New Netflix Cecil Hotel Documentary Explores The Baffling Case Of Elisa Lam

February 09, 2021 1:00 AM ‐ TelevisionParanormalNetflixDocumentaries

This article is more than three years old.

The Cecil Hotel
Photo: © Netflix
A new Netflix true-crime documentary explores the mysterious disappearance and subsequent death of Elisa Lam during her stay at the sinister Cecil Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles.

'Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel' lands on Netflix on Wednesday, February 10 and marks the start of a new documentary series that deconstructs the mythology and mystery surrounding infamous locations in contemporary crime.

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.

Netflix's take on the story is less about the paranormal claims connected to the building and the death of Elisa Lam and instead explores the more rational explanations rooted in true crime. The documentary is directed by Joe Berlinger, who previously produced 'Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes' and 'Paradise Lost' for the streaming platform.

For nearly a century the Cecil Hotel has been linked to some of the city's most notorious activity, with connections to the infamous serial killer Richard Ramirez, and untimely deaths, including the murder of actress Elizabeth Short. Plus it has seen more than its fair share of suicides and violence.

The hotel is even the inspiration for 'American Horror Story: Hotel', but it's perhaps best-known for the vanishing of Elisa Lam. The 21-year-old student was staying at the Cecil in 2013 when she disappeared, igniting a media frenzy and mobilising a global community of internet sleuths eager to solve the case. Her body was later found sealed in a water tank on the roof of the building. This gave rise to more questions than answers - many of which have never been satisfactorily addressed.

Unsettling CCTV footage released by police showing Elisa's last few minutes in the hotel has lead some to the conclusion that dark supernatural forces were at work in the hotel. The footage from the security camera in the hotel's elevator shows Elisa acting very strangely in the time leading up to her death.

'Crime Scene' is likely to take a more balanced look at the case and scrape away some of the myths to reveal what really happened in the darkest chapter of the hotel's complex history.

'Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel' streams from Wednesday, February 10 exclusively on Netflix.

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