All eyes are on the most exciting true crime TV series and movies coming our way in 2021. Are you ready for your latest true crime obsession?
10. JonBenet Ramsey: What Really Happened?
Release date: January 4th on discovery+
In 1996, 6-year-old pageant queen JonBenet Ramsey was found murdered at her family home in Boulder, Colorado. She was reported missing by her parents and then, eight hours later, her body was found in the basement. The case still remains unsolved.
This feature-length documentary exploring one of America’s most notorious and captivating unsolved murder mysteries showcases the exclusive and previously unheard audio diaries of legendary detective Lou Smit, who worked on 200 murder cases and was brought out of retirement in Denver to work on this homicide.
Police immediately suspected her parents John and Patsy Ramsey of the murder, but after reviewing the evidence, Lou thought otherwise and he recorded it all. We hear from Lou Smit’s son and daughter, his team, as well as members of the Ramsey family, as they reflect on what really happened during the investigation that gripped the nation.
9. Night Stalker: The Hunt For A Serial Killer
Release date: January 13th on Netflix
LOCK YOUR DOORS. The Night Stalker is coming to Netflix. Witness the story of one of the most vicious serial killers in American history, a real-life boogeyman that brought California to a standstill.
Serial killer Richard ‘The Night Stalker’ Ramirez terrorized Los Angeles and San Francisco in the mid-1980s. Ramirez used a .22 revolver, knives, machetes, tire irons, and hammers to bludgeon his victims to death – often after sexually assaulting them. He also scrawled Satanic messages on the walls of the blood-splattered crime scenes.
In his own sinister words, he revealed, “I love to kill people. I love to watch them die. I would shoot them in the head and they would squirm all over the place, and then just stop. Or I would cut them with a knife and watch their faces turn white. I love all that blood.”
8. The Investigation
Release date: February 1st on HBO
HBO has unveiled the trailer for “The Investigation”. This six-episode limited series details the complex real-life investigation of freelance journalist Kim Wall in 2017. The series will be directed by Tobias Lindholm who has previously worked on two episodes of Mindhunter.
Wall requested an interview opportunity with Danish inventor and “semi-celebrity” Peter Madsen for months before he finally invited her onto his homemade submarine near Copenhagen.
The last photo of Wall was captured by a passing ship after she had been on the submarine for 90 minutes. When Wall didn’t return home, her concerned husband reported her missing. Madsen told the police he had dropped Wall off at a restaurant that night at around 10 pm.
Two weeks after Wall’s disappearance, her mutilated torso was discovered on a beach. Police divers were also able to recover her head and legs. Madsen then changed his story; he told police Wall hit her head on a hatch in the submarine and she was accidentally killed.
Police found several videos on Madsen’s phone of women being killed, mutilated, and beheaded.
7. Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel
Release date: February 10th on Netflix
On February 19th, 2013, the body of 21-year-old Elisa Lam was found inside a water tank, located on the rooftop of the Cecil Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles.
Disturbingly, residents at the hotel complained of foul-tasting water and a worker was sent up to the tanks to see what the problem was. It was there her body was discovered. Residents had been using this water to brush their teeth, have showers, and even as drinking water for 19 days.
When they checked the CCTV footage, Lam appeared to be acting strangely and hiding in the lift from an unknown threat. Still, to this day, not a single person can explain how she met her fate but the theories online have grown over the years.
Netflix announced they will be debuting a four-part series into the mysterious death with director Joe Berlinger (Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes) at the helm. ‘Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel’ is set to debut on February 10th.
Berlinger hinted the upcoming documentary might feature the hotel’s sinister past. He told Variety, “My past projects have leaned into individual crimes and criminals, but I have never explored the role a particular location has played in creating an environment in which multiple crimes seemingly take place over and over again.”
Adding, “The fact that Elisa disappeared in a location that has a multi-decade history of crimes is what made her case fascinating to me.”
6. Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story
Release date: Expected 2021 on Netflix
Netflix has reportedly picked up mega-producer Ryan Murphy’s limited series ‘Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story’. The official short synopsis on IMDB reads: “Story of the Milwaukee Monster told from the perspective of the victims and police incompetency that allowed the Wisconsin native to go on a multiyear killing spree.”
Dahmer was a serial killer and cannibal who murdered and dismembered 17 boys and men. He had a twisted zombie-like experiment in mind for his victims. He attempted lobotomies with a drill on his last four victims; pouring hydrochloric acid into their skulls.
The serial killer explained, “I wanted an indefinite effect – so I wouldn’t have to go out looking or partners. That’s why I tried the drilling technique – so I could keep them alive, interactive, but on my terms.”
Oscar nominee Richard Jenkins (The Shape of Water) will star as Dahmer’s father. Showrunners are still yet to find a lead actor who will take on the role of Dahmer himself. (So we would like to take this opportunity to suggest Evan Peters would be perfect for the role!)
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5. American Crime Story – Impeachment
Release date: Expected 2021 on FX/BBC
Jeffrey Dahmer is not the only story Ryan Muprhy will be bringing to our screens next year; he also has his sights set on one of the biggest sex scandals of our time.
In 2018, Murphy optioned ‘A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Sex Scandal that Nearly Brought Down a President’, Jeffrey Toobin’s book about Monica Lewinsky’s relationship with the 42nd President of the United States. However, Murphy insisted he would only produce the series if Lewinsky signed up as a co-producer.
Titled ‘American Crime Story – Impeachment’ the series will star Clive Owen as the former president and Beanie Feldstein as Lewinsky. ‘American Horror Story’ actress Sarah Paulson will portray Linda Tripp, a former American civil servant and friend of Monica’s who secretly recorded confidential conversations they shared.
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 late”. 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.”
4. Dr. Death
Release date: Expected 2021 on NBC
In October, it was announced that Joshua Jackson (‘Little Fires Everywhere’) will replace Jamie Dornan (‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, ‘The Fall’) as the star of the limited series ‘Dr. Death’. Dornan reportedly had to drop out due to pandemic-related production delays no longer making it feasible for his schedule to allow him to star in the project.
The series will tell the story of Christopher Duntsch; a Texas surgeon convicted of gross malpractice after thirty-one of his patients were left seriously injured and two patients died during his operation. He is currently serving a life sentence in prison.
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, once considered one of the greatest upcoming neurosurgery practitioners, made many bold statements to his colleagues such as: “Everybody’s doing it wrong. I’m the only clean minimally invasive guy in the whole state.”
3. The Barking Murders
Release date: Expected 2021 on BBC
Another production that has hit huge delays is ‘The Barking Murders’ starring Stephen Merchant as serial killer Stephen Port. Also known as ‘The Grindr Killer’, Port, who lived in Barking, London, received a life sentence in 2016. Port was eventually convicted of murdering four young men.
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 2021 on BBC.
Following on from David Tennant’s successful portrayal of Dennis Nilsen in the series ‘Des’ (2020), we’re sure this will be another British-produced true crime hit.
2. The Devil in the White City
Release date: Expected late 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.