Why everyone is talking about The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel

The latest Netflix true-crime documentary that everyone is obsessed with, examines the chilling death of Elisa Lam. Its release sparked countless conspiracy theories with viewers questioning what really happened at the Cecil Hotel. Here is a rundown of everything we know about this creepy mystery.

There is nothing better than binge-watching a new Netflix crime documentary, especially during a lockdown. So when Netflix released ‘The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel’ it gripped everyone. Questions about the disappearance of Elisa Lam flooded Instagram and Twitter and people all over the world became obsessed with finding out the truth.

Who was Elisa Lam?

Elisa Lam was a 21-year-old Canadian student who travelled solo across the US. In January 2013 she visited downtown LA and stayed at the eerie Cecil Hotel where she was last seen alive, after failing to check out of her room on February 1st, 2013.

During the police investigation, CCTV footage of Lam inside the hotel lift was released. This video, which went viral, was unusual as her movements were strange and she seemed as if she was talking to someone. This video is the last time anyone saw Elisa before she vanished.

Elisa Lam’s body was found in a water tank, on the hotel’s roof, 19 days after she first went missing.

Elisa Lam

The Cecil Hotel’s history

The Cecil Hotel wasn’t any ordinary hotel, it had a murky past. Its history includes numerous suicides and murders. In the documentary, former manager Amy price claimed for the 10 years she worked there she saw around 80 deaths. The hotel also housed several high-profile serial killers for some time including Richard Ramirez and Jack Unterweger. Around the time Elisa Lam stayed, the hotel had tried to reinvent itself as a popular location for young people who were travelling. However, after her unexplained disappearance, the hotel’s past crept back.

What are the theories around the disappearance of Elisa Lam?

She was murdered

Some people believe Elisa Lam was murdered due to the unusual CCTV footage in the lift. Elisa’s body was found naked which adds to the suspicions of violence. This theory is also supported as the lid on the water tank was closed, something which Elisa would have struggled with if she had climbed in herself. However, in the documentary, the maintenance worker who found Elisa claimed he had shut the lid after the discovery of her body.

She died as a result of suicide

In the documentary, we find out Elisa suffered from various mental health disorders such as Bipolar disorder and depression. When police searched through her Tumblr blog for clues they came across several posts referencing her struggles with mental health. This led to several people believing Elisa may have purposely harmed herself in the hotel. However, this theory was quickly dissolved as the coroner stated after a full review of circumstances this suggestion was not supported.

Someone from the hotel was involved

Many conspirators believed the viral video of Elisa had been edited and tampered with. The timestamp on the video is blurred and there are many claims that the video jumps forward a few seconds when the elevator door closes. Others suggest the video had been slowed down to edit parts out. This leaves us questioning: why would someone need to tamper with the video? And if so, who tampered with it? From this, the idea of someone from the hotel being involved in Elisa’s disappearance seemed logical. People believed the identity of the killer was visible in the footage so this was edited out to cover-up. However, in the documentary, all allegations of any cover-up were denied.

Dark Water

Some people are majorly creeped out by the fact that Elisa Lam’s death has a very similar plot to the Japanese horror film Dark Water which was released a year before Elisa went missing. The film tells the story of a mother and daughter who move into a new apartment to find dark, murky water coming from the taps and a suspicious leak. This leads to them finding the body of a young girl in a water tank on top of an apartment block, similar to the discovery of Elisa’s body. Before Elisa’s body was found, guests had reportedly complained about the low water pressure in the hotel and strange tasting, discoloured water. This led to online investigators believing that someone was deliberately recreating the Dark Water plot in real life however it could just be a big coincidence.

The water tank where Elisa Lam’s body was discovered

Elisa was a test study for tuberculosis

Around the time Elisa went missing there was a tuberculosis outbreak in LA, specifially in Skid Row which is not far from the Cecil hotel. In the documentary, it is revealed that some people believe Elisa was a test subject for a test which diagnoses the disease. This test was named LAM-ELISA, a very weird coincidence as it is literally her name backwards! Theorists claim Elisa was a biological weapon used by scientists to remove some of the homeless population. When Elisa was found to be a student at the University of British Columbia it was pointed out that this university has a big research centre for tuberculosis, adding to the theory.

Watch the full documentary on Netflixhttps://www.netflix.com/title/81183727

By Charlotte Brooks