bright and promising future turn to murder? ‘Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez’ interviews those who knew former New England Patriots star and also features footage of his childhood with the intention to answer those difficult questions.
18. Ted Bundy: Falling For A Killer
Release date: January 31st, 2020 on Amazon Prime Video
After nearly 40 years of silence, Elizabeth Kendall and her daughter Molly share their experiences with unsettling new details about Ted Bundy. Following on from the re-release of her memoir ‘The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy’, she will share her new perspective alongside many other Bundy survivors.
Elizabeth met Ted in 1968 and they were in a romantic relationship together for six years. Following his arrest for the murders of 30 women and teenage girls, Elizabeth struggled to stand by the man she had invited into her home as a father figure to her daughter. In the trailer, she explains, “I’m hoping that this is the end to anything related to Ted.”
Release date: February 3rd, 2020, on HBO
Serial killers and cold-blooded murderers aside – we all love a bit of white-collar crime every now and again.
HBO’S upcoming docu-series ‘McMillions’ will give a detailed account of the McDonald’s Monopoly game scam during the 1990s as told by the participants in the case, including the prizewinners and the FBI agents who caught the security officer who orchestrated the entire scheme.
The ex-cop rigged the McDonald’s Monopoly game promotion for a decade, stealing millions of dollars and building a vast network of co-conspirators across the U.S.
16. Narcos: Mexico Season 2
Release date: February 13th, 2020, on Netflix
Diego Luna returns to his role as a Mexican drug lord and cartel founder Felix Gallardo for the second season of ‘Narcos: Mexico’. Set in the mid-1980s, Felix starts to feel the pressure when his Guadalajara Cartel cracks under the pressure while Mexico’s government resorts to desperate measures as they respond to social and political shifts.
However, it’s not Mexico’s political climate that Felix needs to worry about – as the trailer makes clear the real conflict is emerging from inside his cartel.
The fifth season of Narcos (or second season of Narcos: Mexico) states in its official synopsis it will be: “chronicling the missteps, ill-conceived agendas, and corruption on both sides of the border that have led to a dangerous presence in the failed war on drugs.
15. The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez
Release date: February 26th, 2020, on Netflix
On May 24th, 2013, 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez was brutally murdered by his mother and her boyfriend after suffering abuse for months at their hands.
The new Netflix docu-series ‘The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez’ explores the events leading up to the tragic death of the young boy as well as the failures of the Department of Children and Family Services in preventing this from happening.
Gabriel’s mother, Pearl Fernandez, called 911 to report her son had hit his head and wasn’t breathing. When paramedics arrived they found the boy naked; his ribs shattered, his skull fractured, and BB gun pellets lodged in his skin. He was declared brain dead and died from his injuries two days later at the hospital. One of Netflix’s most disturbing and heart-wrenching true crime documentary yet.
14. Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness (…and Tiger King 2!)
Release Date: March 20th, 2020, on Netflix (Season 2 release date to be announced soon)
The year 2020 will be remembered for many things yet our main escapism has been the pop culture phenomenon ‘Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness’.
For the few people who still haven’t seen the 8-part Netflix docu-series; here is a quick summary for you – there is a failed murder-for-hire plot, big cat breeding, three-way marriage, suicide, people losing limbs, skeletons in a sports car, hidden microphones, arson, guns, a cult, and one missing husband.
Now, there will be a follow-up series coming from Investigation Discovery titled ‘Investigating the Strange World of Joe Exotic’. In a press release, ID revealed, “The exclusive footage that has never been shown and the search to answer the one question every person in America is asking themselves right now: although she’s denied it, is Carole Baskin responsible for the disappearance of her husband, Don Lewis?”
Carole became a pop culture icon after the internet went crazy with theories that she killed her husband, covered him in sardine oil, fed him to a tiger and put his remains through a meat grinder. Don has not been seen alive since 1997. We don’t know the real truth yet but we do know the Tiger King story is not over yet.
13. How To Fix A Drug Scandal
Release date: April 1st, 2020, on Netflix
This four-part series follows the story of then-35-year-old Sonja Farak who was a drug chemist in a lab at Amherst, Massachusetts, one of the state’s two main drug testing facilities. Farak was responsible for testing evidence obtained by police until 2013 when she was arrested by the Massachusetts State Police for tampering with evidence.
Then it’s revealed that Farak was using the drugs she was asked to test – also throw in there an attempt at trying to cover up the entire scandal. Following Farak’s arrest, more than 20,000 defendants were left in legal limbo – if Farak was high at work, was her test results and the evidence she gave at these trials even accurate?
12. Murder House Flip
Release date: April 6th, 2020, on Quibi
Home renovation meets true crime in the new series ‘Murder House Flip’. Viewers can expect to take a look inside some of the country’s most infamous murder homes and delve into some of the secrets within its walls. A team of forensic specialists, spiritual healers, and high-end renovation experts will then cleanse and repair these houses of horror.
Elyse Seder, SVP Alternative & Syndicated Programming of Sony Pictures Television, said, “We are thrilled to bring this one of a kind series to life and dive into a world that combines America’s two biggest TV obsessions: true crime and home renovation.”
11. Murder To Mercy: The Cyntoia Brown Story
Release date: April 29th, 2020, on Netflix
After 16-year-old Cyntoia Brown is sentenced to life in prison, questions about her past, physiology, and the law itself call her guilt into question.
Cyntoia was given up for adoption early in her life and as a teenage runaway, she met a man who abused her, beat her, and forced her into sex trafficking. In 2004, she was charged with the murder of Johnny Allen in Nashville who had allegedly paid $150 to have sex with her. Cyntoia claimed the murder was self-defense as she had feared for her life but the prosecution told a different story.
She was eventually found guilty of first-degree murder, felony murder, and aggravated robbery. Cyntoia was sentenced to life in prison. Then high profile celebrities including Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, and Lebron James supported her campaign for clemency and the case was reexamined.
10. I’ll Be Gone In The Dark
Release date: June 28th, 2020, on HBO
Fifty rapes. Twelve murders. Forty years later… One man finally caught? Between 1976 and 1986, the Golden State Killer launched a reign of terror throughout California then he disappeared without a trace – until now.
Michelle McNamara’s acclaimed true crime book ‘I’ll Be Gone In The Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer’ was published posthumously in February 2018 as she had died in her sleep on April 21st, 2016. Now her book has been adapted as a mini TV series following the arrest of the suspect, Joseph James DeAngelo, in 2018. Aged 74-years-old, DeAngelo is currently on trial for the sinister crimes.
HBO stated, “The series will also give a voice to the survivors and their families, documenting an era when sex crimes were often dismissed or hidden in shame. A timely inquiry into our macabre preoccupation with true crime and a cautionary tale of the dangerous lure of addiction, the series is a riveting meditation on obsession and loss, chronicling the unrelenting path of a mysterious killer and the fierce determination of one woman to bring the case to light.”
Release date: Expected September/October 2020 on ITV
David Tennant will play Dennis Nilsen in a new drama about the crazed serial killer. Nilsen is often referred to as “The British Jeffrey Dahmer” as he murdered and dismembered at least 12 young men between 1978 and 1983 in London.
Nilsen had a strict ritual after the killings; he would strip and bathe the bodies, then dispose of them either at a bonfire or flushing the remains down the toilet. His crimes went undetected until a plumber noticed a flesh-like blockage in the drains which included bones. When police inspected Nilsen’s home, they discovered three bodies and following a search of his previous address – eight further bodies were uncovered.
Executive producer Kim Varvell said, “Dennis Nilsen’s crimes shocked the nation in the early 1980s. Our program focuses on the emotional impact of those terrible crimes, both on those who came into contact with Nilsen himself, and also on the victims’ families.”
8. American Crime Story – Impeachment
Release date: September 27th, 2020, on FX/BBC
Mega-producer Ryan Murphy has shelved his plans for American Crime Story’s season 3 to focus on Hurricane Katrina and instead turned his attention to Bill Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky. ‘American Crime Story – Impeachment’ stars Clive Owen as the former president and Beanie Feldstein as Lewinsky.
Lewinsky told Vanity Fair, “People have been co-opting and telling my part in this story for decades. In fact, it wasn’t until the past few years that I’ve been able to fully reclaim my narrative; almost 20 years later.”
She added, “But I’m so grateful for the growth we’ve made as a society that allows people like me who have been historically silenced to finally reintroduce my voice to the conversation. This isn’t just a me problem. Powerful people, often men, take advantage of those subordinate to them in myriad ways all the time. Many people will see this as such a story and for that reason, this narrative is one that is, regretfully, evergreen.”
7. Trial By Media
Release date: May 11th, 2020, on Netflix
In our modern media landscape where real courtroom dramas have increasingly been transformed into a form of entertainment, this series reflects on some of the most dramatic and memorable trials in recent history.
Executive produced by George Clooney, this six-part docu-series revisits six cases – some famous, others lesser-known – in which the media played a bigger than expected role.
Author Jeffrey Toobin, who also produced the series, told The Guardian, “We wanted a mix of cases that were famous and recognizable, and cases that were… just bizarre and fascinating on their own terms.” Adding, “We didn’t want to make the series just about cameras in the courtroom. It’s really only part of the story. It’s really more about media manipulation from a broader perspective.”
Release date: Limited online release May 12th, 2020, theatrical release expected later in the year
Tom Hardy fills the boots of infamous mobster Al Capone in the upcoming biopic ‘Capone’. Not one to shy away from a dramatic transformation, Hardy looks almost unrecognizable in the bloated prosthetics used to portray the American gangster whose rise to infamy in Chicago took place in the 1920s.
Directed by Josh Trank (Fantastic Four – 2015), the official synopsis reads: “A ruthless businessman and bootlegger who ruled Chicago with an iron fist, Al ‘Fonzo’ Capone (Hardy) was the most infamous and feared gangster of American lore. At the age of 47, following nearly a decade of imprisonment, dementia rots Capone?s mind and his past becomes present as harrowing memories of his violent and brutal origins melt into his waking life.”
Trank made his big-screen debut with the original superhero movie ‘Chronicle’ in 2012 yet following his disastrous box office flop that was ‘Fantastic Four’ (2015) he took a long break from being behind the camera. ‘Capone’ which he also wrote the script for is believed to be his big comeback.
5. Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich
Release date: May 27th, 2020 on Netflix
Disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein was convicted in 2008 for soliciting an underage girl for prostitution and served 13 months in prison, although he was granted permission to leave each day for “work obligations”. He was then arrested in July 2019 for sex trafficking minors and the following month he was found dead in his prison cell.
Epstein’s death was ruled as an apparent suicide; yet since the news was revealed online, there have been constant updates on internet forums regarding the suspicion that Epstein did not kill himself, rather that he was murdered.
The trailer reveals, “(Epstein) was stunningly rich; he had a $20 million house, his own private island in the Caribbean. It has a nickname: The Pedophile Island.” Promising a story of power, money, and corruption.
Academy Award winner Joe Berlinger – best-known for true crime documentaries ‘Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills’ and ‘Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes’ – will direct the series alongside Lisa Bryant and best-selling author James Patterson.
4. Dr. Death
Release date: Expected late 2020 on NBC
Jamie Dornan (‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, ‘The Fall’) will star as Christopher Duntsch in ‘Dr. Death’. Duntsch was a Texas surgeon convicted of gross malpractice after thirty-one of his patients were left seriously injured after he operated on them, and two patients died during his operation.
Based on the Wondery podcast of the same name, the series attracted over 50 million listeners since the first broadcast in 2018. Other big stars who will join the cast are Alec Baldwin and Christian Slater.
Duntsch was considered to be one of the greatest upcoming neurosurgery practitioners and he made bold statements to his colleagues such as: “Everybody’s doing it wrong. I’m the only clean minimally invasive guy in the whole state.” Dornan revealed during a ‘Death and Nightingales’ Q&A that he likes playing characters who are difficult to figure out.”
He added, “If they are showing goodness or kindness on the screen or on the page, are we meant to believe that that is sincere, or is there something behind that? I love the idea of playing that.”
3. The Barking Murders
Release date: Expected late 2020 on BBC
‘The Barking Murders’ will take a look at the aftermath of four murders carried out by serial rapist Stephen Port who will be portrayed by actor Stephen Merchant. Also known as ‘The Grindr Killer’, Port, who lived in Barking, London, received a life sentence in 2016. He was convicted of the murders of four young men in their 20s – Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth, and Jack Taylor.
The first three victims were initially thought not to have died in suspicious circumstances and despite LGBT groups correctly believing there was a serial murderer at large, the police had led the public to believe the crimes were not linked.
The three-part series is written by Jeff Pope and Neil McKay who also teamed up for ‘Appropriate Adult’ which looked at the story of serial killer Fred West. ‘The Barking Murders’ status on IMDB is currently in post-production and is expected late 2020 on BBC.
Also Coming In 2021…
2. The Devil in the White City
Release date: Expected 2021 on Hulu
The story of America’s first serial killer – Dr. Henry Howard Holmes – will be retold by Martin Scorsese and Leonardo Di Caprio. Based on the best-selling book ‘The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America’ by Erik Larson, Holmes confessed to 27 murders and was executed for his crimes in 1896.
Holmes’ twisted ‘Murder Castle’ in Chicago was built with one purpose in mind – murder. The official synopsis reads: “An architect works to build up the 1893 Worlds Fair, while a serial killer uses the fair to attract and kill women.”
DiCaprio acquired the book rights nearly a decade ago and there have been long-standing rumors that he would take on the role of Holmes himself. Now, the Academy Award-winning actor has made it ‘IMDB Official’, and his updated acting credits reveal that he is set to star as the twisted serial killer.
1. Killers of the Flower Moon
Release date: Expected 2021 in theaters
Another upcoming Martin Scorsese film is ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ based on The New York Times best-selling book by David Grann of the same name. Filming will finally begin in the summer with Leonardo Di Caprio and Robert De Niro set to star. According to IMDB, the film will be released in 2021.
The film retells the unsettling story of the Osage Nation murders, in which members of the Native American tribe were murdered one by one after they made a fortune from the oil they found underneath their land.