“Room 237” Review: Conspiracy Theorists Examine “The Shining”

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“Room 237” Review: Conspiracy Theorists Examine “The Shining”

By Wesley Emblidge

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“I’m not saying we didn’t go to the moon, I’m just saying that what we saw was faked, and that it was faked by Stanley Kubrick.”

At what level of obsession do you become crazy? That’s a question that should probably be posed to the interviewees in “Room 237,” a new documentary examining fan theories about Stanley Kubrick’s horror masterpiece “The Shining.” From viewers who have picked up on little things like recurring images and numbers in the film, to the real obsessives who have played the movie forward and reversed at the same time to uncover hidden images, the subjects of “Room 237” provide, at the very least, a fascinating look at how people can over-analyze a film, and at the most, could convert you into a conspiracy theorist too.

The film hasn’t got much of a structure; it’s split into nine chapters but none of them are that distinguishable from the rest. There isn’t even any real conclusion or point that the movie makes in the end, aside from “look at these ideas! Aren’t they cool? Aren’t these people crazy?” Still, it manages to stay engaging for most of the runtime even though it’s just throwing ideas at you left and right.

What are the theories? Well, they vary, in terms of both subject and believability. There’s one interview with a guy who projected the film forwards, and then set up another projector playing the film backwards over the same screen. He then watched the images overlap and tried to find hidden messages there. Other Kubrick fans theorize that the director faked the holocaust and the moon landing, deliberately makes fun of “The Shining” author Stephen King, and includes people from his own life in the film.

At points, the film really drags, like when one woman starts talking about scenes where a chair in the background disappears, and what kind of stuff that all represents. That all gets tiring quick, but luckily there’s enough interesting theories that make good points to keep you with the film.

I’m not sure that “Room 237” convinced me of many of the claims it made, but at the very least it had me asking a lot of questions about “The Shining,” and painted an interesting portrait of obsessive people to boot. The lack of structure or any real conclusion is bothersome, but for any fan of “The Shining,” “Room 237” is still a must-see.

 

3/5 Stars