Documentary Review: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel

By Nicole Arno


The Cecil Hotel needs no introduction; from the viral spooky lift video to the talk of the town, Netflix has really outdone themselves this time!


Based in Los Angeles along the dilapidated streets of Skid Row, this documentary takes you through various stories of the questionable figures who have previously stayed at the hotel. From tourists, to serial killers, and individuals who required cheap housing, there is no singular target audience for the hotel. In this case, this was a recipe for disaster...


Elisa Lam, who is the main focus of the documentary due to her disappearance, fell under the tourist category. The viral video of her strange behaviour in the lift led to the question of how she fell victim to the hotel which has caused so many people grief. Was her strange behaviour due to paranormal activity, was she another victim to crime due to the many murderous guests, or was she the prey of the many drug-dealers luring in young girls? Throughout the documentary, you find yourself questioning these many possibilities.


This is the best quality of the documentary- rather than claiming that the hotel is haunted, as many other documentaries do, you are led down various paths of possibility, until you reach the final answer. What happened to Elisa Lam?






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