Cast: Bill Blakemore, Geoffrey Cocks, Juli Kearns, John Fell Ryan, Jay Weidner, Buffy Visick
Plot: A documentary detailing various theories on Stanley Kubrick's The Shining.
For those who are not fans of The Shining, Room 237 may not appear to be your kind of film, but look past the subject of its analysis and you still have an interesting and subversive documentary. Rodney Ascher’s adoration and enchantment of Kubrick’s classic horror film led him to find out more about the film and through that journey he stumbled upon a realm of exhaustive, subjective theories relating to it. In this new documentary several of these ideas are analysed in great depth and with tremendous vivacity thanks to Ascher’s direction.
Some of the theories seem relatively crack-pot when first spoken about but as the film etches through each hypothesis and every point of reference, they begin to take illustrious shape. Whether or not you agree with beliefs that The Shining pointed to notions such as Kubrick filming the 1969 Moon landing, the genocide of the Native Americans or the machinations of Hitler’s exterminations of the Jews, the theorists always give an interesting lecture on why they believe it to be so.
For film students, critics and fanatics, this is a ground-breaking documentary about the debates and discussions of film. Especially for the film studies faction, Room 237 proves the worth of analysis in a director, star or genre. Not many know of the degrees of detail in which people read into films and Room 237 is an expert example of showing some cinema-goers’ unique perceptions. As dense at it may be at points, the film runs through the bunch of theories, always with more than one astounding examination. Furthermore, Ascher uses snippets from various horror films to envision some of the interviewee’s stories (many clips of people in cinemas corresponding with theorist X talking about their first experience of The Shining, for example), thus alleviating some of the blandness that comes from only hearing the voices of the Shining enthusiasts.
By Piers McCarthy. Also posted on LiveForFilms