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Crime Scene: The Vanishing At The Cecil Hotel review

Show: Crime Scene: The Vanishing At The Cecil Hotel

Director: Joe Berlinger

Where to watch: Netflix

Crime Scene: The Vanishing At The Cecil Hotel focuses on the story of Elisa Lam who mysteriously went missing while staying at the Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. The show features her back story and talks about the history and future of Cecil hotel.

Crime Scene: The Vanishing At The Cecil Hotel review
  • By Shaheen | OTTPlay

Last Updated: 06.12 AM, Sep 21, 2022


Four episodes and an hour-long journey, Crime Scene: The Vanishing At The Cecil Hotel raises various questions right from the word go.

The Netflix series talks about the mysterious disappearance of Elisa Lam, a Canadian student keen to explore an uninhibited world contrary to the one her traditional Cantonese family allowed her.

An ardent Tumblr user, Lam left many clues for people to follow. A video released by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) took social media by storm.

People familiar with her story, know that she died under mysterious circumstances, having disappeared for nearly a month. The two police officers working on the case spilled learnt that she never left the hotel. Their initial findings in the case and interviews with Netflix revealed that the hotel was homeground for crime since years.

The series follows the events of Lam's disappearance and how she was eventually found dead in a water tank placed at the rooftop of the Cecil hotel, under unimaginable circumstances. Her mortal remains came to be noticed only after a couple living in the Cecil hotel complained of the colour of water being a bit muddy. The following interview conducted by Netflix is sure to make you tummy churn, especially after the couple revealed that it was the same water that they were served for drinking and bathing purposes as well.

The four seasons delve into various aspects of Lam's story and a series of unlikely co-incidences and loopholes that keep us from getting to the bottom of exact truth.

The Cecil Hotel had a reputation of various criminal activities. In fact, the hotel is based in downtown LA's Skid Row, largely occupied by homeless, many of whom have done their time for various crimes.

Things take an unexpected turn when a death metal singer's horrific video co-incides with the events pertaining to Lam's disappearance, making him a prime suspect in the case. He was also interviewed in the series, and his viewpoint was also noted, giving him a fresh opportunity to present his case.

Various people have also found the story of Lam's death resembling the movie Dark Water. Noted similarities between Lam and the character in Dark Water include their particular fashion choices.

To make matters even more muddled, Lam happened to visit 'The Last Bookstore', whose location on Google Maps happens to be directly pointed towards Lam's cemetery in Canada and not in LA where she visited the bookstore.

The series leaves people with many questions - What exactly happened to Lam? How her absence go unnoticed for so long? How did she end up in a water tank all by herself?

Other questions that people have raised are - Were there supernatural elements at work? Was she being followed? Was her bipolar disorder acting up?

In short, the series folds on an open-ended note - allowing one to believe what they wanted. However, a judgement on the case has been passed.

The story also focuses on Cecil Hotel - which is at the root of Lam's disappearance and death. It has been at the centre of many crimes - deaths by poison, gunshots, overdoze, suicide by jumping off the roof, rape and stabbing, among others. The hotel has also been a hiding place for criminals in the past. With 700 rooms and affordable rentals in a notorious area, there is little possibility of not hearing about another incident at the infamous hotel.

Although the series answers a few important questions like what happens to the hotel now, the bigger question still remains - is Skid Row still the hub of nefarious activities as it's made out to be?

Verdict: Crime Scene: The Vanishing At The Cecil Hotel makes you think and worry. It piques your interest early on, so much that you will definitely go back and turn over all evidence presented in the series.