5 Spanish Crime Thriller Movies and TV Shows You Need to Watch Now

Language learning can be an exciting and engaging journey, especially when incorporating media like movies and TV shows into your study routine. Not only do they offer a break from traditional study methods, but they also provide real-life context and cultural insights that textbooks often lack. Watching Spanish crime thriller movies, in particular, can be highly beneficial. These gripping stories captivate viewers with their plots and complex characters, making language learning feel less like a chore and more like an adventure.

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Crime thrillers are especially useful for language learners because they often rely heavily on visual cues, helping you to understand the context even if you miss a few words. The suspenseful nature of these shows and movies encourages repeated viewing, inviting you to rewatch key scenes and reinforce your understanding of the language. Moreover, the memorable nature of crime thrillers ensures that you not only remember the vocabulary but also associate it with the plot, making retention easier.

In today’s blog, we will discuss five shocking, impactful, and unforgettable Spanish crime thriller movies and series that every Spanish learner should watch right now. These titles  will not only keep you on the edge of your seat but also provide a rich and immersive language-learning experience.

Are you ready?

1.  El Caso Asunta / The Asunta Case (2024, Netflix)

On September 21, 2013, Rosario Porto and Alfonso Basterra reported their daughter Asunta missing. Just hours later, her body was found by a roadside near Santiago de Compostela. The ensuing police investigation quickly uncovered evidence pointing to Rosario and Alfonso as the prime suspects. The shocking revelation stunned the entire city and even the country. What could drive parents to such a horrific act? What secrets lay behind the facade of a seemingly perfect family?

The miniseries “El caso Asunta” unfolds over six episodes, weaving together two distinct timelines: the events leading up to Asunta’s death and the subsequent investigation and trial. Even if viewers have an idea of the outcome (which we won’t spoil here), the series’ compelling narrative ensures that they remain captivated throughout.

From a linguistic perspective, “El caso Asunta” is equally fascinating. The show is predominantly in Spanish, but since it takes place in Galicia, there are moments where characters speak in the Galician dialect. This is a rare feature in television, offering viewers a unique glimpse into the region’s linguistic diversity. Additionally, the Galician Spanish accent stands out distinctly from the one spoken in Madrid, particularly in terms of intonation. This unique aspect of the show has even sparked conversations online, with many viewers finding themselves mimicking the main characters’ distinctive speech patterns after watching the series (not to mention lots of inquiries about our !).

2.  Los renglones torcidos de Dios / God’s Crooked Lines (2022, Netflix)

“Los renglones torcidos de Dios” is a captivating Spanish thriller that takes viewers deep into the twisted world of mental asylums and criminal investigations. Based on the renowned novel by Torcuato Luca de Tena, the story revolves around Alice Gould, a private investigator who voluntarily commits herself to a psychiatric hospital to uncover the truth behind a suspicious death. As she navigates the eerie corridors and interacts with the enigmatic patients and staff, Alice’s own sanity is put to the test, blurring the lines between reality and madness.

“God’s Crooked Lines” has everything we love about Spanish crime thrillers: a puzzle-like narrative where the thin line between truth and lies takes on special significance, revealing flashbacks, and plot twists that change everything you think you knew up to the very last scene. If you enjoy movies that leave you questioning what really happened, this one is for you!

But, of course, one cannot talk about this film without mentioning its star, Bárbara Lennie, a masterful actress who will leave you completely amazed with her performance; honestly, she alone makes the movie deserving of five stars! Born in Madrid, Lennie spent some time in Buenos Aires before returning to Spain, where she graduated in Drama from the Royal School of Dramatic Art. Thanks to her eclectic background, she not only possesses one of the most exquisite diction in Spanish cinema but is also known for her expertise in accents. Here, she plays an educated woman from the 1970s, giving her a slow, clear Madrid accent, perfect for students looking for a Spanish language model to help them shape their pronunciation.

A TV screen showing the Netflix logo.

3.   Dolores: La verdad sobre el caso Wanninkhof / Dolores: The Truth About the Wanninkhof Case (2021, HBO Max)

“Dolores: La verdad sobre el caso Wanninkhof” is a gripping documentary series that delves into one of Spain’s most notorious and controversial criminal cases. The story begins in 1999 when Rocío Wanninkhof, a 19-year-old girl, is brutally murdered in Mijas, Málaga. The investigation takes a shocking turn when Dolores Vázquez, a close family friend, is accused and convicted of the crime based on circumstantial evidence and public opinion, rather than solid proof.

The series meticulously reconstructs the events leading up to Rocío’s murder, the flawed investigation, and the media frenzy that ultimately led to Dolores’ wrongful conviction. It also covers the later discovery of the true murderer, shedding light on the tragic consequences of judicial and societal biases. The documentary provides an in-depth look at the Spanish legal system, the role of the media in shaping public perception, and the personal toll of a miscarriage of justice.

When it comes to language, “Dolores: La verdad sobre el caso Wanninkhof” offers an invaluable resource for Spanish learners. The documentary format features a variety of speakers, including legal experts, journalists, and family members, each contributing their unique regional accents and styles of speech. This diversity helps viewers attune their ears to different Spanish dialects and improves their listening comprehension. Additionally, the emotionally charged interviews and courtroom dialogues present a rich tapestry of legal and colloquial vocabulary, making it a compelling and educational watch for anyone seeking to enhance their Spanish language skills.

4.  Muerte en León (2016, HBO Max)

“Muerte en León” is a gripping Spanish crime documentary series that investigates the high-profile murder of Isabel Carrasco, the president of the Provincial Council of León. On a bright day in May 2014, Carrasco was shot dead on a pedestrian bridge over the Bernesga River in the heart of León. The investigation quickly led to the arrests of Montserrat González, her daughter Triana Martínez, and Raquel Gago, a local police officer and friend of Triana. All three were tried and convicted, albeit to varying degrees, for Carrasco’s murder. Currently, their sentences await the final decision of the Supreme Court.

Directed by Justin Webster, “Muerte en León” unfolds over four episodes, blending investigative journalism with real-life thriller elements. The series dives deep into the lives of these four women, forever altered by the fateful events of that afternoon. However, it is not merely the story of a crime; it also exposes the power struggles, political corruption, nepotism, police deceptions, and judicial constraints that lie beneath the surface of this case.

From a linguistic perspective, “Muerte en León” provides a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in the Spanish spoken in León. Located in the northwest of Spain, León has a distinct accent that differs from the more familiar Castilian Spanish of Madrid. The Leonese accent is characterised by a clear, precise pronunciation with a slightly softer intonation, making it relatively easy to understand for Spanish learners. Watching this series allows viewers to tune their ears to regional speech patterns and nuances, enhancing their overall comprehension and appreciation of the Spanish language.

5.   Los ojos de Julia / Julia’s Eyes (2010, Amazon Prime)

“Los ojos de Julia” is a thrilling Spanish horror-crime film that combines psychological suspense with an intense narrative. The story follows Julia, a woman suffering from a degenerative eye condition, as she investigates the mysterious death of her twin sister, Sara. Despite the official ruling of suicide, Julia suspects foul play and embarks on a quest to uncover the truth. As her vision deteriorates, she finds herself in a race against time, facing unseen threats and uncovering dark secrets that put her own life in jeopardy.

Directed by Guillem Morales and produced by Guillermo del Toro, “Los ojos de Julia” masterfully blends elements of horror and crime thriller genres. The film’s tense atmosphere, chilling visuals, and unexpected plot twists keep viewers on the edge of their seats. Belén Rueda delivers a powerful performance as Julia, bringing depth and emotional intensity to the character’s struggle against both physical and psychological terror.

“Julia’s Eyes” is a great example of how the best Spanish crime thriller movies can provide exposure to the Spanish language while giving you the best (albeit anxiety-inducing) of times. One of the most gripping aspects of the film is the scenes where Julia is stalked by a man she cannot see. These moments are incredibly thrilling and showcase the film’s ability to induce anxiety and suspense. As Julia’s vision worsens, the tension escalates, making viewers feel her vulnerability and fear.

Located primarily in the region of Catalonia, “Los ojos de Julia” also introduces viewers to the Catalan accent, which differs notably from Castilian Spanish. Plus, since the film relies heavily on tension and atmosphere rather than constant dialogue, it is an excellent choice for Spanish learners at a beginner to intermediate level. The visual storytelling and intense scenes allow viewers to grasp the plot without needing to understand every word spoken. This makes it easier for language learners to follow along and improve their comprehension skills while still enjoying a thrilling and engaging film.

Beyond Spanish Crime Thrillers: Learn Spanish Now

Watching the best Spanish crime thriller movies and TV shows can be an incredibly effective and enjoyable way to enhance your language skills. These films and series provide immersive experiences, exposing you to authentic dialogue, diverse accents, and cultural nuances. However, to maximise your learning, it’s beneficial to complement this method with private sessions with native teachers.

Private lessons with native Spanish teachers or Galician language instructors offer a personalised approach to learning that perfectly complements the insights gained from watching crime thrillers. In a one-to-one setting, you can practice speaking and listening in real-time, receive immediate feedback, and have your specific questions answered. This focused interaction helps reinforce what you’ve learned from the media, solidifying vocabulary, improving pronunciation, and boosting overall confidence in using the language.

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At Language Trainers, we offer tailored lessons with experienced native teachers who can help you reach your language goals. Our instructors understand the intricacies of the language and can provide the structured guidance you need to advance your skills. By combining the gripping narratives of Spanish crime thrillers with the expertise of our teachers, you’ll find yourself progressing faster and more effectively.

Start your language learning journey with Language Trainers today and experience the perfect blend of engaging content and professional instruction. Contact Language Trainers now so we can arrange an in-person Spanish course in Toronto, Ontario, or wherever you happen to live!