Hotel Cecil: The Mystery of the Disappearance of Emily Lam


By Marija Kraljevic, Arts and Entertainment and Photo Editor

Directed by Joe Berlinger, the new Netflix original docu-series, “Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel”, released on Feb 10. goes in-depth about the disappearance of Canadian native Elisa Lam and the notorious and creepy history of the hotel.

The documentary consists of 4 episodes each reaching about 51 minutes to an hour-long. The effects, drama, conspiracies, and interviews conducted with people involved in the search of Elisa Lam back in 2013 and workers of the Cecil Hotel create an amazing series that will keep you up at night wondering what kind of people lurk within the shadows.

The series starts off by explaining the Cecil Hotel as a place of terror and danger as it’s located in downtown Los Angeles in the more corrupt area of the city. A description of the area and conditions of the hotel give the viewer a better sense of the environment that surrounds the hotel and why the awful things that happen there, happen. The Cecil Hotel is less than a mile away from Skid Row; moreover, Skid Row consists of the highest crime rates in Los Angeles with homeless people living along the streets with no place to go.

The story of Elisa Lam unfolds after the description of the haunted hotel is given. Elisa Lam was a 21-year-old Canadian who studied at the University of British Colombia and lived in Vancouver with her family. She traveled to Los Angeles in late Jan 2013 and stayed at the Cecil Hotel on Main street. All was well until she stopped keeping in touch with her family on the final day of her trip and was never seen leaving the hotel. The mystery of where she could be frightened her family as well as the LAPD as they wondered, where did she go and is she safe?

The disappearance of Elisa Lam and her death at the hotel leave people around the world lost and in search of an answer. With Tumblr accounts, Facebook fan pages, and Youtubers looking for any possible reasoning behind what happened to Lam, it evidently leads to a crazy spew of conspiracy theories and numerous dead ends.

“Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel” is definitely worth the watch if you are into short and thrilling documentaries that are full of crime and mystery. Some of the reenactments of internet investigators staring at different computer screens feel silly, and it’s a bit sad that the series doesn’t really get to know Lam. There were no interviews whatsoever about the people who truly did know her, such as her family and friends.

The interview between the people would’ve given a better insight into who Lam was and why the things that happened to her occurred. It’s the story of someone that hundreds of people spent their days and nights trying to find and save, and then trying to bring justice to after her body was found, but none of them really knew who she was.

Overall, I would give this docu-series a 8.5/10 for its authenticity and the way the director properly showcases the story of Elisa Lam as it unfolds bit by bit with each episode.