If The Shining is “a film made by a bored genius,” Room 237 is a documentary made by bored film theorists with too much time on their hands.
It’s essentially a collaboration of theories and ideas from five Stanley Kubrick critics, who explore the esoteric storylines of Time’s best psychological horror movie – The Shining. Five very different professional points of view draw the audience into a new maze; one with endless detours and dead ends. Many ways in, but no way out.
As a documentary it naturally lacks plot, other than nine separate sections of theory explained in excruciating detail by the nutters who managed to dream them up. Then, the audience is subjected to shoddy editing and a poorly planned voice-over. It’s fair to say that Kubrick would be turning in his grave if he knew what people were saying about his masterpiece.
Or would he? Whilst claiming that Kubrick managed to single-handedly fake the Apollo moon landing footage (which is absurd), the rest of the notions expressed in this documentary bear possibility, even if they are quite farfetched. It’s guaranteed to make you think, if nothing else, and may very well alter your own conclusions.
Take for example the scene where Danny envisions blood pouring from the elevator shaft. Other than classic horror film footage, could this be a metaphor for the millions of Native Americans slaughtered on the land surrounding the Overlook Hotel? Is Kubrick trying to relay messages about the Holocaust in 1942? Perhaps only Kubrick will ever know, but what Room 237 attempts to do is open fans’ eyes to the possible deeper meanings.
The audience were audibly upset and confused by one or two of the ideas voiced inhere, which is usually the kind of reaction expected from a Michael Moore documentary, brilliant though they are. This then poses the question: is Rodney Ascher trying to follow in Moore’s footsteps? Is all this controversy merely an attempt at riling an audience simply for the reaction?
Room 237 made a lasting impression on me, even though it was less than ‘enjoyable.’ However there is a bright side, being that I now have the urge to re-live the Shining experience once again. And what better timing than a week before its official UK premiere in cinemas this Hallowe’en?