Netflix’s New Docuseries Explores the Sinister Death of Elisa Lam


The true-crime genre has well and truly reach saturation point—but I’m making an exception for this new docuseries from Netflix.

Titled Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel, the four-part series might not ring any bells immediately, but 51 seconds into its new trailer above, your neck hairs will be a-prickling with the memory the viral elevator video.

The series takes place at the infamous Cecil Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles, a sinister location that’s been the scene of the crime for untimely deaths and housed serial killers like Richard Ramirez, known as the Night Stalker. ‘This was a place where serial killers let their hair down,’ the trailer recounts, ‘like Richard Ramirez, who would come back covered in blood, and no one’s got a problem with that.’

While the new series will take a look at the dark history of the hotel, it will train its gaze on one of the spookiest unsolved crimes in the hotel’s history: the death of Lisa Lam.

Anyone who’s used the internet in the past decade has more than likely come across the eerie video of young Canadian student Elisa Lam, whose strange final moments were captured on the hotel’s CCTV footage and dissected by millions of internet sleuths across the world (28 million views on YouTube and counting).

Her erratic behaviour sparked theories of supernatural interference, a psychotic episode (Lam was taking medication for bipolar disorder), a pursuer out of view of CCTV cameras, and even evidence tampering with time codes on the surveillance footage.

When guests began to complain about the taste and colour of the drinking water in the weeks after her disappearance, a search of the hotel’s rooftop water tanks found Lam’s body in the water with her belongings floating nearby. Jesus. To date, the cause of her death is still unknown, with the Los Angeles County Coroner ruling her death accidental due to drowning. I’m not sold.

Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel is out on Netflix February 10.

Sign up for the Monster Children Newsletter