Looking for the best factual programme from the past year that tries to answer questions about the possibility of an afterlife or explore a haunting or paranormal
topic in depth? Then the 2021 supernatural documentaries below might be for you.
1. Crime Scene: The Vanishing At The Cecil Hotel
The series is more of a true crime documentary than a paranormal series, but since its based on an infamous haunted location and also investigates the possible paranormal causes of a very famous haunting, the series is well worth a watch for any fan of the paranormal. The series explores the mysterious disappearance and subsequent death of Elisa Lam during her stay at the sinister Cecil Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. Throughout its history the Cecil Hotel has always had a dark persona. It has recently been thrust back into the limelight in a 'Ghost Adventures' special which saw Zak Bagans and his team try to find out once and for all exactly what happened to Elisa Lam at one of LA's most nefarious settings.
2. The Curse Of The Highgate Vampire
If you love a good ghost story wrapped up in true supernatural mystery, then this in-depth examination of an iconic paranormal case is a must-watch. It all started in 1970 with a man named David Farrant, who told the local newspaper "on three occasions I've seen what appeared to be a ghost-like figure inside the gates of Highgate Cemetery."
The hour-long Discovery+ original documentary features previously unseen tapes and fresh evidence. It drops on Discovery+ on Friday, October 29 and examines a wave of vampire hysteria surrounding Highgate Cemetery in North London, including the chaos that ensued when the story made the tea time news in the 1970s.
3. The Sleepless Unrest: The Real Conjuring Home
'The Sleepless Unrest: The Real Conjuring Home' follows a small group of filmmakers and paranormal investigators who live in one of the most famous haunted houses in the world in an attempt to experience the haunting in the same way the homeowners do.
In the new documentary film, husband-and-wife directors, Kendall and Vera Whelpton, tackle the haunting at the world-famous house that inspired the first movie in 'The Conjuring' franchise. They're joined on their mission by paranormal investigators Richel Stratton and Brian Murray. The gang of four weren't just locked down inside for one night, or even 24 hours. Incredibly, they spent two weeks living with the haunting for the film.
4. The Devil Made Me Do It
Following the release of the latest supernatural horror in the Conjuring franchise, 'The Devil Made Me Do It', Discovery+ dropped a new documentary that examined the original Ed and Lorraine Warren case that inspired the movie.
'Shock Docs: The Devil Made Me Do It' offers an in-depth look into the case, which includes fascinating archive clips of Ed and Lorraine talking about the case, plus never-before-seen interviews with the man at the centre of the case himself, Arne Johnson and his family.
The terrifying documentary delves into the true story of the harrowing true events leading up to the murder and the astonishing court case that followed Arne, a Connecticut man who used the defence "the devil made me do it." For the first time in US history, the existence of demonic forces is used as a defence at trial.
5. Surviving Death
This paranormal documentary series landed on Netflix in January. Created by director and executive producer, Ricki Stern ('Reversing Roe', 'Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work'), and based on best-selling author and journalist Leslie Kean's book, 'Surviving Death' is an in-depth investigative series exploring the possibility of an afterlife. Over six episodes, Surviving Death explores questions that have been contemplated throughout time: What does it mean to die, and is death the end of our existence? Weaving together innovative new research with firsthand accounts from those who’ve been close to—and even experienced—death, the series takes viewers on an extraordinary journey into a world beyond human existence as we know it.
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6. Ed Gein: The Real Psycho
Photo: © Discovery+
A two-hour Discovery+ documentary investigatinb whether the notorious American killer, Ed Gein, is still haunting his hometown in Wisconsin. The infamous psychopaths featured in the blockbuster movies 'Silence Of The Lambs', 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' and 'Psycho' were not just fictitious villains, they were inspired by a real-life personification of evil – Ed Gein. Gein was a convicted murderer and a grave robber who had a malicious obsession with human flesh.
Sixty years after Gein's arrest, documentary film producer and paranormal investigator Steve Shippy and world-renowned psychic medium Cindy Kaza travel to Gein's hometown in Plainfield, Wisconsin, to conduct investigations of the most haunted locations connected to the infamous killer.
7. The Enfield Poltergeist: Living The Horror
Warner Bros. have shared a short documentary about the Enfield Poltergeist featuring Janet and Margaret, who were the two young girls at the centre of the case. The 13 minute film tells the real story of one of the UK's best-known poltergeist cases that went on to inspire the 2016 movie, 'The Conjuring 2'.
The documentary examines the real haunting case, which took place in the London suburb of Enfield in 1977, the home of the Hodgson family. It features eye-witness accounts from Graham Morris, the first photographer to enter the house for a new report. As well as Lorraine Warren's own memories of the events in Enfield.
8. Demon In The White House
Is it possible two grieving mothers dabbling in séances inside the presidential residence conjured something other than their beloved sons? A 2021 'Shock Doc' exclusive to Discovery+ examines the supernatural consequences.
The seat of power at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue may be the most haunted site in the world. This documentary aims to uncloak the historic origins of the horror of two grieving First Ladies. Did they unwittingly invite an evil presence with a malevolent agenda that may still torment America’s presidents, as well as their families, visitors and closest advisors?
President Franklin Pierce and First Lady Jane Pierce lost their son Benjamin at age 11. President Abraham Lincoln and First Lady Mary Todd’s son, William, died at the same age. Both children perished during their father’s administration.
9. Unknown Dimension: The Story Of Paranormal Activity
If you love the iconic 'Paranormal Activity' movies, then this one is for you. This documentary takes a deep dive into the making of the films with exclusive interviews with cast and crew, never-before-seen footage from the movies, and a preview of the seventh instalment in the franchise. Sadly, the film is only available in the UA via Paramount+, but the service launches in the UK next year.
10. The Exorcism Of Roland Doe
Most of us are familiar with the film 'The Exorcist' based on William Peter Blatty's book by the same name, but did you know the spine-chilling story is true? This year a Discovery+ documentary examined the origins of the film. 'Shock Docs: The Exorcism Of Roland Doe' uncovers a secret diary revealing shocking new details of the real exorcism case that inspired the iconic horror film.
The victim of the real demonic possession was 13-year-old Roland Doe. In 1973 the movie shocked moviegoers. Overnight, the sinister presence of satanic evil seemed frighteningly real for millions of Americans. Catholic priests who perform exorcisms say what happened to the young boy more than 70 years ago is consistent with demonic possessions and that details of the story are true.