Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel Review
There was one big issue with this docu-series that annoyed me throughout, and that was the YouTubers.
The Cecil Hotel was a crime scene for an infamous case that happened in 2013 but had many other instances at it before then, including a place of rest for The Night Stalker during his years of murders and many cases of drug abuse and harassment.
But the Cecil Hotel became infamous when a young tourist called Elisa Lam went missing. Elisa was from Vancouver and she was travelling around America and had come to LA as part of her travels, she also had bipolar disorder which is something that before watching this series I didn’t know.
But one day Elisa goes missing and a troubling video of her doing unexplainable things in a lift surfaces. It takes a few days but finally her body is found in one of the water tanks on the top of the building, this is where the people who are staying at the hotel would get their water from meaning that for 19 days they were drinking water contaminated by a dead body.
Because of the unusual way that she died and the lift video a lot of theories and conspiracies sprung up about what happened to her, who could’ve killed her, was she even killed to begin with and how did she end up in this water tank.
And this was the main issue I had with this docu-series was it spent far too much time on these people who were just conspiracy theorists who used their platforms on YouTube to spread about their thoughts. In some ways I see these people as chance takers, people who see something that is trending and is popular and know that they can get their own popularity from it by talking about it. Yes some of these people clearly cared about Elisa but to me it comes across that not all of them did, and even when the case was wrapped up and the reasoning behind her death was found due to a lot of evidence these people still don’t believe it which I think shows that they care more about their own gain rather than Elisa.
These people don’t care about Elisa. They care about being able to solve this mystery and find out all the answers, and even when they’re given an answer that fits together with the evidence at hand they are still not happy about it because it is not their answer. It is not what they believe. They do not care about this family who have lost a person far too young. They do not care about the evidence, they care about their own ideology and that’s just wrong in my eyes.
Elisa Lam’s death was sensationalised in such a way that made her no longer a human being, it made her this person, this body that was asking to be solved. It became Cluedo in all honesty. Do you think the family wanted to see these conspiracy theories being made up about her? Probably not. Do you think they just wanted justice for their daughter and when they finally got the answer that seemed the most reasonable and rational, do you think they appreciated all these people still going on about her all these years later? I honestly doubt it. The way that some of these YouTubers acted as if they were friends of Elisa despite never meeting her I find sick. You do not know this girl and you should not be profiting off of her death by pretending to be her friend, you are not a friend, you are a leech.
In the end it was ruled that Elisa died by accidental drowning through a psychotic episode by being off of her medication that she was taking. From the facts that were given to us in the final episode and the people that we spoke to in that episode they seemed to make a lot of sense. She was acting irrationally in the lift video as we saw, she was making other people complain to the hotel because of how she was acting, and when they discovered the body it was known that the hatch was open meaning that no one closed it behind them after murdering her.
Bring it back round to YouTubers again, they still do not want to believe this fact because the police said that the hatch was closed. Now if it was me and I was that worker on a minimum wage job and I have gone up to fix a water tank that was spewing out dirty water and I discovered a body in it, do you not think that I would also close it because I’d be in shock at what I found? I’d want to hide it away and not look at it, because when you find such a gruesome thing you don’t think logically, you don’t think ‘okay this is a crime scene’ you think ‘oh my God what have I found? I don’t want to look at that’ *closes hatch*. It makes complete sense to me and made sense as to why the hatch was open because Elisa fell into there herself and because the water was low she was unable to close it/escape.
The other part that frustrated me with this series was seeing the YouTuber who does death metal sort of music being made a prime suspect by other YouTubers just because of how he presents himself. This man enjoys death metal, he enjoys darker things like crime stories which to be fair isn’t too far away from the other YouTubers really, and makes music using these different elements of crime and murder and Satanism etc. This does not make him a Satanist, this makes him a creative man who has different views on life than you do and just because he is into this stuff doesn’t make him bad.
But because he stayed in the Cecil Hotel before Elisa even turned up he was painted as the prime suspect for this whole case. He lost his YouTube channel, he lost all his social media, he lost his creative enjoyment of making music because a bunch of nobodies online decided to paint him as a murderer with no evidence. That’s the big thing here with the YouTuber side, there is no evidence to what they are believing in and so I do not get why they will not take the evidence that they do have with it being a possible accidental drowning with no foul play rather than the crazy conspiracy theories about a murder. It is so infuriating, and really Elisa deserves to be late to rest and to be allowed to finally be at peace.
I found this docu-series so insightful and so interesting but the way that the Youtubers pushed their own agendas into it and tried to make it a spectacle that it didn’t need to be was disgusting. I still see the YouTubers that talked about this not as people who wanted the best for her but as people who saw an opportunity and went for it because it gave them their own notoriety. In this whole investigation Elisa was a girl who had some mental health issues that deserved better. She did not deserve to go and die the way that she did and if she had got help and had people around her who could’ve helped her maybe this would’ve never happened. If the hotel had locked the doors or had the alarm working or whatever maybe this wouldn’t have happened. If the hatches were locked it wouldn’t have happened and it’s such a shame that such a young life was lost when there were so many ways in which it could’ve been avoided.
I recommend this docu-series if you do have an interest in this case but I do wonder if you will find it as infuriating as I did. To me it seemed that these people did not care for Elisa at all and they were simply playing up to the camera saying that they did to still get there five minutes of fame that they so wished for.
What do you think of The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel?
Until next time.
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