If you haven’t yet binge-watched all four episodes of Netflix‘s latest chilling true crime documentary that has everyone talking, then consider this evening’s plans sorted. From Oscar-nominated filmmaker Joe Berlinger, Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel tells the story of the Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles which, following a series of gruesome crimes, has become known as ‘LA’s deadliest hotel’.
The gripping documentary explores the disappearance of 21-year-old Canadian student Elisa Lam who was a guest at the hotel. Investigators released a video of Lam last seen from inside the hotel lift, behaving bizarrely and seeming distressed. The clip quickly went viral, attracting the attention of many internet sleuths and journalists (some of whom are interviewed in the doc).
But fans of horror anthology American Horror Story may have spotted some eerie similarities between the Cecil Hotel series and the show’s fifth season, American Horror Story: Hotel, starring Lady Gaga. The series centres around the Hotel Cortez in LA, where many chilling crimes and paranormal events take place. In fact, even though Elisa Lam’s tragic story isn’t explicitly referenced in AHS, it is what inspired creator Ryan Murphy to choose the hotel setting for his series.
Speaking to Collider in 2015, he said: “I was always very obsessed with The Hotel Cecil that is downtown, which is where the Night Stalker [serial killer Richard Ramirez, who features in both the documentary and AHS] is rumoured to have stayed and where they had the video of the girl getting on the elevator [and disappearing]. That place has had its share of bad publicity over the years, but that was one.”
Murphy continues: “There was a surveillance video that went around two years ago that just showed a girl getting into an elevator in a downtown hotel that is rumoured to be haunted, and she was never seen again.”
There are further parallels between the two shows, too. In 1947, Hotel Cecil was linked to the murder of Elizabeth Short (AKA Black Dahlia), who was rumoured to appear at the hotel’s bar shortly before she was killed in nearby Leimert Park. This is addressed in the documentary, and also fictionalised in season one of AHS.
Mena Suvari plays Elizabeth, who is drugged and assaulted by a dentist before eventually dying of an overdose.
Safe to say the chilling stories of Hotel Cecil definitely inspired Murphy through the years. We know what we’re binge-watching next!
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