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Crime Scene: The Vanishing At Cecil Hotel

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The notorious Cecil Hotel grows in infamy when guest Elisa Lam vanishes. From the creator of "The Ted Bundy Tapes," a dive into crime's darkest places.

Streaming on Netflix, starting 02.10.2021

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I watched this right away because I remember being super creeped out when the elevator video made it's rounds.  After watching the whole thing, I found that I was more scared by the "web sleuths" who seemed so sure of themselves and their theories when they didn't have all of the information.  Admittedly, I watched the video and wanted to know the truth behind what had happened, but it was kind of amazing to me how so many people became obsessed by it.  It's hard to feel bad for the death metal guy whose artistry included so much murder and death imagery, but you'd think people would at least have realized that he wasn't even in the country at the time of the incident before sending death threats his way.

Some of the theories were interesting, but most of them seemed to have only a tenuous link to the actual events.  This story could have been told in one episode, four was a bit of a drag.

Edited by leocadia
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I fully agree with @leocadia, the web sleuths were very creepy.  Listening to all of those messages on the tip line? all of them assuming they knew more than the police?  the outrage that they didn't get to see the autopsy report when they wanted...🙄  The laughable "investigations" these people were doing, giggling over riding in the elevator and sneaking into her room.  The big "reveal that the one button in the elevator was "door open" 😆

I haven't gotten to the end of the series yet but since its still unsolved, I'm not holding my breath that something ground breaking will be revealed.  I feel so bad for that British couple that were staying there at the hotel.

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Yay! Glad someone started a topic on this. I've only watched the first episode, but I've enjoyed what I've seen so far.

I'm from Vancouver, so you can probably imagine the press this story got at the time. I was initially hoping this story was going to wind up on the new Unsolved Mysteries re-boot at some point, but lo and behold, a whole mini-series has appeared just on this case.

I must say, I was a bit stunned so many heavy-hitters were involved in making this: Ron Howard and Brian Glazer? Joe Berlinger? When I heard the announcement about the show, I was honestly expecting some indie low-budget doc that Netflix had snapped up, so the glossy production values were a surprise.

Apparently this is the first in a series of Crime Scene shows that Joe Berlinger has planned, that will focus on the locales of notorious crimes. I really like the concept - it reminds me of a great series that used to air on A&E called "City Confidential". Crimes don't happen in a vacuum, so I love learning about the context and history around incidents like this. Curious to see what he chooses next as his subject matter.

Re: the hotel, yikes! What a contrast between that stunning lobby and the rest of of that dump! I feel sorry for anyone who got fooled by first impressions and stayed there. L.A. is certainly a weird place, there is literally almost nothing worth seeing downtown, and unfortunately a lot of tourists don't realize this. It was like that when I visited as a kid (there was lots of car traffic, but it was like a ghost town in other respects), and it appears to be the same now.

I honestly don't know what to make of the woman who was the former hotel manager. She seemed almost comical to me - as if she were still working for the hotel and trying to uphold some shreds of propriety? Especially when she expressed shock and disbelief that the cops would ask about the employees and garbage disposal routine. Like, seriously, lady? You've worked in this flop-house for a decade, and you're shocked the cops would be investigating how a body might be disposed of in this classy establishment?

Looking forward to watching the remaining episodes.

 

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12 hours ago, Cheezwiz said:

Yay! Glad someone started a topic on this. I've only watched the first episode, but I've enjoyed what I've seen so far.

I'm from Vancouver, so you can probably imagine the press this story got at the time. I was initially hoping this story was going to wind up on the new Unsolved Mysteries re-boot at some point, but lo and behold, a whole mini-series has appeared just on this case.

I must say, I was a bit stunned so many heavy-hitters were involved in making this: Ron Howard and Brian Glazer? Joe Berlinger? When I heard the announcement about the show, I was honestly expecting some indie low-budget doc that Netflix had snapped up, so the glossy production values were a surprise.

Apparently this is the first in a series of Crime Scene shows that Joe Berlinger has planned, that will focus on the locales of notorious crimes. I really like the concept - it reminds me of a great series that used to air on A&E called "City Confidential". Crimes don't happen in a vacuum, so I love learning about the context and history around incidents like this. Curious to see what he chooses next as his subject matter.

Re: the hotel, yikes! What a contrast between that stunning lobby and the rest of of that dump! I feel sorry for anyone who got fooled by first impressions and stayed there. L.A. is certainly a weird place, there is literally almost nothing worth seeing downtown, and unfortunately a lot of tourists don't realize this. It was like that when I visited as a kid (there was lots of car traffic, but it was like a ghost town in other respects), and it appears to be the same now.

I honestly don't know what to make of the woman who was the former hotel manager. She seemed almost comical to me - as if she were still working for the hotel and trying to uphold some shreds of propriety? Especially when she expressed shock and disbelief that the cops would ask about the employees and garbage disposal routine. Like, seriously, lady? You've worked in this flop-house for a decade, and you're shocked the cops would be investigating how a body might be disposed of in this classy establishment?

Looking forward to watching the remaining episodes.

 

Yes, I found the information about the Cecil Hotel and Skid Row very interesting. I kind of wish they had delved into the evolution of the hotel and  all the murders and suicides more, instead of giving the random internet sleuths any airtime. Poor Elisa Lam and any other tourist stuck in an elevator with someone tweaking or peeing. 
 

The hotel manager made me think of the movie “Fargo” and seemed like she was part of a satire or something. She called her mom before the police when they found the body?

 

edit: I hadn’t seen the final episode yet. Now that I have, I sympathize with Elisa Lam more for whatever happened to her before and in the tank. I can’t imagine what her final hours were like, in her right mind or not. Also, so sorry for the poor musician whose livelihood and life were destroyed by online detectives.  

Edited by Frisson
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1 hour ago, Frisson said:

The hotel manager made me think of the movie “Fargo” and seemed like she was part of a satire or something. She called her mom before the police when she found the body? 

YES! That's exactly what she was reminding me of, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it! She does seem like a misplaced Coen Bros. character!

I could sort of understand why she initially took the job - hotel was meant to be cleaned up and turned into a generic Best Western type chain operation. But I'm baffled as to why she stayed so long. Ten years? TEN YEARS! I would have run screaming from that place after Day ONE!

Edited to Add: I too would have preferred more time on the history rather than the internet sleuths.

Edited by Cheezwiz
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1 minute ago, Cheezwiz said:

YES! That's exactly what she was reminding me of, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it! She does seem like a misplaced Coen Bros. character!

I could sort of understand why she initially took the job - hotel was meant to be cleaned up and turned into a generic Best Western type chain operation. But I'm baffled as to why she stayed so long. Ten years? TEN YEARS! I would have run screaming from that place after Day ONE!

Paraphrasing the manager’s question: “Is there any room where someone hasn’t died?”

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9 minutes ago, Cheezwiz said:

I could sort of understand why she initially took the job - hotel was meant to be cleaned up and turned into a generic Best Western type chain operation.

I wanted them to expand a little on how she actually got the job--didn't she say she had no hotel management experience?  Turning this hotel around would have been a huge job in any situation, why hire a General Manager with no experience?  It didn't make any sense to me.

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I binged this yesterday and felt like they could have cut out the 2nd and 3rd episodes and just made it a regular documentary rather than a docu-series. I did not care for the "web sleuths" 😒 and "youtubers" 🙄 at all. Especially the guy with the eerily calm voice who had a friend visit Elisa Lam's grave, film it, and touch the headstone, then cried about it on camera. Like, what?! He just creeped me out. And I was very put off by the people who visited the hotel like it was an amusement park or something. People died there tragically, lots of people, so maybe don't treat it like a joke.

I was in LA for the first time in 2018 and the homeless situation there is shocking. And I've spent most of my life in Chicago, so it's not like I'm not used to seeing homeless people. My cousin, who lives there, took us to some weird 1970's brutalist hotel (I think it was a hotel) downtown that had a revolving bar/restaurant at the top and then he drove us around the neighborhood afterwards. Like the docu-series showed, there are literally blocks and blocks packed with people living in tents. Seems like CA, which would be the 5th largest economy in the world if it were its own nation, should have the resources to tackle this issue... But I don't want to get too far off topic.

The general manager seemed to have a Jack Torrence-like devotion to the Cecil. Especially when she was referring to the hotel as she/her in the last episode. But honestly, with that history, the only thing that could help that hotel is to burn it to the ground and start over.

I definitely went into watching this thinking Elisa's death was unsolved, but it was pretty clear by the end that it's solved. Everything that the web sleuths flagged as suspicious had reasonable explanations (and to be fair, even though they annoy me, a lot of them admitted that). Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and sometimes a coincidence is just a coincidence.

Edited by MerBearStare
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6 hours ago, leocadia said:

I wanted them to expand a little on how she actually got the job--didn't she say she had no hotel management experience?  Turning this hotel around would have been a huge job in any situation, why hire a General Manager with no experience?  It didn't make any sense to me.

I thought everything about her was a bit odd - she seemed to still have a bit of an aura of "stunned bumpkin" about her, and  a weird devotion to the hotel years after she had left. Given the hotel's awful neighbourhood and sordid reputation, maybe there was just a real dearth of applicants?

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I just figured the management company hired her because she was inexperienced and they could get her for cheap.

I knew as soon as they mentioned that there were prescriptions that they were going to be a clue as to what happened to this poor woman.  

And yeah, way too much time spent on those idiot cyber sleuths.  

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3 hours ago, MerBearStare said:

I definitely went into watching this thinking Elisa's death was unsolved, but it was pretty clear by the end that it's solved. Everything that the web sleuths flagged as suspicious had reasonable explanations (and to be fair, even though they annoy me, a lot of them admitted that). Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and sometimes a coincidence is just a coincidence.

Yes, the conclusion the show came to was close to what I figured likely would have happened. I never delved too deeply into the conspiracy theories after the story hit the media, and the coverage eventually petered out.

Very sad, she was obviously a sensitive introvert who was wrestling with some very serious mental issues. It sounded like she was having a major psychotic break while she was at the hotel. 

I did like how they systematically debunked all of the conspiracy stuff in the final episode, and even the one YouTuber guy admitted a lot of the keyboard theories were ridiculous. I wish they hadn't devoted as much time to the amateur internet sleuths - the show could have easily been condensed into 2-3 episodes and been much better for it. That one weird obsessive guy they kept interviewing who wanted a photo of her grave was certainly side-eye worthy. I felt bad for the Mexican death-metal guy - he was correct when he said The Cecil Hotel claimed both him and Elisa, just in different ways.

I'm not saying there are literal ghosts wandering the hotel stalking people, but I do believe that energy collects in certain places and affects those immersed in it, much the same way heat gets absorbed into a wall and bounces off on people. The sheer amount of awful stuff that has happened there (and I don't mean the standard miserable OD's which are bad enough) is sort of staggering. Interestingly, I watched another documentary recently called "No One Saw A Thing" which kind of plays with a similar theme: a bunch of townspeople shoot a man who had been terrorizing the town for years to death. This man was admittedly heinous, but no one came forward, and no one was ever charged. Immediately afterward, the town's fortunes began to nose-dive, and a series of other ghastly high-profile crimes - which would normally be statistically very unlikely - happened there.

It will be interesting to see what happens to the hotel under new owners. Really, given its history, I think the best option would be to set a match to the place.

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11 hours ago, Cheezwiz said:

I'm not saying there are literal ghosts wandering the hotel stalking people, but I do believe that energy collects in certain places and affects those immersed in it, much the same way heat gets absorbed into a wall and bounces off on people. The sheer amount of awful stuff that has happened there (and I don't mean the standard miserable OD's which are bad enough) is sort of staggering. Interestingly, I watched another documentary recently called "No One Saw A Thing" which kind of plays with a similar theme: a bunch of townspeople shoot a man who had been terrorizing the town for years to death. This man was admittedly heinous, but no one came forward, and no one was ever charged. Immediately afterward, the town's fortunes began to nose-dive, and a series of other ghastly high-profile crimes - which would normally be statistically very unlikely - happened there.

Are we the same person, Cheezwiz? I've said basically the same thing about energy, but to explain why I do believe in literal ghosts. At the risk of sounding like a hippie, I think sometimes something so bad happens that the energy from it sticks around and keeps playing itself out (like the Japanese tsunami episode in the most recent Unsolved Mysteries season). I remember once in college I was living in a terrible roommate situation (nothing too serious, just standard young people drama). I was walking home from class and it was a beautiful spring day, the sun was setting, and I just felt really content. Then as soon as I walked into my house, my mood dropped because my roommates had just been fighting and I could like feel it in the air as soon as I walked in. And I feel like, if you can feel bad energy from something as inconsequential as a stupid roommate fight, then you're going to feel energy from serious things like murders, suicides, overdoses, and accidental deaths.

Was No One Saw a Thing about Skidmore, MO and it aired on Sundance? I became obsessed with that story after first hearing about it in an episode of the podcast Criminal. Then Buzzfeed Unsolved did a video about it and I found on Youtube a 60 Minutes story about it from the early 80's. I didn't put any thought into what happened to the town after the murder, but the documentary really showed how secrets fester and it seemed to infect the town. I wonder how the town would be today had someone confessed rather than everyone having to keep a major secret like that. While I don't normally support vigilantism, the justice system did not help that town at all, so I can't really blame them for doing what they had to do to protect themselves from someone who had shot multiple people, raped and abused women, and set a house on fire. Even with the most deserving victim, though, murder's gotta be a tough secret to live with.

 

Edited by MerBearStare
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2 hours ago, MerBearStare said:

Was No One Saw a Thing about Skidmore, MO and it aired on Sundance? I became obsessed with that story after first hearing about it in an episode of the podcast Criminal. Then Buzzfeed Unsolved did a video about it and I found on Youtube a 60 Minutes story about it from the early 80's. I didn't put any thought into what happened to the town after the murder, but the documentary really showed how secrets fester and it seemed to infect the town. I wonder how the town would be today had someone confessed rather than everyone having to keep a major secret like that. While I don't normally support vigilantism, the justice system did not help that town at all, so I can't really blame them for doing what they had to do to protect themselves from someone who had shot multiple people, raped and abused women, and set a house on fire. Even with the most deserving victim, though, murder's gotta be a tough secret to live with.

Yes! I just watched it recently on Sundance. The series was well done, if a bit too long.

I'm actually old enough to remember when the incident originally happened - it was featured on 60 Minutes, and I then saw a network TV Movie about it which starred Brian Dennehy as the bad guy murdered by the townspeople. I too am very opposed to vigilante justice, but man, those people in the town really were left without any recourse. I never kept up with the story afterward, so the update in the Sundance documentary about the town''s declining fortunes was a bit of a jaw-dropper.

I didn't mean to derail the thread, but I think that was kind of the point the filmmakers were trying to make with this installation of "Crime Scene", that sometimes even when things are eventually found to be tragic accidents with no perpetrator, they can often take place in locales that have been marinating in despair or darkness. A sort of vortex of negativity, if you will.

@MerBearStare The example you gave of coming home to your roommates is an excellent one. I really do think certain buildings/locales can absorb the energy of bad things that have happened there. I have also experienced the opposite - on an annual heritage home tour I have gone on, a couple of homes made a huge impression on me, not just because of their architectural beauty, but just a special ambiance that made me feel really warm & happy, and wish I could LIVE in them, or at least come back for repeat visits. I really think those homes were loving ones.

Thank you all for coming to my woo-woo Ted Talk!

 

 

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I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this was a bit exploitative.... without the “creepy” video not one of those web sleuths would even know her name.  What a sad story.  

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16 hours ago, Cheezwiz said:

It will be interesting to see what happens to the hotel under new owners. Really, given its history, I think the best option would be to set a match to the place.

I think the property has been deemed a historical site/landmark by the city of Los Angeles. So it will remain and no doubt continue to rack up various tragedies and mysteries. 

I agree with others. This docu-series could’ve been done in two episodes, three tops. They spent way too much time on the sleuthers who didn’t know the half of what was going on with this case, but were so sure that she was murdered, and crazy enough became insistent that the poor Mexican heavy metal singer did it. His life now ruined essentially over lies and SM. Once again we see how toxic it, especially the latter can be.  

Regarding Ms. Lam, my heart hurts for her and her family. It’s obvious that she was having some type of psychotic episode which unfortunately led to her death. Her behavior while in LA tracked with her history of mental illness. Based on her Tumblr posts she sounded like a young woman like any who wanted to live a full, happy and interesting life, but sadly it wasn’t meant to be. Very sad. 

Edited by Enero
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One thing I do NOT recommend: Don't finish watching this at 2 a.m. and go to bed in an empty house with that freaky elevator video playing over and over in your brain. 

This recommendation is based on personal experience.  

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On 2/10/2021 at 7:46 PM, leocadia said:

I found that I was more scared by the "web sleuths" who seemed so sure of themselves and their theories when they didn't have all of the information. 

Let me make it abundantly clear that, should I go missing and later turn up dead, I will haunt whatever "influencer," "web sleuth," "YouTuber," or random dental school student/weirdo with a devotion fetish for the dead until their own end days. Those people in this documentary cared as much about Elisa Lam as I do about fixing broken microwave ovens. They cared about taking a well-known tragedy and using it to create "content" to enrich themselves. How fucking awful for Elisa's family that these goons and conspiracy peddlers made up such ridiculous and hurtful theories about a person they neither knew nor gave a shit about and then moved on to their next target in the ceaseless thirst for internet likes, Patreon subscribers, and super chat funds. YouTube and Facebook are like the modern-day Mystery Machine for this group of pathetic Scooby Gang members.

I laughed out loud at one of the "YouTuber" Sherlock Holmeses who appeared so stupid she could barely read the words (she probably plagiarized) aloud. She may have been the same one who couldn't even pronounce the word "Cecil" correctly ... "sEYEsill" 

Don't even get me started about the mental gymnastics these low-IQ posers did with the TB outbreak on Skid Row. 

Joel Berlinger should be ashamed of himself. I feel I need a Silkwood Shower to get this toxic mess of a series out of my body. This poor girl and her family deserved so much better.

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I appreciated the time spent on the ridiculousness of the web sleuths if only as warning how these things spiral out of control and the toxicity of operating in a vacuum.  A clearly innocent man was driven to a suicide attempt because of how these folks cherry pick their facts and twist their presentations to fit their theory. Going in, I knew about the video of course but I  also had some notion that she was having a psychotic break. The thought of her running around the hotel paranoid and alone looking for safety is truly heartbreaking.  
 

The hotel manager saying it wasn’t their responsibility to notice or report odd behavior because it was the Cecil after all was bullshit. You remodeled and renamed several floors to appeal to young, international youth hostel type guests, you bear some responsibility for their safety. Her behavior was odd enough to warrant moving her to her own room,. She was also shouting “I’m crazy” in the lobby. What if someone just asked, are you all right, do you need us to call someone? 

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How incredibly sad.  I knew nothing of this case going in, so it was all new to me.  Meds are hard for people who need them, you start feeling good and think you don't need them.  

I was a member of an online forum that was into true crime, open cases mostly, and went down the Casey Anthony rabbit hole.  It's very easy to do, it becomes such an obsession, most of the time an unhealthy one.  That should have been a documentary itself, the online crime sleuths.  

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These true crime shows are not my cup of tea in general, but I keep watching some of these Netflix ones when they come up recommended or on trending and then immediately regret my decision because they just exacerbate my depression or scare me right before I try to go to sleep!  Notwithstanding that, I have a ton to say about this show.

I feel like I had heard the story of this case before, all the way out to the final conclusion that the victim put herself into the tank.  Did a procedural drama show ever dramatize this case?  It just seemed familiar beyond, “Oh, I heard about that on the news 7 years ago.”

As soon as they said she had bipolar in the first(?) episode, I knew in my heart that accounted for the video actions and her death.  I don’t know if that was because I knew the story of the case on some level, or just because I have family experience dealing with bipolar.  But I knew all this speculation that she was on drugs, or had been drugged, was a red herring.

On 2/12/2021 at 6:04 PM, BellyLaughter said:

I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this was a bit exploitative.... without the “creepy” video not one of those web sleuths would even know her name.  What a sad story.  

 

14 hours ago, Giant Misfit said:

Let me make it abundantly clear that, should I go missing and later turn up dead, I will haunt whatever "influencer," "web sleuth," "YouTuber," or random dental school student/weirdo with a devotion fetish for the dead until their own end days. Those people in this documentary cared as much about Elisa Lam as I do about fixing broken microwave ovens. They cared about taking a well-known tragedy and using it to create "content" to enrich themselves. How fucking awful for Elisa's family that these goons and conspiracy peddlers made up such ridiculous and hurtful theories about a person they neither knew nor gave a shit about and then moved on to their next target in the ceaseless thirst for internet likes, Patreon subscribers, and super chat funds. YouTube and Facebook are like the modern-day Mystery Machine for this group of pathetic Scooby Gang members.

Agree with both of these comments about the exploitation by the web sleuths of the whole situation, and how the documentary itself leaned into that exploitation a bit further by dragging it out for so long before exposing them for their ignorance.  I have seen so many people dive off the deep end on Internet conspiracy theories in the past few years (whether it’s fandom, politics, crime, whatever), and it astounds me at the complete lack of critical thinking skills.  When they were talking about the TB conspiracy, I was thinking, “This sounds so crazy, but do the people watching this on Netflix understand that it is crazy, or are they getting caught up in the story?”  Could the show have taken more a point of view on the craziness?

12 hours ago, DanielleBowden said:

The hotel manager saying it wasn’t their responsibility to notice or report odd behavior because it was the Cecil after all was bullshit. You remodeled and renamed several floors to appeal to young, international youth hostel type guests, you bear some responsibility for their safety. Her behavior was odd enough to warrant moving her to her own room,. She was also shouting “I’m crazy” in the lobby. What if someone just asked, are you all right, do you need us to call someone? 

I mean, I understand your point of view and don’t want to dismiss your compassion for this young woman.  But that hotel was a place where people were on substances on the regular, many mentally ill people were calling it home, the city legally prevented them from evicting any transient “residents,” and 80 people were murdered or died there in 10 years.  They probably saw people acting like Elisa every single day.  And I know you can say she was staying on the foreign visitor side of the hotel, but as the manager said, the police don’t even pick up the phone when they call, and she probably didn’t want to get into it with an unstable person who would be leaving soon.

To that end, I thought the detour to explain Skid Row and eviction freeze during their renovations were an absolutely damming indictment of the ability of L.A., California, this country to do anything effective about homelessness, extreme poverty and mental illness.  Just heartbreaking. 

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7 hours ago, Peace 47 said:

Could the show have taken more a point of view on the craziness?

Yes, this exactly! Three episodes were spent, and a good portion of the fourth, presenting these opportunists as serious "investigators." I mean, I knew that jig was up when the one dude announced himself as a "YouTuber," but ... did the majority of the audience? And not one of them was asked about their hounding of "Morbid" (related: LOL LOL LOL) and their role in ruining his life. Their interviews were given the same gravity as the interviews with actual investigators and people with thorough knowledge of the case. 

I got a strong "serial killer in the making" vibe from that guy who started the FB group. 

Also: enough with the drone shots. Such a cheap, lazy way to fill time.

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This was terrible. The "internet sleuths" were sad, delusional, and more than a little creepy. And not in a way that was remotely interesting or entertaining or educational.

In the end did we learn anything about Elisa Lam that we didn't already know from actual news reports? I feel like we didn't.

Really this show's only redeeming qualities were 1.) Rhea Seehorn's surprising performance as Hotel Manager Lady, and 2.) it made me feel tons of sympathy for a guy named Morbid who makes his living doing something called Death Metal.

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Like a lot of you, I think this series wasted way too much time on the "web sleuths". Even before we got to the answers in the last episode, I felt like those folks were really reaching without any solid evidence.

Quote

Agree with both of these comments about the exploitation by the web sleuths of the whole situation, and how the documentary itself leaned into that exploitation a bit further by dragging it out for so long before exposing them for their ignorance.  I have seen so many people dive off the deep end on Internet conspiracy theories in the past few years (whether it’s fandom, politics, crime, whatever), and it astounds me at the complete lack of critical thinking skills.  

Yes--especially to that last sentence. I wish the series had spent more time exploring the lack of critical thinking skills and the damage done by this social media idea that "I know as much as experts in this field". The past several years in the US have shown us how destructive this way of thinking can be. (One of the YouTubers used a phrase like "many people are saying" while detailing one of her crackpot theories, which made me roll my eyes.) I agree that the filmmakers dropped the ball by not directly asking the amateurs about how their mob mentality actions hurt the death metal musician.

The filmmakers also glossed over the much deeper point made near the end by the Skid Row historian, about the widespread suffering and mental illness in the Skid Row area. Hotel employees didn't intervene to help Elisa, because they'd been conditioned to find symptoms like hers commonplace in their environment (or thought that her behavior was relatively harmless in comparison to even worse things that went down at that hotel). If Elisa had been staying at a higher end hotel in, say, Santa Monica or Beverly Hills, might she have gotten the help she needed? And how many other "Elisas" have there been on the streets of Skid Row that also suffered tragic fates, but whose names we'll never know? Because that pain and illness is happening to members of marginalized groups in an economically devastated neighborhood, our society lets it continue to happen as long as it's contained to an area like Skid Row.

But instead of going more into those issues, we spent an entire episode listening to ridiculous YouTube conspiracy theories.

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On 2/12/2021 at 7:16 PM, Enero said:

I agree with others. This docu-series could’ve been done in two episodes, three tops. They spent way too much time on the sleuthers who didn’t know the half of what was going on with this case, but were so sure that she was murdered, and crazy enough became insistent that the poor Mexican heavy metal singer did it. His life now ruined essentially over lies and SM. Once again we see how toxic it, especially the latter can be.  

Regarding Ms. Lam, my heart hurts for her and her family. It’s obvious that she was having some type of psychotic episode which unfortunately led to her death. Her behavior while in LA tracked with her history of mental illness. Based on her Tumblr posts she sounded like a young woman like any who wanted to live a full, happy and interesting life, but sadly it wasn’t meant to be. Very sad. 

This documentary devoted WAY too much time to the YouTubers and web sleuths. I understand why they were included in the telling of the story but I wish that it had been approached differently and with less attention to those that simply desire attention.

I would have preferred to learn more about Elisa and her family. I also think that the documentary could have benefitted by a deeper discussion on bipolar disorder and those that struggle with mental health. This is also my criticism about "Unsolved Mysteries." I can't even imagine how horrible her final hours must have been as she slowly drowned in that water tank.

On 2/13/2021 at 10:45 AM, DanielleBowden said:

The hotel manager saying it wasn’t their responsibility to notice or report odd behavior because it was the Cecil after all was bullshit. You remodeled and renamed several floors to appeal to young, international youth hostel type guests, you bear some responsibility for their safety. Her behavior was odd enough to warrant moving her to her own room,. She was also shouting “I’m crazy” in the lobby. What if someone just asked, are you all right, do you need us to call someone? 

The hotel manager made me crazy. Yes, she had probably seen many ugly, sad, disturbing situations in her time there. However, it is now years later and her "defense"of the hotel and its occurrences was troubling to me. After all, she is in a documentary about this poor young woman's death and she seems unaffected by all of it. To my way of thinking, if she did see Elisa acting disoriented in the hotel, the humane thing to do would have been to ask her if she needed help. Maybe there was nothing that she could have done. However, if it were me, I would never stop thinking that perhaps this tragedy could have been avoided if I had acted and tried to intervene . 

18 hours ago, Peace 47 said:

To that end, I thought the detour to explain Skid Row and eviction freeze during their renovations were an absolutely damming indictment of the ability of L.A., California, this country to do anything effective about homelessness, extreme poverty and mental illness.  Just heartbreaking. 

Agree 100%. This is the central part of this story.

One final comment: I absolutely hated how this documentary was filmed. Too many shots of dark corridors and of people's eyes looking at computers. (Didn't the web sleuths buy light bulbs?) There was no need for the faux sense of eerie.

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11 hours ago, zibnchy said:

Really this show's only redeeming qualities were 1.) Rhea Seehorn's surprising performance as Hotel Manager Lady,

OMG, yes!  I kept thinking that she reminded me of someone and I think you nailed it.

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I just watched a one hour show on HLN about this case.  It really didn't need four hours to do it.  I believe in the end she sadly crawled in the tank on her own.  They sure took long enough to tell us about her medications.  I noticed on the HLN show that the hotel is now closed and looks mostly empty.   

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I was so excited for this show because I love a haunted house story and I thought this was going to be about the hotel itself and its creepy history. This was a mess. "Web sleuths" and "YouTubers" are now things of scorn in my household. Not that they weren't already; let's be honest.

And the "similarities" between Elisa's case and the movie Dark Water were just embarrassing. What a reach.

I can't get past the 20-pound lid on the tank being closed, but otherwise...I want those four hours of my life back.

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I watched the first three episodes, it was really interesting at first but then it just felt like I was watching idiot QAnon conspiracy nuts.  These “web sleuths” all seem like gullible morons who want to read meanings into things that have no relevance because they want everything to be connected to everything else and tied up in an nice bow. 
“Oh my god, some death metal guy has a music video showing a woman running through the woods! That is just like Elisa Lam!” Except for like, everything about it. 

If the rest of the episodes are more of what Episode 3 was, I’m out, and I am really disappointed that these idiots are being given a platform to spew their conspiracy nonsense.

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1 hour ago, LakeGal said:

I just watched a one hour show on HLN about this case.

Do you have a title and/or link?  Thanks. 

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I didn’t realize it was only 4 episodes, it looked like 5 in the Netflix list, so I figured I might as well finish it. I am glad they showed the “web sleuths” for the idiots they are, but I really wish the filmmakers had not given them so much air time in episode 3. Their interviews were being given exactly as much weight as the actual police investigators like the filmmakers wanted the viewers to actually consider what they were saying. Every single time one of them started speaking I felt stupider. Every single one of their “clues” just made me go “...so?”

And the one guy with the checkered shirt who sent his friend to Elisa’s grave is a fucking lunatic! He was so emotional at the end and spoke about Elisa as if he actually knew her and had a real connection to her! It’s disgusting. You’re some internet rando who obsessed over a girl you never met and did nothing except make the actual investigation harder and cause another man to attempt suicide.

Anytime someone says, “I did some research” it actually means, “I read some message boards and watched YouTube videos, therefore I am more informed than than the actual authorities.”

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The way they all kept calling them “web sleuths” was cracking me up by the end.  Do these guys all have cards that say “Joe Obsessive, Web Sleuth?”  Or did the producers have to stop everyone else, especially the police, every time they called them nut jobs and say, no we are calling them web sleuths.  Take 2.

11 hours ago, bilgistic said:

 

I can't get past the 20-pound lid on the tank being closed, but otherwise...I want those four hours of my life back.

The first time the maintenance worker told the story about finding her, he said he closed the lid after seeing her.  The question for me was - was it open when he found her?  He eventually said it was.  Even if it wasn’t, they had already established from the beer cans/cigarette butts that lots of people went on the roof and with the hotel’s clientele, not a stretch to imagine one of them may have found her in there with the lid open and just closed it instead of reporting it.

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11 hours ago, Quilt Fairy said:

Do you have a title and/or link?  Thanks. 

It was one of their Real Life Nightmare shows.  The episode was called  “Deadly Hotel Check-In” 

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When I first saw the elevator video, I didn’t think “It looks like she’s hiding from someone.” I thought, “it looks like she’s having a psychotic episode and is imagining things that aren’t there.” As soon as they said she was bipolar I thought “Ah. There you go. She either went off her meds or took something else and is having a bad trip.” The most obvious reason being, if you run into an elevator to get away from someone you don’t then press all the buttons.

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On 2/14/2021 at 7:30 AM, Giant Misfit said:

Yes, this exactly! Three episodes were spent, and a good portion of the fourth, presenting these opportunists as serious "investigators." I mean, I knew that jig was up when the one dude announced himself as a "YouTuber," but ... did the majority of the audience? And not one of them was asked about their hounding of "Morbid" (related: LOL LOL LOL) and their role in ruining his life. Their interviews were given the same gravity as the interviews with actual investigators and people with thorough knowledge of the case. 

I got a strong "serial killer in the making" vibe from that guy who started the FB group. 

Also: enough with the drone shots. Such a cheap, lazy way to fill time.

I was waiting for them to say something...anything to these Investigator wannabes about almost driving a man to suicide. He visited the hotel a year before this even happened you idiots. Fun fact, death mental performance antics are quite popular in Mexico and Columbia. It’s a performance.  I also agree that these people didn’t give a shit about Elisa, they ran around that hotel like it was an amusement park. Their glee at gaining access to her room was disgusting. Being Canadian it was a huge news story here but it was pretty obvious after the investigation was closed what had happened. Another fun fact, her parents and family never believed she was murdered. 

Edited by sainte-chapelle
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41 minutes ago, sainte-chapelle said:

 I also agree that these people didn’t give a shit about Elisa, they ran around that hotel like it was an amusement park. Their glee at gaining access to her room was disgusting.

Yes, this was truly troubling.  No respect at all for Elisa.

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1 hour ago, TexasGal said:

The way they all kept calling them “web sleuths” was cracking me up by the end.  Do these guys all have cards that say “Joe Obsessive, Web Sleuth?”  Or did the producers have to stop everyone else, especially the police, every time they called them nut jobs and say, no we are calling them web sleuths.  Take 2.

The first time the maintenance worker told the story about finding her, he said he closed the lid after seeing her.  The question for me was - was it open when he found her?  He eventually said it was.  Even if it wasn’t, they had already established from the beer cans/cigarette butts that lots of people went on the roof and with the hotel’s clientele, not a stretch to imagine one of them may have found her in there with the lid open and just closed it instead of reporting it.

The first paragraph made me laugh. Those people with their manufactured drama. Thanks for the clarification about the tank lid.

1 hour ago, Cotypubby said:

When I first saw the elevator video, I didn’t think “It looks like she’s hiding from someone.” I thought, “it looks like she’s having a psychotic episode and is imagining things that aren’t there.” As soon as they said she was bipolar I thought “Ah. There you go. She either went off her meds or took something else and is having a bad trip.” The most obvious reason being, if you run into an elevator to get away from someone you don’t then press all the buttons.

OK, bipolar disorder doesn't typically cause hallucinations in and of itself. It's a mood disorder characterized by alternate depressive and manic episodes wherein the latter, one may be on a "high" for several days, engaging in highly excitable, irritable or even risky behavior, sometimes avoiding sleep for days until one "crashes". Sleep deprivation can cause hallucinations.

From her online journaling, it sounded like Elisa struggled more with depression, but was maybe going through a manic phase, what with the erratic behavior her bunkmates complained about and the notes she left. I just don't think we can assume anything based on the infamous elevator video where we can't see anyone else who may be out of frame. This series put more stock into that video (and those wannabe detectives) than anything else of actual substance, and that was a disservice to Elisa.

People with schizophrenia can have illusions of "voices in one's head", people who aren't really there, extreme paranoia, etc. Per her journaling, Elisa had not been diagnosed with schizophrenia, which presents quite differently from a depression disorder. With the specific "cocktail" of meds she was on, it appears to me that her care had been managed by a psychiatrist, and was likely correctly diagnosed.

I say all this as someone who has struggled with depression and anxiety my entire life (I'm 46) and who has been medicated for 25+ years. I have a shitton of experience with doctors and medication, so I consider myself much more educated about mental health than a random "web sleuth". It bothers me a great deal to hear people who are uneducated about mental illness saying/assuming things that just aren't true, which further harms an already extremely stigmatized and significant portion of the population at large.

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I've only watched 3 episodes but echo others. This was too long. Way too many repetitive interviews with web sleuths saying the same, bland stuff over and over --or when they went beyond "I watched the video so many times" or "at this point, I was thinking it was murder"--it was on to stupid conspiracy theories. If they had cut this down to "footage that actually tells you something" it would likely be 2 episodes

I've been wondering when they mention she was moved to a different room due to complaints about her odd behavior, there was no follow up on what that was--no mention of attempts to interview the women who complained or details on the complaints. Also, by epi 3 no clear 'did someone climb up on the water tanks when the police searched and look in them or at least confirm the lids were on them?" From other comments here on how this ends, I'm assuming that is intentional because they wanted to fill more time with repetitive interviews. 

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This was really just a cautionary tale about web sleuths. Disgusting what they did to that poor Morbid guy.

But I hope the police also learned a lesson. They knew it was a high-profile case, and could have shut down some of the conspiracy theories just by not making stupid mistakes - or at least explaining their mistakes when they happened, as opposed to months or years later.

I too was surprised we never heard from the girls who were sharing a room with Elisa. They were among the last people to really interact with her. But if she was leaving notes saying "Go away" and "Go home", it definitely sounds like she was hallucinating someone after her.

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18 hours ago, bilgistic said:

I was so excited for this show because I love a haunted house story and I thought this was going to be about the hotel itself and its creepy history. This was a mess. "Web sleuths" and "YouTubers" are now things of scorn in my household. Not that they weren't already; let's be honest.

I thought the same thing - that maybe each episode would focus on a different event in its history. Then I wondered if I just didn’t pay close enough attention to the promos. Looks like I wasn’t the only one who got the wrong impression. 

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20 hours ago, Cotypubby said:

Anytime someone says, “I did some research” it actually means, “I read some message boards and watched YouTube videos, therefore I am more informed than than the actual authorities.”

giphy.gif

 

"i'M aN iNTeRneT deTeCTiVe" - everyone interviewed in this series

giphy.gif

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8 hours ago, IndianPaintbrush said:

This was really just a cautionary tale about web sleuths. Disgusting what they did to that poor Morbid guy.

But I hope the police also learned a lesson. They knew it was a high-profile case, and could have shut down some of the conspiracy theories just by not making stupid mistakes - or at least explaining their mistakes when they happened, as opposed to months or years later.

I too was surprised we never heard from the girls who were sharing a room with Elisa. They were among the last people to really interact with her. But if she was leaving notes saying "Go away" and "Go home", it definitely sounds like she was hallucinating someone after her.

The girls probably noped out of this hot mess. I really don’t blame them for not wanting to be on the show. I don’t see what the Tourist couple had to add other than their disgust at drinking the water. I was expecting each episode to be focused on a different case. It is pretty clear what happened to poor Elisa Lam.

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Not to speak ill of the dead, but I blame Michelle McNamara for issuing in the age of "web sleuths".

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18 minutes ago, bilgistic said:

Not to speak ill of the dead, but I blame Michelle McNamara for issuing in the age of "web sleuths".

Agreed.  I started to watch the HBO series "I'll Be Gone in the Dark" thinking that it was about a serial killer, but the first episode seemed to be more about her.  I didn't finish it because that was not the show I had signed up for.  

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47 minutes ago, bilgistic said:

Not to speak ill of the dead, but I blame Michelle McNamara for issuing in the age of "web sleuths".

In her care, wasn’t she instrumental in getting the case solved? There’s another documentary on Netflix called “Don’t Fuck with Cats” and those amateur sleuths actually helped solve the case. In Elisa Lama’s case, though, they were not helpful and I agree that far too much time was spent on them here.

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5 minutes ago, DangerousMinds said:

In her care, wasn’t she instrumental in getting the case solved? There’s another documentary on Netflix called “Don’t Fuck with Cats” and those amateur sleuths actually helped solve the case. In Elisa Lama’s case, though, they were not helpful and I agree that far too much time was spent on them here.

She was, but IIRC, she had been a true crime writer/researcher/podcaster (on other cases) for years before the Golden State Killer case was finally broken. Just as people see someone on Instagram or YouTube being famous for doing nothing and think they, too, can be an "influencer", these "internet detectives" think that because they watched a video 20 times, they can do what someone with years of experience and insider information from the police did. There's no vetting or education required to get on the internet, and the learning curve is shallow. The internet is a monster that creates infinite babies on which it feeds.

I say as I post on an online forum.

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9 hours ago, DangerousMinds said:

There’s another documentary on Netflix called “Don’t Fuck with Cats” and those amateur sleuths actually helped solve the case

Didn’t they also cause a completely innocent person to commit suicide?

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Didn’t they also cause a completely innocent person to commit suicide?

I don't know anything about this part, but it does not, in my opinion, take away from the service they did provide. 

Quote

It's hard to feel bad for the death metal guy whose artistry included so much murder and death imagery

I feel bad for him regardless of his imagery/persona/creative whatever-you-call-it. If they'd framed Stephen King (or, you know, someone who people may find to be "dark"), I'd feel bad for him too! Everyone apologize to Morbid!

I can't denigrate all so-called "web sleuths," considering that there have been instances of wrongfully convicted people being helped, if not fully exonerated, because of ordinary people with an interest in a case. It isn't the same as catching the real perpetrators, obviously, but it's definitely a positive contribution from people with an interest in true crime.

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On 2/11/2021 at 3:48 PM, Frisson said:

Paraphrasing the manager’s question: “Is there any room where someone hasn’t died?”

And yet she seemed shocked and annoyed that the police would want to look through the garbage and interview the employees 🙄 

Agree too much time was spent on the internet sleuths. As soon as they mentioned "Oh there is another foot in the footage", I lost interest. Seeing things that weren't there seemed all they were focusing on. I felt bad for Morbid. Especially when he talked about how he had proof (stamps in his passport and a contract with dates) that he wasn't in the country, yet that didn't matter. They were determined to make him a killer.

I admit, when I first heard about Elisa Lam and watched the video, I kept thinking maybe she saw a ghost. With the history of the Cecil it wouldn't surprise me if that place was haunted. After learning about her bipolar disorder, my heart breaks for her and her family. She was completely alone in her final moments. 

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The big reveal at the end that the maintenance man found the hatch open and closed it made me roll my eyes. They kept trying to make it seem like this huge mystery, "why was the hatch closed?! The police found it closed!" I said right from the start "the police didn't find the body, duh." This miniseries was okay but they really tried to drag out some details for suspense when the answers were obvious.

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