15 Disturbing Documentaries That Will Stay With You

Ever had that eerie feeling of being so captivated by a documentary that you just can’t shake it off? While some films offer popcorn fun, others take us on a wild rollercoaster ride into the unexpected corners of reality. From jaw-dropping revelations to “Did they just show that?” moments, these documentaries promise more twists and turns than a thriller. Here we explore documentaries that are not just buzz-worthy but unforgettable.

Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008)

Photo Credit: MSNBC Films.

Kurt Kuenne directed this documentary, and was originally a love letter to the director’s deceased friend, Andrew Bagby. It was intended for Bagby’s son, Zachary, to get to know his father. The film morphs into a tragic narrative when the prime suspect in Bagby’s murder (and Zachary’s mother) is released on bail and gains custody of Zachary.

Tell Me Who I Am (2019)

Photo Credit: Lightbox, Netflix.

Directed by Ed Perkins, this gripping Netflix documentary delves into the complex bond between identical twin brothers Alex and Marcus Lewis. When Alex, at 18, loses all his memories due to a motorcycle accident, he relies solely on Marcus to reconstruct their past. As the two navigate the aftermath of the accident, they grapple with the weight of memory, trust, and the painful intricacies of their shared history, leading to profound revelations that test the strength of their relationship. The film is a poignant exploration of trauma, identity, and the lengths one might go to protect a loved one.

The Dying Room (1995)

Photo Credit: Lauderdale Productions.

This harrowing documentary exposes a deeply troubling aspect of China’s one-child policy. Directed by Kate Blewett and Brian Woods, “The Dying Room” unveils the bleak conditions faced by many orphaned Chinese girls left to die in state-run orphanages due to societal preference for male children. These institutions were termed “dying rooms” because of the severe neglect and cruelty inflicted upon the children. The last 10 minutes of this documentary will haunt you forever.

The Act of Killing (2012)

Photo Credit: Final Cut for Real.

This film documents former Indonesian death-squad leaders as they reenact their real-life mass killings in various cinematic genres, from Westerns to musicals. It’s a haunting look at the banality of evil and how the victors often write history.

The Bridge (2006)

Photo Credit: Easy There Tiger Productions.

This documentary focuses on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, a notorious hotspot for suicides. It captures actual suicides and includes these disturbing images with family interviews, painting a powerful portrait of despair and the human condition.

Deliver Us From Evil (2006)

Photo Credit: Disarming Films.

Directed by Amy Berg, this film centers on Oliver O’Grady, a priest who molested various children in Northern California during the 1970s and ’80s. It’s a critical examination of the Catholic Church’s response to these crimes.

Titicut Follies (1967)

Photo Credit: Bridgewater Film.

Filmmaker Frederick Wiseman takes viewers inside the Massachusetts Correctional Institution in Bridgewater, a prison hospital for the criminally insane. The documentary highlights the harrowing conditions and treatment of the inmates. It’s not for the faint of heart.

There’s Something Wrong with Aunt Diane (2011)

Photo Credit: Moxie Firecracker Films, HBO.

This film, directed by Liz Garbus, investigates the puzzling story of Diane Schuler, who drove the wrong way into oncoming traffic, causing a collision that resulted in eight deaths, including children. The film seeks answers about why this event happened.

The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan (2010)

Photo Credit: Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).

This documentary, produced by Afghan journalist Najibullah Quraishi, exposes the ancient Afghan practice of “bacha bazi” (boy play), where wealthy men take in impoverished boys, train them as dancers, and often sexually abuse them. The film reveals a dark subculture and the harrowing experiences of the boys trapped within it, offering a sobering look at child exploitation and the challenges of societal change.

Night and Fog (1956)

Photo Credit: Argos Films, World Wonder Ring Stardom.

The French documentary is a seminal work about the Holocaust. It juxtaposes haunting footage of concentration camps after liberation with scenes from the camps’ operation during World War II.

Capturing the Friedmans (2003)

Photo Credit: Magnolia Pictures.

Director Andrew Jarecki explores the Friedman family’s disintegration after the father and son are charged with child molestation. The documentary raises questions about memory, media, and justice through home videos and interviews.

Earthlings (2005)

Photo Credit: Nation Earth.

Narrated by Joaquin Phoenix and directed by Shaun Monson, this film provides a commentary on how humans exploit animals. This documentary uses hidden cameras to expose the suffering endured by animals in various industries, including food, fashion, and entertainment—a tough watch for all animal lovers.

Blackfish (2013)

Photo Credit: CNN Films.

Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, this film delves into the life of the killer whale Tilikum, who was involved in the deaths of three people while in captivity. It criticizes the treatment of orcas in captivity and the practices of sea parks like SeaWorld.

Child of Rage (1992)

Photo Credit: HBO.

Directed by Gaby Monet, this documentary is a haunting exploration of childhood trauma and its profound effects. It features interviews with a young girl named Beth Thomas, who suffered severe behavioral problems due to early childhood abuse. Her chilling descriptions of her violent urges towards her adoptive family and herself are profoundly unsettling, offering a stark look at the long-term impact of child abuse.

Aokigahara: The Suicide Forest (2010)

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

The Aokigahara Forest at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan has an infamous reputation as a popular spot for suicides. Various documentaries have explored this dark aspect of the forest, delving into the cultural, societal, and personal reasons that have made this serene location a place of such profound sadness. The sheer number of suicides that occur there annually and the artifacts left behind by those who took their lives make this a profoundly unsettling watch.

Famous Figures Who Disappeared Without a Trace

Photo Credit: Compagnia Cinematografica Mondiale (CCM).

These famous figures’ mysterious disappearances have left us with more questions than answers. These puzzling vanishing acts have a way of captivating our imaginations, making us wonder what happened to these figures.

Famous Figures Who Disappeared Without a Trace

Horror Movies Which Are Unfortunately Based on a True Story

Photo Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM).

We’ve all huddled under our blankets, watching terrifying horror movies, reassuring ourselves it’s just fiction. But what if we told you that true events actually inspired some of the most hair-raising and mind-bending films? 

Horror Movies Which Are Unfortunately Based on a True Story

Actors Who Died on Set While Filming a Movie or TV Show

Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox.

We are mesmerized by the actors’ work whenever we watch a movie. Their performances often transport us into new realms, which leave us in awe of their skills. However, it is essential to remember that acting can be dangerous, and some actors have unfortunately died while working on film sets.

Actors Who Died on Set While Filming a Movie or TV Show

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