PopHorror Presents: 10 More Disturbing Documentaries

Often the subjects of documentaries can be far more disturbing than anything that can be found in a feature horror film. The following ten documentaries are based on true events and will haunt you long after the credits have ended. (Psst…here’s an interesting list of disturbing documentaries, which may or may not still be on Netflix!)

I will present them in no particular order. Here we go!

How to Survive a Plague

The story of the brave young men and women who successfully reversed the tide of an epidemic demanded the attention of a fearful nation and stopped AIDS from becoming a death sentence. This improbable group of activists bucked oppression and, with no scientific training, infiltrated government agencies and the pharmaceutical industry, helping to identify promising new medications and treatments and move them through trials and into drug stores in record time. In the process, they saved their own lives. One of the best documentaries of all time.



Journalist David Farrier stumbles upon a mysterious tickling competition online. As he delves deeper, he comes up against fierce resistance, but that doesn’t stop him from getting to the bottom of a story stranger than fiction. The film explores possible legal and ethical issues with certain individuals making the videos and is so much darker than you can ever imagine.


Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father

Written, produced, directed, edited, and scored by Kurt Kuenne. It is about Kuenne’s close friend Andrew Bagby, who was murdered after Bagby ended a relationship with a woman named Shirley Jane Turner. Turner was arrested as a suspect, and, shortly thereafter, announced she was pregnant with Bagby’s child, a boy she named Zachary. Kuenne interviewed numerous relatives, friends, and associates of Andrew Bagby and incorporated their loving remembrances into a film meant to serve as a cinematic scrapbook for the son who would never know his father. This film will hurt. It’s a sobering look at justice, innocence, love, and memories.


Abducted in Plain Sight

The twisting, turning, stranger-than-fiction true story of the Brobergs, a naive, church-going Idaho family that fell under the spell of a sociopathic neighbor with designs on their twelve-year-old daughter.


The Last Stop

The Elan School was the last stop. Set deep in the woods of Maine, Elan delivered controversial therapy to troubled teens. It was a meat grinder of raw emotion and harsh discipline. Some say it sold hope; others say it sold Hell.


The Act of Killing

A documentary that challenges former Indonesian death-squad leaders to reenact their mass killings in whichever cinematic genres they wish, including classic Hollywood crime scenarios and lavish musical numbers. The Act of Killing reveals why violence we hope would be unimaginable is not only imagined but also routinely performed. It is an effort to understand the moral vacuum that makes it possible for perpetrators of genocide to be celebrated on public television with cheers and smiles. It is a call to reexamine easy reassurances that we are the good guys fighting the bad guys, just because we say so.


The Nightmare

The documentary focuses on people suffering from sleep paralysis, a phenomenon where people find themselves temporarily unable to move, speak or react to anything while they are falling asleep or awakening. Occasionally this paralysis will be accompanied by physical experiences or hallucinations that have the potential to terrify the individual.


Shake Hands With the Devil: The Journey of Romeo Dallaire

Between April and June 1994, an estimated 800,000 Rwandans were killed in 100 days. Most of the dead were Tutsis at the hands of the Hutus. The genocide began when Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana’s plane was shot down above Kigali airport on April 6, 1994.

Canadian Armed Forces General Roméo Dallaire was put in charge of a United Nations peacekeeping force during this 1994 genocide. His proposal called for 5000 soldiers to permit orderly elections and the return of the refugees. The soldiers were never supplied, and the killing began.

The documentary tells the story of the now-retired Dallaire and shows his return to Rwanda after ten years.


Welcome to Leith

When a noted white supremacist moves into their town, the residents of Leith, North Dakota do what they can to prevent him from taking control of the municipality. We all like to think that we would allow all differences of opinion, personality, and character to stand, proudly quoting the First Amendment as we watch Neo-Nazis march down Main Street. Really think about it though. What if he preached hate and intolerance, and threatened to turn your neighborhood into one of the frontlines for the battle for White Power? Would you really live and let live?


The Invisible War

The Invisible War reveals the secretive and harrowing story of the sexual assault epidemic in the US military. Lauded by the journalists, lawmakers, and advocates for its deep influence on government policies, this award-winning documentary exposes the previously underreported culture of sexual assault and harassment within the armed forces.

The film features interviews with US military veterans who describe the events surrounding their sexual assaults. Their stories portray some common themes. For instance, the lack of an impartial and unbiased justice system, the absence of sufficient physical and emotional care, reprisals against victims instead of perpetrators, forced expulsion of victims from their military service, and unhindered advancement of perpetrators’ careers, etc. The film also reveals footage, often recorded by veterans themselves, showing their lives and personal struggles in the wake of their assaults.


I hope that you find at least one documentary (or 10!) to watch from this list. If you feel we missed one, please add it in the comments below.


About Christine Burnham

When not writing, Christine Burnham is watching TV, Horror films, reading, cooking, and spending time with her menagerie of animals.

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