New true crime documentaries take Netflix stage


Image courtesy Netlix

The true crime documentary, Bad Vegan, airs on Netflix.

This year is bringing with it binge-worthy documentary films and series, and with summer coming, new shows are being uploaded to the Netflix platform. Whether it be a vegan fugitive on the run or a murderer possessed by a demon, there is a compelling story waiting to be unraveled in each.

The Netflix docu-series, The Bad Vegan recounts the tale of Sarma Melngailis and how she went from a celebrated vegan restaurant owner to a convicted criminal. It was discovered that Melngailis had stolen millions of dollars from her empire. Those closest to Melngailis say Anthony Strangis, her then boyfriend, was responsible. According to Vanity Fair, “Strangis resorted to cult-like techniques, including gaslighting, sleep deprivation, and sexual humiliation, to control her.” It is an easy watch with plot twists throughout, one that will definitely keep viewers hooked.

The Tinder Swindler is a documentary film directed by Felicity Morris (“Don’t F**k with Cats”). It tells the story of Israeli fraudster Shimon Hayut who used the dating app Tinder to con unsuspecting women out of large sums of money by claiming he was Simon Leviev, son of Russian diamond mogul Lev Leviev. His lifestyle, however, was financed by defrauding countless women across Europe, before being arrested in 2019. In a surprising twist, Hayut was released from prison early, much to the dismay of his victims. The Tinder Swindler was released on Netflix in February, and is intriguing and informative. But at a runtime of two hours, viewers feel that it becomes repetitive after the first hour.

Scream: The True Story premiered on Discovery+ on January 14. It tells the tale of the real-life murderer who inspired Kevin Williamson’s screenplay for “Scream.” Danny Rolling, the Gainesville Ripper, murdered eight victims in Shreveport, LA, and Gainesville, FL, from 1989-1990. Rolling claimed at the time of the murders he was possessed by a demon named “Gemini.” The docu-special features paranormal investigation and expert interviews to assess whether supernatural forces were, in fact, at play. Despite the high expectations for this documentary, viewers were let down. According to a critic from Nightmarish Conjurings, “There’s nothing more disappointing when you snuggle down for a solid true-crime documentary only to find yourself watching [people] asking for ghost communication”. Because this story revolves around a true case, it was disappointing to see so much of it cover the paranormal. 

Despite critiques from various viewers, these documentaries are still the most popular shows currently on Netflix. Movie watchers and true crime fanatics alike can watch these and decide if they are worthy of being the top rated documentaries themselves.