One of the most famous unsolved deaths of the past decade is that of Elisa Lam, the Canadian student whose body was discovered in the water supply of Los Angeles' Cecil Hotel, with the upcoming Netflix documentary series Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel bringing all-new insight into the situation. Lam's death in 2013 came at a time when true-crime experts would dive deep into social media in hopes of connecting with one another and discovering clues, which sometimes brought promising leads and other times resulted in misleading conclusions. You can check out the trailer for the four-part series above before it premieres on Netflix on February 10th.
From director Joe Berlinger (Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, Paradise Lost), Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel is the first season in a new documentary series that deconstructs the mythology and mystery surrounding infamous locations in contemporary crime. For nearly a century the Cecil Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles has been linked to some of the city’s most notorious activity, from untimely deaths to housing serial killers. In 2013 college student Elisa Lam was staying at the Cecil when she vanished, igniting a media frenzy and mobilizing a global community of internet sleuths eager to solve the case. Lam’s disappearance, the latest chapter in the hotel’s complex history, offers a chilling and captivating lens into one of LA’s most nefarious settings.
While Berlinger has dabbled in narrative storytelling, he is most known for true crime documentaries such as Brother's Keeper and the trilogy of Paradise Lost films, which explored the West Memphis Three and their wrongful incarceration.
“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,” Berlinger shared in a statement. “So, when journalist Josh Dean, who is also a producer on the project, brought us his research into this case, we realized 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.”
He continued, "My past projects have leaned into individual crimes and criminals, but I have never explored the role a particular location has played in creating an environment in which multiple crimes seemingly take place over and over again. The fact that Elisa disappeared in a location that has a multi-decade history of crimes is what made her case fascinating to me.”
Check out Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel when it debuts on Netflix on February 10th.
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