On February 10th, Netflix is premiering a fresh new true crime docuseries that will have viewers on the edge of their seats. Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel follows the disturbing and deeply mysterious case of Elisa Lam, which has become an internet sensation over the past decade.
Elisa Lam—also known in Cantonese as Lam Ho Yi—was found dead on February 19th, 2013. Her body was recovered from the water tank on top of Downtown Los Angeles's Cecil Hotel, after a series of complaints from hotel guests about the quality of the water in their rooms. Elisa was found naked, yet with no signs of physical trauma. And if those circumstances weren't suspicious enough, a hair-raising video was released that showed Elisa on the day of her disappearance, interacting mischievously with what appeared to be a malfunctioning elevator. The police called it an accidental death. Others believe murder or involvement with the paranormal. But what's the truth?
The four-part Netflix series—executive produced and directed by Joe Berlinger—aims to unravel the facts behind the unsettling events behind the disappearance and death of the Canadian college student. A tourist, she was staying at the Cecil Hotel at the time of her disappearance, leaving her wallet and ID behind in her room. Upon news of her disappearance, the media went into a frenzy—further exacerbated by the release of the suspicious hotel footage. A group of internet detectives mobilized to try and crack the case. These internet sleuths—along with hotel staff and guests—are interviewed in the documentary.
Though Elisa Lam's case quickly went viral, that is not the only issue that this docuseries addresses. Berlinger has stated that it's also important to him that this series be viewed as an investigation into the location of the crime, and how such a place has encouraged or otherwise abetted crime—or at least how it can be perceived to. As the history of the Cecil Hotel unfolds on screen, viewers are treated to both its humble origins and its notoriety for untimely deaths and as a convenient pit stop for notable serial killers.
But Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel is merely the first season in what is set up to be a recurring series. In future seasons, Berlinger hopes to explore a variety of locations like the hotel—locations with notable cases interspersed with an investigation into the social and criminal history of the area.
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Whether Elisa's death is a result of horrifying otherworldly intervention or a disturbing multi-decade trend of violence, her tragic end is an undeniably gripping story. Don't miss the documentary when Netflix releases it on February 10th. In the meantime, watch the official trailer below.
Featured still from "Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel" via Netflix