Room 237 (2012): Review

Director: Rodney Asher
8.5/10

I went to a midnight screening of Room 237 while at Sundance. Seeing as The Shining is my favorite film of all time, I was ecstatic to find a documentary about it. While it wasn’t exactly what I expected, Room 237 is an amazing look at one of the most cryptic films of our time.

Of all Kubrick films, The Shining is arguably the most widely viewed. It’s a great scary movie, but there are so many contexts lurking beneath that transcend the genre. It’s a bewildering experience viewing the film for the first time, and trying to pick up on all the subliminal clues seemingly placed around every corner. Room 237 does a great job of revealing some of these hidden messages, though it never forces any one speculation on the audience. For anyone who thinks that The Shining is more than just a horror film, this documentary is a must see.

Hearing people’s interpretations of movies is always entertaining. It gets taken to a new level in Room 237. Most people’s thoughts were normal enough – for example, that Jack represents a minotaur in his maze, or that the film is about the Native American genocide. Some of people’s answers to the film’s deepest secrets, though, are absolutely insane, but in the best way possible. One man went so far as to claim that Kubrick made The Shining as a confession to faking the moon landing. Asher compiles all of these theories very well, giving them visual context when possible while always remaining ambivalent. The editing and flow of the film is wonderful and engaging. The music used is moody and fun, though so relaxing that I found myself falling asleep a few times (it was 1 in the morning, after all).

Because of its complexity, this is the kind of movie you can watch again and again, just like the masterpiece it is about. Room 237 is a fun mystery, but it also reminds us of why we love cinema: it, like all art, has endless possibilities. For any movie-lover, I recommend Room 237 very highly. It’s a beautiful love letter to the silver screen.

 

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