I was a film major in college and took a couple of documentary classes. It was in one of these classes that I was shown what, to this day, is one of the scariest films I’ve ever seen: Jesus Camp. It is a glimpse into the goings on of evangelical church camps and the kids who frequent them. Things get pretty strange and uncomfortable pretty fast. The documentary only became more real and terrifying when I moved to Kansas City after college and found out one of the camps was located only about 8 miles down the road. Below are 14 more of the most chilling documentaries, as told by filmgoers on Reddit.
Crocodile Gennadiy, which has been renamed Almost Holy since I watched it. It’s about a Ukrainian Pastor who collects street children who are in basically the worst possible condition (full blown alcoholics by age 5, disease riddled from using dirty needles by age 7, living in the sewers, etc.) and brings them to his orphanage, which he cannot get state funding for because of the vigilante nature of his operation. He often takes the children against their will, beats the piss out of dealers who are selling to them, etc. This shit is 100% real, and makes the kids in Slumdog Millionaire look privileged. And the turns it takes during filming are really crazy. Be prepared emotionally.
My father made this documentary. The film is about teenage boys in an institution after being rejected or taken from their families. He made this film not knowing his only son was in an identical institution just a few hundred miles away. He did not know I existed. I did not know I was a product of paternity fraud. Only five years ago, my identity was revealed. When I was given his name, I googled it, and this film popped up immediately. I was floored in so many complex and confusing ways.
Shortly after seeing the film, I met my father for the first time at a local Starbucks. When he came to the understanding that I lived a life so close to the lives of the subjects of his documentary, he burst into tears. Spoiler Alert: All three died soon after the release of the film. My father, who I just met, in a very public location, hugged me in a torrent of tears and kept repeating “You survived. You survived.” The film is visceral and heartbreaking, as was the reality of the circumstances that we came to realize. We are now inseparable.
Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills. Warning: This documentary contains graphic, disturbing content. It is damn good, but remember, you will never be able to unsee it.
Trophy Kids is about parents who tried to make their children into top sportsmen; some of them (most) were utterly vile human beings who treated their kids like shit.
THE ACT OF KILLING
An incredibly callous man finally lets his demons catch up with him. The last scene is sickening.
It’s about the long term nuclear waste repository in Finland designed to safely store nuclear waste until it decays and becomes safe—a process that takes 100,000 years. They don’t even know what sign to put on the door to tell people to keep out because they can’t say how language will evolve over the next 100,000 years.
100,000 years in the past puts us in the Middle-Paleolithic period—imagine neolithic man trying to give you a warning: 1) Would you be able to understand him 2) Would you listen?
That last scene in the documentary was just chilling/infuriating/sickening.
In Romania, decades after they outlawed abortion and contraception, there are thousands of homeless children living alone in the subways. They are essentially feral children and most of those in the film are addicted to huffing paint. It’s terribly depressing, and truly chilling to think about what happens when abortions become illegal.
A documentary about people committing suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge in the year of 2004. It’s very graphic, you actually see people jumping to their deaths.
Chilling in the sense that most of the content is ex-scientology members reflecting on the blatant abuse they went through and how that was just an average day for them. Also Tom Cruise should be banned from wearing turtlenecks.
CHILD OF RAGE A documentary about a young girl who was sexually abused when she was a year old. She has a desire to murder her entire family and carries out numerous disturbing tasks.
THE SCARIEST DRUG IN THE WORLD
Scopolamine is a drug that when taken keeps a person coherent but makes them open to follow commands. It’s been used to make people steal, as a rape drug and a way to humiliate people. It’s known as a “chemical hypnosis”. This film documents people’s experience with it.
EVERY FUCKING DAY OF MY LIFE
It’s about a woman who was married to a complete sociopath. He would beat and threaten to kill her. He would also drive her out to this spot and have her beg and give him a good enough reason to not kill her. When he wasn’t beating her, he would beat their kids. The documentary shows her final days before going to prison for murdering her husband. The whole thing is on YouTube.
Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father. If you’re going to watch this, please do not look up the timeline of events beforehand. Just like most documentaries, it is definitely worth experiencing the rollercoaster of emotion by yourself.