Elisa Lam: The College Girl From Canada Whose Hotel Death Is So ‘Mysterious’ She Inspired A Horror Film

By    |  May 28, 2014

Elisa Lam, a Chinese-Canadian girl who tragically died last year at a downtown Los Angeles hotel, has – rather unfortunately – become something of an internet sensation, and continues to develop more of a following as time goes on.

Mysterious Circumstances Abound

Lam, who was a student at the University of British Columbia : Vancouver, had traveled to California with plans to visit San Diego and Santa Cruz, with a quick stop in Los Angeles. During her stay at Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles, she died inside one of the hotel’s rooftop water tanks, despite it being covered and behind locked, alarmed, doors.

Lam’s parents reported her missing in early February of 2013 after not hearing from her. On February 19, 2013, a maintenance worker at the hotel found her nude body decomposing inside a water tank atop the hotel, after trying to figure out why the water pressure was lower than usual. Guests at the hotel had been showering, brushing teeth, and drinking water from that tank for over two weeks before the body was discovered.

Initially, the Los Angeles Police Department was considering “suspicious circumstances” regarding Miss Lam’s death, which often precurses a homicide investigation. However, in June of last year, officials announced an accidental death ruling in the case, despite not having any idea how the young girl ended up in the water tank.

Chilling Video Shows Lam’s Last Moments

Earlier in 2013, when Lam was still missing, police had released the below video of her last known sighting inside the hotel’s elevator. The chilling video shows the girl appearing frightened and confused as she unsuccessfully tries to direct the elevator. At one point in the video, Lam can also be seen apparently ‘talking’ to someone, despite appearing to be completely alone. Later in the video, she seems to be hiding in the corner of the elevator for some reason, after flailing her arms in apparent despair.

The video attracted viral attention from around the world, especially in the United States, Canada, and China. Thousands of conspiracy theories on the web tried to surmise what may have caused Lam’s bizarre behavior, and eventual death.

Early theories on the web included possible drug use by Lam such as LSD or other psychedelics. However, the college student had never been known to use drugs or other substances, and the subsequent toxicology report released by the Los Angeles coroner’s office confirmed that no drugs were in her system. More imaginative theories include the supernatural, such as demons, or ghosts of past (infamous) hotel residents, such as Richard Ramirez and Jack Unterweger, two serial killers who lived in the hotel for long-term periods during the 1980s; the building was also well-known as a place where people would commit suicide in the 1950s-1960s, according to some reports.

As the case began attracting international attention, Lam’s family announced that she suffered from bipolar disorder, which investigators later concluded played some role in the girl’s death, despite several unanswered mysteries.

At the time of this writing, Miss Lam’s missing clothing have still not been found, and the actual cause of her death remains a mystery.

Eerie Similarities To 2005 Horror Film

Bloggers and amateur sleuths continue to research the captivating story. One of the more popular topics being circulated online is the eerie similarity between Lam’s mysterious death and the 2005 horror film called Dark Water.

In that movie, a woman named Dahlia moves into an apartment building with her young daughter, Cecilia. Soon thereafter, Dahlia notices dark-colored water leaking from the ceiling in her bathroom. She ultimately discovers that a young girl named Natasha Rimsky drowned in the building’s rooftop water tank, which caused the water to turn black.

Several hotel guests interviewed at the time by CNN reported a “funny” taste and black-colored water coming from shower heads, despite there being no measurable level of bacteria or other contamination when city workers tested the hotel’s water supply in preparation for a mandatory de-contamination process.

The ending of Dark Water is also disturbing relevant: The apartment building’s elevator malfunctions and the ghost of Cecilia’s mother braids her hair.

Hollywood Quickly Capitalizes On Story

Just months after Lam’s death, screenwriters Brandon and Phillip Murphy announced they had finished a horror script based on the story, which follows a private detective hired to investigate a mysterious ‘murder’ at a Los Angeles hotel. Despite public outcries from friends and Chinese netizens, multiple production companies were apparently interested in picking up the script, and Sony eventually bought it for $300,000 with an additional $700,000 due if and when the film is successfully produced.

Currently, it appears the flick will indeed move forward, under the title The Bringing.

Update 5/31/2015: Through 2014, there was a lot of hearsay regarding whether this film would move forward, especially after Sony Pictures negotiations with Director Nicolas Winding Refn apparently broken down. The only update since that time was from Deadline.com in August 2014 who reported that Jeremy Lovering had signed on to direct the piece, but no further announcements have been made.

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