What to watch and where to find it -- over the holiday season and beyond!
This winter feels colder and darker than ever, with many of us on some version of lockdown and unable to celebrate the holidays and the new year in-person with friends and family. We know you’ll likely spend a little extra time chilling at home alone this season, and we’ve got your watch list covered! From recent true crime docs you might have missed, to offbeat and spooky holiday classics — read on for our favorites.
ICYMI: Our Fave Recent-ish True Crime Docs
Tread (2019) - Netflix
Welder Marvin Heemeyer had a rough time in the small town of Granby, Colorado, where he experienced repeated harassment by some of the locals. He reacted by going on a violent rampage in a “Killdozer” that he fortified himself using steel, concrete, and guns.
Captive (2016) - Netflix
Somehow, I missed this one when it first came out (maybe you did too!)
This is a series that reconstructs high-stakes hostage situations from History. Each episode digs into how hostage negotiators work to deescalate the situation, while kidnapping victims recount their own side of the story. How would the situation play out if you were taken at sea? Or were trapped on the wrong side of a riot? Watch how it all unfolds in these 8 episodes.
Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath (2016-2019) - Netflix
Scientology is a hard beast to tackle, as its followers are known to publicly attack the character of anyone who strays from the flock, or dares criticize the cult. As such, it is all the more impressive to see Leah Remini dissect Scientology’s most abusive and controlling practices in hour-long chunks, week-after-week, as a survivor of the cult herself. Remini escaped their grip in 2013, and has been working hard to unveil the evils of Scientology ever since. Most impressively, Leah gives a platform to several other survivors, who the cult works so hard to silence, to speak about what they have endured.
Heaven's Gate: The Cult of Cults (2020) - HBO Max
Even if you think you know everything about this infamous UFO cult, this 4-part series will surprise you with new information and never-before-seen footage!
Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult (2020) - Starz
The Vow got a lot of hype and I also watched it and loved it, but Seduced is so much better! Where The Vow has been criticized for being too soft on him, Seduced doesn’t pussyfoot around the fact that cult leader Keith Raniere is a dark and manipulative monster, and he and some of his closest followers carried out some disturbing acts of abuse and held some deeply concerning views.
Crazy, Not Insane (2020) - HBO
Psychiatrist Dorothy Lewis became interested at an early age in why people kill. As a professional she gravitated towards a specialization in Serial Killers. This doc is so fascinating — Dorothy explains the struggles to be taken seriously in murder trials over the decades, her thoughts on Dissociative Identity Disorder, the death penalty, and what seems to be the recipe for a Serial Killer. (A heaping helping of early childhood abuse, sprinkled with a bit of head injury…) Highly recommend.
Love Fraud (2019) - Showtime
Love Fraud tells the story of the women scorned by one Richard Scott Smith, who used the Internet to prey upon women looking for genuine romantic connection and conned them out of money. In this 4-part series, the women work together to find this creep in hopes to publicly put him on blast once and for all.
Trial 4 (2020) - Netflix
In this series, Sean K. Ellis works to expose corruption and systemic racism throughout the police organization — all while fighting to prove his own innocence. Ellis was wrongly convicted in the 1993 killing of a police officer.
Crime Dramas + Thrillers
The Lie (2020) - Amazon Prime
This is a wild ride of near-constant suspense. If you love intense thrillers, this one’s for you. Divorced parents get caught up in a web of lies as they opt to cover for their daughter when she admits to having done something heinous to her best frenemy. When deciding what to yell at the screen in tense moments, I like to consider at each twist and turn, ‘What would you do if this was a choose your own adventure novel?’
Your Honor (2020) - Showtime
Falling in step — What would you do if you were a high-profile judge and your son was involved in a hit-and-run? Probably not what Bryan Cranston’s character decides to do, at least after watching this showtime series.
The Flight Attendant (2020) - HBO Max
This show is so slick and beautiful right down to the opening credits, reminiscent of Catch Me If You Can. The drama centres around Kaley Cuoco’s hard-partying flight attendant character, and the mess she gets caught up in when she wakes up next to a murdered man in Bangkok one morning. Wanting to avoid being the next Amanda Knox, she goes into work like normal instead of calling the police, and then starts to take the investigation into her own hands as curiosity gets the better of her.
The Undoing (2020) - HBO
The denial is strong with Nicole Kidman’s character, Grace, when her husband is accused of the murder of another mom at her son’s well-to-do private school. Watch her wrap her head around who she married in six episodes.
Revisiting All Things Zodiac
The Most Dangerous Animal of All (2020) - FX
A man abandoned by his parents goes on a quest to find his biological father, and in the process comes to believe his dad is the Zodiac Killer. Whether you believe this man is guilty or not, it’s fascinating to watch this series zoom in on one particular perspective so hard. The show sheds new light on the Zodiac case as it is examined under a new lens.
The Hunt for the Zodiac Killer (2017) - History Channel
This one really puts the focus on the Z340 cipher as being one of the most difficult in history to crack, which is why it’s so fun to rewatch, knowing that amateur codebreakers recently succeeded to crack it!
Zodiac (2007) - Netflix
The dramatic recreation of a high-profile serial killer case always gives me fuzzy festive feelings — it’s the perfect finishing touch to a warm-and-cozy stay inside by the fire vibe.
Bad Santa (2003) - Amazon Prime
Rauchy, offbeat Christmas at its best. This one’s a work of fiction, but history has seen plenty of real-life ‘Bad Santas’ whose crime sprees fly under the cover of twinkling holiday decor. Read about the Top 5 Bad Santas from True Crime History.
Die Hard (1988) - Amazon Prime
A classic for many, Die Hard of course tells the story of NYC police detective John McClane, who gets caught up in a terrorist takeover of a downtown skyscraper while visiting his estranged wife at Christmastime.
Home Alone (1990) - Disney+
This is one that I rewatch every year. Watching the slapstick action of a couple of bumbling criminals get thwarted by an insurmountably bratty child is absolutely my idea of a good time. And I’ll take any excuse to see Catherine O’Hara in virtually any role.
The French Connection (1971) - Amazon Prime
The NYPD, Christmas, and Crime mix together to make the ultimate festive cocktail. In this smart thriller, a couple of NARCs chase around a drug smuggler with a holiday backdrop.
The Godfather (1972) - Netflix
Cold blooded murder, cold snow crunching underfoot. Here’s another classic-turned-christmas-classic for the gangster-inclined. Watch Michael Corleone’s uprising from family outsider to mafia boss.
8 Women (2002) - iTunes/Apple TV
This french film with an ensemble cast of 8 high-profile french actresses, is like an Agatha Christie novel brought to life in a dark comedy musical. 8 Women spending their Christmas holiday in a sprawling country mansion, one murdered man with a dagger in his back, and a musical murder mystery ensues!
Spooky Christmas: Our Fave Holiday Vibe
Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) - Disney+
This Halloween movie that doubles as a Christmas movie is a spooky staple in my household from October to January! Halloween freak Jack Skellington keeps it creepy as he makes room for a new Christmas obsession.
Gremlins (1984) - Amazon Prime
An unparalleled 80’s classic, this creature feature and Christmas caper centres in on adorable little critters called mogwai who wreak havoc on a whole town. Gizmo is a Christmas gift, and when his new owner disregards his particular care instructions, Gizmo goes haywire and gets a whole gang of Gremlins in on the trouble.
Edward Scissorhands (1990) - Disney+
Edward Scissorhands is a sensitive and misunderstood creature who unfortunately can’t keep out of trouble as he is burdened with razor-sharp blades for hands. But even complicated misfits like Edward deserve a little comfort and joy over the holidays!
Better Watch Out (2016) - Amazon Prime
A psychological horror that takes place over the holidays with a handful of classic tropes you’ll appreciate. The horrors that befall this babysitter are definitely coming from within the house, and she pulls some Home Alone-style tactics to try to escape.
Dead End (2004) - Shudder
The Christmas trip to grandmas that should have been avoided. A family drive takes a dark turn in this holiday horror. Watch this one after you hang up the phone in frustration over telling your telling your Aunt Patty for the seventeenth time that holiday gatherings are being discouraged considering the global pandemic.
Black Christmas (2019) - HBO Max
If you haven’t seen the original from 1974, go watch that first. Its a classic Canadian Christmas horror that was based on an Urban Legend said to have taken place in a neighbourhood of Montreal! Wonderfully campy and perfectly 70s.
This 2019 update didn’t exactly measure up to the original, but ran LAPS around the 2006 remake. I also appreciated the modern touches like feminism and inclusivity.
That’s it — Phew! Did you make it through the list? Let us know in the comments which of our picks resonated with you — and which surprised you! — and as always, check back with MMN anytime you’re looking for something spooky to watch.