Parents' Guide to

Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel

By Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Lurid crime docu is sensational and disturbing.

Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 15+

Just So So

The first two episodes were good. However, in the third episode it goes downhill fast. 1.3 was all speculation and covers the obsessions of an internet sleuth and a of youtubers in the Elisa Lam case. All the speculation is slow/boring. As well, these web “sleuths” are creepy lowlifes. Ron Howard could have done better.
age 15+


Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3 ):
Kids say (5 ):

This sensational four-part documentary series examines the highly publicized disappearance and death of Elisa Lam. However, much of the focus is on how her death relates to the Cecil Hotel's grim history, which is full of violent stories about multiple murders, suicides, and alleged ghost hauntings. The fact that some of California's most notorious deviants, like serial killer Richard Ramirez, are associated with the hotel adds to the hype. Also fueling the cult-like interest in Elisa Lam's death is security footage of what many believe are her final moments, the public release of which has led to endless speculation about what happened to her and why.

While amateur sleuths and conspiracy theorists use social media to investigate and share their opinions about the subject, some of which include accusations of police cover-ups and concerns about the hotel's supernatural forces, those directly affiliated with the case assert that there are more obvious and logical reasons that can explain what happened. But Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel creates the sense that no one has real answers, and that the hotel somehow played a role in Elisa Lam's demise. While this may feed some people's appetites for dark mysteries and conspiracy theories, die-hard crime investigation fans will find it lacking.

TV Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate