Room 237 is an exhaustive glimpse into multiple theories examining the text and subversive sub-text of Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of the Stephen King novel, The Shinning. Running nearly as long as the subject matter, this nearly 2 hour documentary is an undeniably appealing conversation starter for any cinema-head. Using a savvy mix of footage from not only the source film but all of Kubrick’s film works, Room 237 blends VFX shots to manipulate the audience and create an experience similar to viewing a Kubrick movie for the first time, captivating and confounding in equal measures.
The documentary is broken into nine points, by six different interviewees each waxing philosophical on the true meaning of nearly every aspect of Kubrick’s 1980 film. Depending on your own affiliation with the notorious filmmaker or the (in my opinion) disappointing horror flick, this thorough examination is either going to inspire the viewer to re-visit the original film or shake their heads in befuddlement, as when one theorist argues that the film is to be played backwards and forwards simultaneously. That among a few others are some of the more outlandish theories floating around this slick documentary that plays like a well-produced bit of fan fiction filmmaking.
My favorite segment is the discussion that The Shinning is just a thinly veiled metaphor for the faking of the Apollo 11 moon landing. It has long been rumored that Stanley Kubrick replicated the moon landing telecast from a soundstage. Vehemently denied by all involved, one conspiracy theorist provides a compelling argument that the film is littered with hints that Kubrick was attempting to come clean about the whole messy affair but knew the danger of exposing such a secret.
Room 237 won’t hold much interest to those who haven’t seen the subject film, and for those (like myself) on the fence about it, this documentary at least sheds light on possible layers that hide in the dense and nearly un-penetrable movie. Was it Kubrick’s intention to make a statement about genocide? or perhaps NASA? or even Nazi German in 1942? Or is The Shinning just a really dull horror flick? It’s your call, but Room 237 wants you to think about it, exhaustively.
Director: Rodney Ascher
Stars: Bill Blakemore, Geoffrey Cocks, Juli Kearns