The Most Underrated True Crime Movies Of The 2010s

List Rules
Vote up the true crime movies that never got the attention they deserved.

True crime has had an upsurge in interest over the past decade, and for every lurid headline, cold case, or famed slayer, there's been a wealth of books, TV series, and movies to follow.

Of course, some movies get more attention than others - so it's time to shine a light on a handful of underrated true crime movies from the 2010s that were overshadowed, faded away at the box office, or went virtually unnoticed. These movies may not be household classics - yet - but they'll fill the void for anyone who needs their true crime fix. Some are based on incidents we've all dissected and discussed at length, while others examine stories you may have never even heard of. For fans of all things dark and twisty, prepare for the binge of the decade.


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    With such an all-star cast, you might be surprised you've never heard of or seen Lawless, a 2012 film centering around three bootlegging brothers in the moonshine business. Set in the 1930s, Lawless provides all the visuals and details one could want in a Prohibition-era period piece. The Bondurant brothers (the real-life inspiration for the story) are legendary in Virginia for not only their moonshine, but also for the lives they claimed during their exploits.

    Shia LaBeouf plays the youngest and most sensitive brother, while Tom Hardy plays the eldest and least squeamish of the trio. Speaking of squeamish, there may be some parts of the film that require eye-covering or even fast-forwarding. Take an illegal liquor trade and throw in Chicago gangsters and no enforced law, and gore shall ensue. It's worth it, though, even just for Hardy's thick rural accent and a Depression-era Jessica Chastain.

    • Actors: Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Jason Clarke, Guy Pearce, Jessica Chastain
    • Released: 2012
    • Directed by: John Hillcoat
  • Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile
    Photo: Netflix

    It's possible that with Netflix's release of its documentary series, Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, six months prior, people weren't quite ready to dive into the fictional version. Or it could be that no one was chomping at the bit to see their beloved erstwhile Troy Bolton (Zac Efron) playing a serial predator. Maybe the title was just too long. Whatever the case, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile provides a glimpse into the charming, attractive side of Ted Bundy, following his relationship with ex-girlfriend Liz Kendall (Lily Collins).

    As he impressively evokes Bundy's growing desperation, Efron excels at switching between charmer and psychopath. In some moments, you might find yourself, like Liz, asking, "Wait, could this guy really have done all of these terrible things?" In a bit of poetic license near the end, the film finally makes Bundy answer this question definitively. No matter how convincing his assertions to the contrary often seem to be, ultimately the answer is "yes."

    • Actors: Zac Efron, Lily Collins, Haley Joel Osment, Kaya Scodelario, John Malkovich
    • Released: 2019
    • Directed by: Joe Berlinger
  • My Friend Dahmer
    Photo: FilmRise

    If you're looking for the gory details of Jeffrey Dahmer's misdeeds, this is not the right film. And perhaps some of the lackluster audience reactions are due to the fact that not a whole lot happens in the film itself. My Friend Dahmer, based on the graphic novel by a high school friend of the Milwaukee Cannibal, tracks Dahmer's high school days leading up to his first slaying in 1978. The film is more slice-of-life than murder mystery - though to be fair, Dahmer's slice of life includes a lot more animal abuse than most.

    The movie doesn't try to offer rationalizations or answers for what made Dahmer into the terror he became. Rather, it shows him grappling with common teenage hardships - the divorce of his parents, his popularity amongst his peers, loneliness - and uncommon ones as well. His fascination with corpses, for instance, speaks to a long-present darker side to his psyche. The filmmakers don't ask viewers to pity Dahmer, but the film does raise questions about nature versus nurture, and whether there's anything that could've been done to put him on another path.

    • Actors: Ross Lynch, Alex Wolff, Anne Heche, Dallas Roberts, Miles Robbins
    • Released: 2017
    • Directed by: Marc Meyers
  • When it comes to serial killers, Robert Durst may be one of the most interestingly bizarre. He had money, power, and privilege, and (allegedly) got away with so much for so long. Throw Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst into the mix and you'd think this movie would have been a hit. Durst himself was such a fan of the film that he called director Andrew Jarecki and offered to do interviews, leading to the hit HBO docuseries The Jinx.

    All Good Things might not leave viewers with quite as strong a stance on Durst's guilt as The Jinx later does. It alters the characters' names from their real-life counterparts and doesn't show its cards right away. The result is a slow build of psychological suspense, with the marriage between Gosling and Dunst's characters crumbling as the former is pulled into his familial orbit of money and power. Dunst is genuinely haunting in her portrayal of Durst's first wife; watching her character unravel from a warm, joyful person to a battered woman living in fear is utterly heartbreaking.

    • Actors: Ryan Gosling, Kirsten Dunst, Frank Langella, Lily Rabe, Philip Baker Hall
    • Released: 2010
    • Directed by: Andrew Jarecki