“Cecil Hotel” docuseries is overdramatic

Lately, Netflix has been blowing up with their original docuseries, such as “Jeffery Epstein: Filthy Rich,” “Don’t F**k With Cats” and most recent, “Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel.” Just an hour away from Newbury Park, the Cecil Hotel, also known as the Death Hotel, on Skid Row is known for its insane amount of 911 calls and a total of 17 recorded deaths, though workers say they have witnessed over 80 deaths. However, the most famous incident was the case of Elisa Lam, a Canadian tourist, who went missing and was last seen in a shocking video of the hotel’s elevator. 

In the first episode of the docuseries, a lot of the time was dedicated to building up Lam’s story; how she came from Canada and her life as a blogger. I tended to zone out as the story rolled out very slowly, explaining how she planned out her trip to downtown LA and was an inexperienced traveler who went missing. Then came the video. The video of Lam acting bizarre in the elevator, the last video the police had of her raised suspicion all over the world. The blurry, supposedly edited, eight minutes of Lam acting panicky as if she was hallucinating went viral on Facebook, leading to investigation.

What interested me more about the Cecil Hotel was the staunch amount of violence and deaths occurring in the hotel, ranging from suicides, overdoses and even the housing of Richard Ramirez, the “Night Stalker,” where he allegedly “felt at home.” The history of the hotel is so shocking, I was surprised that it was not as well known before Lam arrived. Despite the staff’s attempt to make the hotel more trendy, they were unable to hide its lurking haunted element.

Although the documentary dramatizes and draws out Lam’s story to an unnecessary extent, Lam’s case is truly a rollercoaster on its own. Many “mysteries” that investigators struggled to solve were just common sense. The investigation into how she got onto the roof was simple, she went up one of the two stairwells. However, YouTuber investigators dragged this out by sneaking around the hotel and filming for content.

The last episode of the season left me with so many unanswered questions. No other major pieces of evidence were beside Lam’s body in the rooftop water tank. There were no signs of abuse; she was found naked with the tank lid closed, and many investigators assumed it could have been suicide due to her history of bipolar syndrome. All kinds of random connections were made to her story including an old movie, potential government missions, hauntings and a tuberculosis outbreak, which ultimately left me questioning the credibility of these conspiracies. There is no solid answer to her case.

 A hotel with hundreds of horror stories, a haunting last video and the discovery of a body in a water tank can catch anyone’s eye without having to over-dramatize the story. The most shocking part was that I never have even heard about the Cecil Hotel until Netflix released this series. If you want to know more about the Cecil Hotel, I would definitely recommend watching this series and taking it with a grain of salt, as theatrics play a large, unnecessary influence on the story.

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