Netflix's Crime Scene anthology series to explore the twisted history of L.A.'s Cecil Hotel

Randall Colburn
·2 min read

Crime Scene, Netflix’s new true crime anthology, aims to distinguish itself by devoting each season not to a murder, but to a place. Season one zeroes in on Los Angeles’ Cecil Hotel, a hotbed of death, murder, and mystery that’s also housed two separate serial killers in Richard Ramirez and Jack Unterweger. Director Joe Berlinger, the true crime veteran behind the Paradise Lost trilogy, is lensing his exploration through the odd case of Elisa Lam, a college student whose disappearance was fueled by a viral video of her exhibiting very strange behavior in one of the Cecil’s elevators.

The above footage is glimpsed in the anthology’s first trailer, as are the other murders and mysteries that will be unpacked in the season. Berlinger speaks with former employees, cops, journalists, and medical experts as he scratches away at the hotel’s history and mythology.

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Check out the chilling trailer below:

“The Cecil Hotel is a specific place, but there’s a universality to how it’s viewed—everybody knows about that one house at the end of their street where notoriously chilling things have happened, and The Cecil Hotel is that for Los Angeles,” Berlinger said in a Q&A shared by Netflix. “It has taken on an urban legend-like quality for having a long history of mysterious happenings and crimes, including housing two notable serial killers: Richard Ramirez and Jack Unterweger. Location offers a very relatable point of entry to tell true crime stories, and to look at those locations from a historical standpoint and deconstruct how they became infamous. The Cecil was a jewel in LA when it was built in 1924, so we wanted to examine how it fell into disrepair, which is directly related to the social and cultural changes that happened in Downtown Los Angeles over the course of nearly a century.”

Crime Scene’s first season debuts in full on Netflix on February 10.