True crime on Netflix: 5 best TV series and feature documentaries to watch - from Madoff to The Imposter

The five best true crime series and films to stream now on Netflix, including Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street, and The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker

Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street

The four-part series explores the rise and dramatic fall of the American financier and fraudster Bernie Madoff, who masterminded the largest Ponzi scheme in history, worth about $68 billion.

The documentary series follows Madoff from his early days trading in penny stocks and his decision to set up a side business which takes off and sees his clients receive strong returns. As Madoff’s seemingly inexplicable success attracts the attention of the authorities, his massive fraud is uncovered. It is not until the financial crash of 2008 that Madoff is finally caught, but for some of his victims, a long battle to recover their substantial losses awaits.

Cast of Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street

The Imposter

Shocking 2012 feature-length documentary The Imposter digs into the strange case of a 16 year old boy who, in the 1990s, claimed to be the son of a grieving Texas family who had disappeared three years previously. Now living in Spain, the boy explains his sudden disappearance through a grisly tale of kidnap and torture that is almost unbelievable.

When he reunites with his supposed lost family it becomes apparent that all isn’t as it seems. As the plot thickens, the true identity of the boy is eventually revealed. The documentary is told through interviews, dramatic reconstructions, and home video footage.

Still from The Imposter

The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker

Discussed on Screen Babble last week, there’s more to The Hatcher Wielding Hichhiker that you might expect. This feature-length documentary follows the sudden rise to fame of a drifter, Kai, who in 2013 attacked the man who picked him up with - you guessed it - a hatchet. Kai went viral after a video of him explaining what had happened received more than 8 million views.

He said that the man who had given him a lift talked to him about abusing children, and then hit a pedestrian with his car. When a woman came to help, Kai claimed that the driver grabbed her - Kai then pulled a hatchet from his backpack and hit the man in the head, injuring him. Despite not being charged for the incident, Kai would later face a murder conviction over an entirely different case.

Kai The Hatchet Wielding Hitchiker will arrive on Netflix this month. (Netflix)

Catching Killers

This tense series features interviews with the investigators behind infamous serial killer cases as they speak openly about their extraordinary efforts to catch the perpetrators and bring them to justice before they strike again. One major case explored in the series is the Toronto Village Killer - as several gay men go missing in Toronto, detectives confront claims of cannibalism.

Also featured in the series are the Happy Face Killer who took the life of a young Oregon woman in the 1990s, the Green River Killer, who evaded police in Seattle for decades, and the Phoenix Serial Shooter, who targeted pedestrians at random, seemingly killing for sport. There are two seasons of four episodes each on Netflix now.

Catching Killers uncovers every clue and chases every lead in order to solve cases involving the most deadly criminals, already two seasons deep despite only being released late last year.

Evil Genius

Evil Genius is a four-part 2018 documentary which tells the extraordinary story of the pizza bomber heist and the subsequent investigation into a mismatched list of suspects by the FBI. The heist itself saw a pizza deliveryman who robbed a bank and was subsequently killed when an explosive collar he was wearing detonated.

It is still not known whether the robber had been forced to commit the crime. Years after the events, new witnesses continued to come forward, while others believed to be involved in the crime are found dead. The series follows the case all the way to court, where the jury delivers its verdict.

Evil Genius: The True Story of America's Most Diabolical Bank Heist