The Netflix documentary series “Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel” tells the story of a tragic disappearance

Teresa Balmori Perez, Reporter

The Netflix original documentary series “Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel” is a tragic, shocking, and mysterious crime story. The series was directed and created by American filmmaker Joseph Berlinger. The series was released on Feb. 10 in the United States. 

The documentary series tells the story of 21-year-old Elisa Lam who was found missing in 2013 in Los Angeles. She was last seen in the Cecil Hotel. Detectives and the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) try to solve the mystery surrounding her strange disappearance. The series also gives insight of the Cecil Hotel and the background story of its disturbing past and sketchy area that helps give more information about the possible outcomes of her departure. 

Berlinger’s visual and editing style makes the viewers feel like they are also watching a horror movie with the scary background music and clips that gives the audience the feeling of what Lam was going through during her visit in the hotel. She also tries to document and inform people of the process that the investigators and police worked through in order to conclude her disappearance. This is very explanatory for spectators who are not too familiar with her strange vanish and want to know more about it. 

The series also interviews different people who have stayed in the hotel and their perspectives and opinions that help people understand the type of environment she was staying in. It also tells the outcome of her disappearance, which can be surprising for some people who have not heard of her story and makes the viewer really engaged throughout the series. 

Although there are some great highlights in the series, there are also a few parts that could have been avoided or improved. The series is composed of four episodes but it could have easily been made into a movie instead of a series. The documentary interviewed only two employees but they could have interviewed more in order to give  different viewpoints on the crime scene. It also fails to interview people who had stayed in the hotel during the day she went missing, which could have made the series more informative. 

“Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel” is a great documentary for people who are interested in mysteries and who are looking to watch a short series over the weekend.