Movie Review: Room 237 (2013)

room-237001Seen: On our projector set-up, streamed from Miles’s harddrive.

My boyfriend saw this at Fantastic Fest last year and was pretty enthusiastic about it, dropping in some little conspiracy tidbits when we re-watched The Shining for Halloween. Room 237 is a creatively assembled documentary that interviews several Kubrick conspiracy theorists with their take on The Shining, playing their voices over expertly assembled video footage from a range of films. Anything and everything is up for discussion and obsessive analysis, from the history of American conquest over Native American tribes to a veiled confession of faking the moon landing. Also: minotaurs.

I admit I like conspiracy theories, not that I believe in that kind of stuff but because I think it’s fascinating how some people’s minds can make these unexpected leaps, and pull together disparate pieces of information and fit them together in weird ways. A lot of the ideas put forth in Room 237 are ridiculous or paranoid, but a lot of them are very interesting as possible insights into Kubrick’s way of working and the level of detail that he fit (intentionally or not) into every scene. Some of these people have made a living obsessing over the filmmaker, so it’s not surprising that their passion and obsession runs deep, with some even creating maps and diagrams that attempt to re-create the reality (and illusion) of the Overlook Hotel. I mean the level of dedication is impressive, if nothing else. And I’ll admit by the end I was basically believing everything I was hearing, since most of them make their cases pretty strongly!

My main criticism of the film is that all of the voiceovers and different theories ran together because there wasn’t much to distinguish them from each other- except for the one female voice I couldn’t tell anyone apart. I loved the clever compilation of footage from The Shining and other films to use as visuals, since it offered an alternative to the typical “talking head” documentary style, but some text naming the different figures each time they spoke might have been nice for added clarity. I guess that’s a minimal complaint, though, really. Overall it’s a fascinating and somewhat odd film that has me itching to over-analyze everything I come into contact with. Which as an art historian is totally what I should be doing anyway.


Pair This Movie With: Well OBVIOUSLY afterwards you have to watch The Shining one thousand times HELLOOOOO.

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