In recent years, the real crime genre has been oversaturated, with an outpouring of podcasts on the subject. Even more Netflix docuseries than one can watch without having nightmares. A dramatised, based-on-a-true-story might provide some emotional space to a true event if you need a little documentary distance while still chasing the natural curiosity that comes from knowing a stunning incident actually happened.

Below are some crime films based on true stories.

1. Scream (1996)

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Director- Wes Craven

Following the murders of two high school lovers by an unknown assailant, a mysterious spike in terror and gossip occurs in a tranquil Californian community. A serial killer begins murdering high school students, with a young adolescent girl. An eccentric and dramatic cop, and a selfish and ambitious reporter attempting to solve the case. A peculiar series of events unfolds in and around Woodsboro, involving a group of high school pals, an accused killer, a suspicious boyfriend. Also, of course, the mysterious killer wearing a ghost face mask. Suspenseful, witty, and a smidgeon gruesome.

True Event:- Daniel Harold Rolling, commonly known as the Gainsville Ripper, was the inspiration for this story. He murdered five college students in Gainesville, Florida, over the course of four days in 1990. He even severed the head of one woman and placed it on her shelf.

2. The Trial of Chicago 7 (2020)

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Director- Aaron Sorkin

Attorney General John Mitchell appoints prosecutors Richard Schultz and Tom Foran to prosecute eight persons for instigating violence during and after the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. There unarmed demonstrators are in array against armed-to-the-teeth police officers in Lincoln Park. Eight ringleaders are in suspect. They are in charging with conspiracy and encouraging riot in 1969, during Richard Nixon’s administration. The Conspiracy Eight consisted of Tom Hayden and Rennie Davis, enthusiastic and silver-tongued leaders of the Students for a Democratic Society; Yippies Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, who ran the Youth International Party; radical pacifist and conscientious objector David Dellinger; anti-war activist John Froines; and teaching assistant Lee Weiner.

Bobby Seale, a co-founder of the Black Panther Party, whose case is later deems a mistrial. All of the defendants, with the exception of Bobby Seale, were represented by William Kunstler and Leonard Weinglass, who were convinced that the allegations were politically motivated. Julius Hoffman, a racist judge, refused to allow Ramsey Clark, a progressive former US Attorney General, to testify in front of the jury.

True Event:- Eight people were charged with plotting to incite riots during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, but the case quickly became known as the Chicago Seven when Black Panther Party leader Bobby Seale was bound and gagged in the courtroom after objecting to the fact that he wouldn’t be represented by his preferred lawyer.

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3. The Afflicted (2011)

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Director- Jason Stoddard

‘Mother Maggie,’ is a deranged mother of four who abuses her children to an inconceivable degree while defending her actions with her own twisted interpretations of the Bible. Three daughters are constantly afraid of their mentally ill mother abusing and abusing them. It appears impossible to escape their mother’s fury, and it proves to be fatal. 

True Event:- After abusing all of her children for years, Theresa Knorr was caught and charged with murdering two of her six children. Constant slappings, holding a gun to their heads, and force-feeding her girls were among the forms of abuse she suffered.

4. Karla (2006)

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Director- Joel Bender

A story about a woman who falls in love with a serial killer and rapist. Karla Homolka marries Paul Bernardo despite the fact that she helped him rape and murder her younger sister. He brags to Karla about past rapes he’s committed and engages Karla in the sexual assault and murder of two more female victims through their marriage. The story is told through Karla’s point of view.

True Event:- Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo, a married couple, kidnapped, tortured, and raped at least three women, keeping them in their home for days before murdering them. Karla even assisted in the drugging and recording of her 15-year-old sister while Paul sexually attacked her. Both were guilty. Karla, on the other hand, took a plea bargain and later applied for parole.

5. An American Crime (2007)

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Director- Tommy O’Haver

The film tells the story of one of the most terrible atrocities against a single victim ever committed. The two daughters of travelling carnival workers, Sylvia and Jennie Fae Likens. They are sent to the Indianapolis house of single mother Gertrude Baniszewski and her six children for an extended visit. Times are harsh, and Gertrude’s financial demands force her to make this arrangement before she realises how the strain will test her fragile personality. The events of the next three months are both thrilling and terrifying.

True Event:- Sylvia Likens and her sister were sent to live with Gertrude Baniszewski, a mother of seven, in 1965, as a result of their carnival worker wages. They paid Gertrude $20 each week to look after Sylvia and her sister. But when one of their checks was late, Gertrude vented her anger on Sylvia. Sylvia was abused by mom and her children. As well as other neighbourhood youngsters, for three months before she was slain. The event also inspired another film called ” The Girl Next Door” directed by Luke Greenfield.

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6. Henry: A Portrait Of Serial Killer (1986)

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Director- John McNaughton

The film follows Henry and his roommate Otis, who Henry introduces to the practise of murdering individuals at random. After Otis’ sister Becky arrives to live with them, the film depicts a murdering spree. Strangers are killed, and in one especially heinous crime, they murder all three members of a family during a home invasion. Henry lacks sympathy in all he does, and he isn’t one to leave any form of evidence behind.

True Event:- In 1983, Henry Lee Lucas confessed to over 600 murders; and police jurisdictions across the country were eager to close multiple cases, so they eagerly believed him. However, once DNA testing became relevant, evidence proved that many of Henry’s confessions were false. However, he did for sure kill his mother, his girlfriend, and his landlord.

7. Changeling (2008)

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Director- Clint Eastwood

The year is 1928 in Los Angeles. Christine Collins, a single mother, gets home from work to discover her nine-year-old son Walter has vanished. She phones the Los Angeles Police Department to start a search. Five months later, a kid matching the description is discovered in Illinois, and he claims to be her son. The L.A.P.D. reunites mother and kid amid pomp and photographs, but she says he is not her son. The cops dismiss her as a liar or a crazed lunatic. They utilise government power to stifle and threaten her when she joins a minister in his public criticism of the police. Meanwhile, a cop visits a rundown property in search of a Canadian teen who has no legal status; the teen narrates a gruesome story.

True Event:- Christine Collins, who realised her son had gone missing in 1928. A youngster claiming to be her son appeared in Illinois a few months later. The LAPD, who had failed miserably in their search for Christine’s son, organised a public meeting between the two. Christine, on the other hand, understood the boy wasn’t her son when she saw him. Despite having strong evidence that the boy wasn’t her son, Christine was arrested and incarcerated in a psychiatric facility, where she was tortured. Christine’s son was most likely abducted by a serial killer, and the phoney son confessed eventually.

8. Spotlight (2015)

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Director- Tom McCarthy

In 2001, The Boston Globe hired Jewish editor Marty Baron, who asked the Spotlight team to look into the priest John Geoghan, who was suspected of child abuse, and the lawyer Mitchell Garabedian, who claimed that Cardinal Law knew what his priest did. Baron and their leader Ben Bradlee, Jr. fully support Walter ‘Robby’ Robinson, Mike Rezendes, Sacha Pfeiffer, and Matt Carroll in launching an investigation into the priest, and they contact the initially reluctant Garabedian; the lawyer Eric Macleish, who has defended many victims; the leader of the victims’ rights organisation Phil Saviano; and several victims who agree to meet them. They confirm the names of twenty paedophile priests in Boston after a year of inquiry, and they publish the storey revealing Cardinal Law’s prior knowledge of the priests’ child abuse.

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True Event:- Priests accused of sexual abuse and misconduct were being systematically removed and allowed to work in other parishes, according to the Boston Globe news team, who exposed the Catholic child abuse scandal in 2002. The journalists identified up to 12 priests before going after the Catholic Church as a whole.

9. Cleveland Abduction (TV Movie 2015)

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Director- Alex Kalymnios

Michelle Knight, a single mother, is walking to court in 2002 for the custody hearing of her five-year-old son Joey, with whom she had lost custody. She realises she is late and accepts a lift from her friend Ariel Castro, the father of one of her classmates. He seduces Michelle by telling her that his dog has given birth to multiple puppies, one of which he would like to gift to her for Joey. He imprisons her in a dark room with chains once she enters his residence. Michelle has been beaten and subjected to sexual assault and abortion for eleven years. Ariel also kidnaps and abuses Amanda Berry, who had a child with him, and Gina DeJesus in 2003 and 2004. In 2013, Amanda manages to flee the house, and the police arrive to free the women.

True Event:- Michelle Knight, 21, Amanda Berry, 16, and Gina DeJesus, 14, were kidnapped and tortured by Ariel Castro in the early 2000s. Because he was the father of one of their friends, each woman got in the car with him. Castro imprisoned the ladies in his home for for 11 years, and Knight even gave birth while imprisoned. In 2013, they were able to flee.

10. Zodiac (2007)

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Director- David Fincher

Robert Graysmith works for the San Francisco Chronicle as a cartoonist. Paul Avery, a reporter whose drinking interferes with his profession, is irritated by his eccentricities. Because of their shared fascination in the Zodiac killer, the two become friends. As Avery’s life slides into drunken oblivion, Graysmith gets increasingly consume with the case. Graysmith’s amateur detective work leads him to David Toschi, a police inspector who has yet to apprehend the Zodiac, Sherwood Morrill, a handwriting expert, Linda del Buono, a felon who knew one of the Zodiac’s victims, and others. Graysmith’s career, his wife, and his children all fade into the background when compared to catching the Zodiac.

True Event:- The infamous Zodiac Killer of the late 1960s and early 1970s who terrorised San Francisco. The killer sent scathing letters to San Francisco newspapers and made mocking phone calls to police after each murder, mocking them for not being able to catch him. Complex codes and symbols gets frequently include in the letters, which appeared to have no rhyme or purpose.