For some, Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” is seen as an awful adaptation of the famous Steven King novel of the same name. They say “it’s not scary” and “it doesn’t follow the source material”. Others, however, would claim that The Shining is a masterpiece of a film that has so much hidden below the surface. The voice-over men and women in Room 237 would fall into the latter category, seeing as they have some interesting interpretations of The Shining and what it’s really about. Shot in an unorthodox way, this documentary feels more like a YouTube video with all its voice-overs and constant footage (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing).
Room 237 follows the viewpoints of five different individuals whom are all brought together due to their love of The Shining. They all differ in views, but at least they can agree on something. The overall consensus from these individuals, is that The Shining is really about genocide and how we tend to neglect terrible events in history. There are an alarming number of references to Nazism and the Genocide of the Native Americans in this film, as pointed out by the individuals. They provide pictures, clips and hard evidence to support their thesis. I have to admit, after seeing what they showed, I can see why one may think that. There are also theories that the film is a play on horror films, a big F-YOU to Stephen King and a story that involves a Minotaur and a Maze. There are a ton of underling mysteries in The Shining and this film tries to bring those mysteries to light.
On the less believable side, one individual is adamant in his belief that Stanley Kubrick helped NASA fake the Moon landing. Yeah… He claims that the filming styles of Kubrick’s work and those of the NASA footage are scarily similar. He mentions ties to one of Kubrick’s other masterpieces, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and how that film was used as a precursor to filming the Moon landing. There’s also thought that every-time that Kubrick deviates from King’s novel, he inserted random dialog that tells the story of Kubrick’s wife discovering what he’d done and how he had to keep her quiet. It’s enough to keep you interested and curious, but it doesn’t seem as likely. However, the “evidence” is there and it will get you thinking.
For me, Room 237 was really hit-or-miss. While I found some of the theories to be enlightening and possible, others, I found improbable and rather dull. This lineup of probable and improbable begged the question “why am I watching this”? My first answer was “I love The Shining and I’m curious about this film”. I went into it with an open mind and while I found some enjoyment, I also found some disappointment. I did like that we never saw the “interviewees”, but I disliked the fact that there weren’t more than five of them. In a documentary about a film that many people regard as a masterpiece, I felt like more opinions and collaborative and contrasting ones would have made this film more interesting. At it’s core, this is a film about five people telling you their personal theories on The Shining and backing those theories up with potential evidence from the film.
Another thing that I wondered as I watched this film was “why isn’t this a YouTube video or on a website”? I mean, you can type in “The Shining Conspiracy Theories” and get a lot more information and theories than you do in this film. I agreed with the ties to genocide and the negligence that follows it, but some of the other theories were way too far-fetched for me to believe. This film really only focuses on a small group of theories and left me with so many unanswered questions. What’s up with the creepy dog mask and the man? Can someone explain the final shot of the film in a clear and understandable way? I feel like those a just a couple of important questions that I never got the answer to.
It’s enjoyable to listen to some of the theories and at certain times, I had quite a bit of fun with this film. I learned something new and I actually chose to believe in it. Other times, I was somewhat bored and didn’t understand why so much time was being devoted to one theory. I get that this is a film for the die-hard fans of The Shining and I’m a huge fan of that film! Unfortunately, I was really let down by this film. In an 90 minutes, I could have gone online and looked The Shining theories and questions about The Shining and I would have gotten more answers with “facts” to back them. Or, we could all read the book… In hindsight, I feel like this film would have fared better if it was up on YouTube. While it’s a fun effort from the individual theorists (who are really what the film is about), Room 237 doesn’t keep your interest at all times and doesn’t really answer the important questions you have about The Shining.
Room 237 Trailer