The Chilling, Mysterious Death Of Elisa Lam Is The Focus Of A New Netflix Documentary

The infamous surveillance video of Elisa before her death has millions of views online

While streaming services have kept their catalogue filled to the brim with royal family dramas and Crazy, Rich Asians-inspired reality TV—hello, Bridgertonbinge-watchers have been left dry on the documentary front. But alas, Netflix hasn’t forgotten about us.

Enter: Crime Scene: The Vanishing At The Cecil Hotel.

For those of us who consider themselves to be serious true-crime buffs, the chill-inducing and mysterious disappearance of student Elisa Lam is surely on your radar. The upcoming docuseries is set to take a deep dive into the exceptionally unsettling 2013 case, following the tourist who was tragically found dead in a Los Angeles hotel after she vanished into thin air for multiple weeks.

And while it may seem like a story you’ve heard before, conspiracy theories and facts that simply don’t add up, have made this case one of the most talked about since its inception almost eight years ago.

Intrigued? Keep reading for everything you need to know about the documentary series—from the plot and true story to where you can stream it in Australia.

What Is The Plot Of Crime Scene: The Vanishing At The Cecil Hotel?

Crime Scene: The Vanishing At The Cecil Hotel chronicles the offers a deep-dive into the extremely bizarre and undoubtedly eerie case of Elisa Lam, whose footage of her last moments went viral online.

The four-part series will look into the eerie disappearance of Elisa Lam, a Canadian student, who was staying at the Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Reported missing on January 31, 2013, the LAPD released a video of Lam exhibiting incredibly odd behaviour in an elevator of the hotel which spread like wildfire.

Directed and produced by true crime extraordinaire Joe Berlinger, the man behind Netflix’s hit series Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, the docuseries will explore potential reasoning behind Lam’s final moments and is set to deconstruct the mythology and mystery surrounding the infamous crime.

“As a true crime documentarian, I was fascinated in 2013 when the elevator video of Elisa Lam went viral and legions of amateur detectives used the internet to try to solve the mystery of what happened to her, a 21-year-old Canadian tourist on her first trip to Los Angeles,” said Berlinger.

“So, when journalist Josh Dean, who is also a producer on the project, brought us his research into this case, we realised there was as an opportunity to do something different by not just telling the story of Elisa’s disappearance, but to create a series that explores a particular location’s role in encouraging or abetting crime—or the perception thereof.”

What Is The True Story Behind Crime Scene: The Vanishing At The Cecil Hotel?

Taking place back in 2013, Elisa Lam, a 21-year-old Canadian student, arrived alone at the Cecil Hotel located in Downtown Los Angeles. For reasons unknown, Lam chose to stay in a hotel that has a history of housing notorious serial killers, such as the Night Stalker himself, Richard Ramirez.

Vanishing into thin air, Lam notably left behind all of her possessions, including her wallet and identification. Tragically, weeks after her disappearance, her body was found in a water tank on the hotel’s roof, after guests began to complain of black-tinted water and low pressure coming from their bathrooms.

Almost eight years since the LAPD released the last-known CCTV footage of Elisa—which continues to rack up millions of views online—true crime fans have begun to question the reasoning behind her odd behaviour and how the 21-year-old was able to access the staff-only water tanks, climb in on her own and close the door behind her. 

The video shows Lam acting incredibly erratic—including footage of her seemingly playing hide-and-seek with herself—with said clips leading to endless online conspiracy theories about alien abduction, human trafficking and haunted hotels, to name a few. 

Don’t believe us? Check out the surveillance footage below to see for yourself.

And while her death was determined to be an accidental drowning, with Lam’s diagnosed bipolar disorder cited as a factor, many self-appointed internet detectives continue to question the extremely suspicious circumstances around her death to this day.

This isn’t the first time Lam’s story has been featured onscreen, unlike previous documentaries on the case, Berlinger’s project will dive into the history of the Cecil Hotel itself, including its humble origins and unfortunate notoriety.

Elisa Lam
(Credit: Netflix)

Where Can We Watch Crime Scene: The Vanishing At The Cecil Hotel In Australia?

Hooked? Crime Scene: The Vanishing At The Cecil Hotel will be available to stream on Netflix on February 10, 2021.

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