“The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel” review



A scene from “Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel.” (Netflix) Photo provided by mctcampus.com

Adriana Rodriguez, Echo Editor-In-Chief

On Feb. 11, Netflix released “Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel,” a four episode series introducing the mysterious death of Elisa Lam. There are many speculations as to what truly happened to Lam, so the show attempts to find the most plausible answers.


Anyone that knows me knows I love watching true crime documentaries. You name it — I have probably already seen it. So when I found out Netflix was releasing a series on Elisa Lam, I was extremely curious. I remember hearing about the case a few years ago and feeling just as bewildered as the thousands of others baffled by the case. 


What’s so unsettling about Lam’s case is the elevator surveillance video capturing her last moments seen alive. She seemed confused, discombobulated and almost animated as if she had been speaking to someone in the hallway. She made strange movements, backing herself into a corner and frantically pushing the buttons; yet, the elevator did not move. The biggest question raised is how she ended up on the hotel’s roof in the water tank. The series raises multiple theories, blaming her mental state, hotel employees and the homeless population of Los Angeles, “Skid Row.”


I think many interesting elements were dispersed throughout the story. I think the narrator that was included for Lam and her social media posts helped illustrate her personality. Her thoughts and ideas during that period came to life and made her feel more real. I also thought the addition of an English couple who traveled to the Cecil Hotel while Lam stayed there helped create suspense as the true nature of the historic hotel was revealed.


The series was lacking in some areas, though. I felt like the episodes got repetitive after the second one. A lot of the content was stretched out which at times made the plot seem very stale. I also wish Lam’s family was interviewed, as I feel she deserved advocates other than strangers around the world, however, many factors probably went into their absence.


Although the series was not perfectly done, I would definitely recommend giving this series a try if you like true crime or are looking for a new documentary to watch. Keep an eye out for any new true crime documentaries as Netflix releases them often.