1. Elisa Lam and the Cecil Hotel

In February of 2013, twenty-one year old Elisa Lam’s body was found in a water tank atop the Cecil Hotel in California.  Her clothes were nowhere to be found.  According to the autopsy, there were no drugs in her system.  According to the hotel, there should be no access to the rooftop.  In spite of all of this. Elisa’s death was ruled an accidental drowning.  This puzzling ruling was not the most unsettling part of the case. (VigilantReport.com)

Investigators discovered the body weeks after Elisa’s disappearance and only because occupants of the hotel complained of strange tasting discolored water.  That is not the most unsettling aspect of this case.

The Cecil Hotel is reputedly haunted and in possession of a uniquely dark history, having housed serial killers and eventual suicides alike.  Shortly after Elisa Lam’s body was found, a tuberculosis outbreak occurred on Skid Row just a few blocks away and the test to determine the presence of tuberculosis in the human body is called the LAM ELISA test.  Elisa’s social media accounts were apparently set to auto-post content and when new posts went up, posthumously, a strange individual whose avatar displayed a dark tarot card left cryptic replies.  None of these details account for the most unsettling part of this case.

The most unsettling part of the mystery is this now widely-circulated video of Elisa Lam on the hotel elevator on the night of her disappearance.

What’s unsettling is the behavior of the young girl and the machine, the way Elisa behaves on the elevator and the way the elevator behaves in seeming response.  Amateur demonologists chase this story all over the internet, diagnosing an evil presence in the elevator’s seemingly sentient playfulness and Elisa’s strange gesticulations.  Regardless of whatever explanation is offered, it is chilling enough to know that we are watching a troubled woman in the final moments of her life.

Level of Skepticism:  Does it matter? It is very likely that the elevator footage captures a potential psychotic episode, or at best an intoxicated young lady fighting personal issues.  To the troubled mind, is there a difference between biblical demons and personal ones?

Tips for a Potential Director:  Choose the documentary form.  Employ the theatric and mysterious elements to build narrative strength and tension, but allow the more grounded explanation (Lake Mungo would serve as a great model).  The national attention and inherent creepiness of Elisa’s tragic death might provide an opportunity to articulate a much-needed educational statement about the imperative to address mental health in our country.

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