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Review: Room 237

Do you like being scared? Watch The Shining*. If watched late at night, in a creeky house with the wind blowing and your imagination engaged, it would be difficult not to become caught up in the film and subsequently have to change your gruts. Do you like being bored? Watch Room 237. This plodding documentary film explores a variety of fan theories about The Shining. Some of the theories are credible, some are dreary, others are entertainly insane. The primary issue with the film isn’t the content, it’s the organisation. The theories are just schluffed onto the screen in an almost random and meandering, ponderous way. You could cut this documentary into approximately thirty minutes, and it’d be a great DVD extra, but instead the film has a run time of 102 mins, but feels much, much longer. The pacing is problematic, to say the least. I went with two friends, one of which wanted to leave at the thirty minute mark, the other who fell asleep. The film failed to maintain interest, even of movie geeks.

So, a quick rundown of the theories, just to save you the time;

1. It’s about the genocide of native Americans.

2. It’s about the holocaust, or genocides in general.

3. There’s loads of numerology.

7. The geography of the hotel is impossible.

5. MINOTAURS

6. Uhhh….

4. Numerology! (42, predominantly)

8. The film can be played backwards and forward, overlayed and you get some wacky coincidences.

9. The Mooooooooooonnnnnnn

The final one I listed there is that Stanley Kubrick used the flick as a way to confess to faking the footage of the moon landing. Yeah I know. The kid has an Apollo 11 jumper on at one point, and, more telling, if you rearrange ‘room no.’ it kinda comes out as ‘moon’. Except, y’know, those pesky extra letters. AND the moon is 237 thousand miles from earth! Except it’s not, it’s 238.8 thousand. Some of the other theories are credible, especially the native American genocide one, which is backed up by lots of imagery, and lines in the text. Some are literally laughable – the ‘Minotaur’ proponent showed the viewer images from the shining, insisting they were Minotaurs and failing to convince the audience.

This documentary needed to be either a serious, academic analysis of the realistic theories of the imagery, or, preferably, an exploration into the crazy people behind the theories. We never see their faces in the documentary, instead the visuals are all from various films, mostly from Kubrick’s body of work. My suspicion is that we wouldn’t want to see their faces or homes, due to the volume of fingernail clipping collections in jars, and ornate dolls made from human hair retrieved from the plug-hole. Avoid this film; if you want to learn about the imagery throughout the shining, there are a multitude available on youtube that go into painstaking detail.

Have a listen to Court and Matt’s detailed discussion on Room 237, about 34min or 3/4 into episode 7 of The Bioscopist Podcast:

*The European cut, which is short – sub-2 hours – and Kubrick’s preferred version.

GRADE: F+

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