The Cecil Hotel has a kinda silly name, but there’s nothing funny about its history. Sixteen people have died there of non-natural causes. Murder victim Elizabeth Short, the “Black Dahlia”, was reportedly seen at the Cecil shortly before her murder. Serial killers Jack Unterweger and Richard Ramirez both lived there. The Cecil Hotel inspired the fifth season of AMERICAN HORROR STORY, subtitled HOTEL. The most infamous case associated with the hotel occurred in 2013 when the naked and decomposing body of a Canadian college student named Elisa Lam was discovered in one of the water tanks on the hotel’s roof; she had disappeared three weeks earlier. Video footage of Tam taken in one of the hotel’s elevators showed her behaving strangely before her disappearance, pressing buttons frantically and apparently hiding in the elevator car. The doors leading to the roof were kept locked. Additionally, a ladder would have been required to get into the water tank, yet no ladder was found on the roof. These mysteries have never been explained.
Eerily, the events of Tam’s death and the discovery of her body mirror the plot of the 2005 film DARK WATER, itself an American remake of a 2002 Japanese movie of the same name. The Japanese movie was based on a short story written in 1996 entitled “Floating Water,” penned by Koji Suzuki, who also wrote the THE RING novel series.