This story originally ran October 26, 2020
As anyone alive right now can attest, real life is often as terrifying as any movie. Leatherface is scary, sure, but can his buzzing (and entirely imaginary) chainsaw really compete with the actual horrors lurking beyond your front door? For those seeking a different and maybe deeper chill than the kind your typical Halloween staple provides, there’s a growing canon of documentaries that prove how much stranger than fiction truth can really be—and how much spookier or more disturbing, too. We’ve cited nine of them here: an unsettling mixture of true-crime chillers, urban-legend examinations, and petrifying history lessons. For the sake of keeping the list manageable (and at least Halloween-adjacent), we left out climate-change docs and political exposés, frightening as both can be. The latter, of course, would be seasonally appropriate in a whole different way, but there are limits, even this time of year, to how much real-world horror you should really beam straight into your living room.